THE city's MP is 'furious' with Highways England for running behind schedule on works to transform a motorway junction in the city.

The M5 junction 6 improvement works were originally supposed to finish last winter, however the end date was pushed back to the spring - and it has now been extended to the autumn.

Two county councillors said the project is running over budget by millions of pounds, although Highways England refused to confirm or deny this.

The project, which involves widening the junction's roundabout, slip roads and approaches, started in April last year and is intended to reduce congestion.

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, said: "I'm furious.

"I think it is totally unacceptable that this has been delayed by up to six months.

"Highways England gave me assurances that they recognised how important it was to get the junction 6 works done quickly.

"This is the third significant project on our stretch of motorway. All three have overrun. It's not just a one-off issue. I wouldn't be as angry about it if it was."

Highways England told councillors that the project would cost around £5million, at an economy and environment overview and scrutiny panel meeting in March last year, according to county councillor Tony Miller.

The councillor said he had been told the works were around £20million over budget, although he did not know if this was the estimated final cost or the current amount that the project was running over by.

He added: "I think at the end of the project Highways England should say what it has cost and what taxpayers' money has been spent on. I think they should say this project has overrun and what the original price was. There's no reason to keep that under wraps."

The councillor added that contractors have had to dig deeper than expected to build a retaining wall at the junction, due to the poor ground conditions.

County councillor Chris Bloore claims he was told the project was 'significantly over budget' to the tune of £10million.

He said he was told about this around six months ago although, just like Mr Miller, he is unsure whether this was the estimated final cost of the project or how much the project was running over budget at the time.

He added: "Highways England is an unaccountable quango. From my experience of trying to get assurances over work at junction 4, I've always found it is like getting blood out of a stone.

"Not even the MP can get information out of them."

Interserve, the contractors for the junction 6 project, fell into administration last month although the company says this is no longer the case.

In response to a direct request for how much Highways England expected the project to cost, a spokesman said: “Final costs are yet to be confirmed as work is still ongoing. We’re committed to completing these essential improvements as quickly and as safely as possible."

Jessica Kenny, who manages the junction 6 project for Highways England, said: “This is a vital upgrade to a busy junction of the M5 in Worcestershire and we are committed to completing work as quickly and as safely as possible.

"We have now completed work in some areas and removed some of the speed restrictions on the M5 to minimise potential delays to journeys. "There is still work to do in some areas and we will be removing the remainder of the roadworks in phases over the coming months.

"We are doing all we can to reduce disruption to motorists, business and residents.

"Once completed, the scheme will reduce congestion and support future economic growth in the greater Worcester area. We’d like to thank motorists for their patience while this essential work continues.”

The Highways England website added: "Unfortunately, we encountered unforeseen challenges due to poor ground conditions and additional groundwater, which has delayed our progress. We still have work to do in other areas and we will be removing the remainder of the roadworks in phases over the next few months."