THE county cabinet member for highways has defended the amount of people working on the Sidbury Junction improvements after criticism about many of them ‘doing nothing’.

Efforts to replace the traffic light system, extend approach lanes and install a new signal-controlled pedestrian crossing on A44 London Road began in the middle of June and are due to finish next month.

However, the amount of workers, often dozens at a time, has been questioned.

Writing on Facebook, city councillor Louise Griffiths said: “Definitely doesn’t look good for visitors and residents to sit in traffic for 40 minutes...only to be greeted by 30-odd construction workers hanging about smoking.”

At peak times motorists have often found themselves in gridlock back beyond the cathedral, due to lane closures through what is a major artery of the city, thanks to the works.

Cllr Griffiths said she had already written to the county council’s highways department and would “get some answers”.

Speaking to the Worcester News, Councillor Alan Amos, cabinet member for highways, said many workers are needed “in the interest of safety” and because different sections of the project are “being worked upon simultaneously”.

“When multi-stage works are undertaken at the same there can be the perception that workers are standing around,” he said.

“There are many reasons for this, for example waiting for materials to be delivered, waiting for traffic management arrangements to be changed, or indeed taking a required break.”

Cllr Amos went on to say health and safety means a signaller/banksman, whose job it is to be another pair of eyes for the machine operators, also needs to be on site.

While there are then multiple “pedestrian chaperones”, who “guide the public safely through the pedestrian routes within the site”.

He added: “To cause minimal disruption, we are looking to deliver most of the scheme during the summer holidays, because of this many different sections of the project are being worked upon simultaneously – which in turn requires more workers on site.”

The pair of old traffic signals have been in place for 50 years and sit on the junction with City Walls Road meets Sidbury, and where the bottom of Bath Road and Commandery Road meets Sidbury.