CONTROVERSIAL works to change a Hampshire motorway into a smart motorway have been delayed by up to six months.

Work on the M27 between junctions 4 and 11 has been pushed back due to calls made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

The smart motorway scheme was due to be finished by 'Mid-March 2021', but the date has now been changed to 'July - September 2021' according to the Highways England website.

The delay has been slammed by a Hampshire MP, who has branded the scheme a “disaster”.

The motorway was due to open fully last month according to signs along the road.

But the signs have now been removed by Highways England.

Highways England confirmed that there is a delay in opening the M27 between junctions four and 11 “at the request of Grant Shapps to implement features like stopped vehicle detection technology in this part of the motorway and close spacing of emergency areas”.

They added that Mr Shapps “ask us not to open any upgrades of this type until all these features were fitted”.

Eastleigh Borough Council leader Keith House said: “This project has been a disaster from start to finish.

“It was meant to include quieter road surfacing between Eastleigh and Hedge End as part of the works.

“Now we are told this will create another set of major roadworks from Summer 2022 to late in 2023 to get this done.

“It’s a shambles. Drivers have to put up with more delays and more inconvenience for business.”

A Highways England spokesperson said: “We are committed to bringing drivers the upgraded section of the M27 as soon as possible.

“It’s a massive job and is making good progress, and we will give drivers advance notice before it opens.”

The scheme aims to improve the motorway as well as including various methods to manage the flow of traffic, such as converting the hard shoulder into a live running lane.