The government has today given the go-ahead for £250 million of funding to dual the A1 from Morpeth to Ellingham, but the 25-mile stretch to the Scottish border is being missed out.
The 13-mile stretch linking the Morpeth and Alnwick bypasses and north of Alnwick to North Charlton will be upgraded to create a continuous dual carriageway from Newcastle to Ellingham. There will also be a number of enhancements to the A1 north of Ellingham, including passing lanes and better crossing facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.
The government announcement today includes:
* Dualling the eight miles of single carriageway between Morpeth and Felton;
* Dualling the five miles of single carriageway between Alnwick and Ellingham;
* Complementary measures on the remaining stretch of single carriageway to the north of Ellingham. This is likely to include localised widening to accommodate climbing lanes and individual junction improvements, such as right turn lanes.
As government coalition partners, both the Conservatives and Lib Dems are attempting to take the credit as the political battle intensifies ahead of the 2015 general election. But in Berwick, there is widespread disappointment that the north of the country has missed out.
Although the A1 is the major road linking Newcastle to Edinburgh, it has suffered from under-investment for a number of years, according to Conservative Party officials.
They say that massive delays and congestion result from only small sections of the road being dualled – this has particularly affected towns like Berwick and Alnwick, whose local economies have suffered from poor infrastructure.
Chancellor George Osborne said: “Today’s announcement that we are dualling the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham is great news for Berwick [constituency] and a real victory for the brilliant Conservative candidate for Berwick, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, without whom this would not have happened. She set up the Dual the A1 campaign, brought a petition to Downing Street and made sure that everyone from the Prime Minister down was aware of the funding requirements for this road.
“Anne-Marie took me to see the road earlier this year and to hear from local businesses affected by delays on the A1.
“For years this road has suffered from neglect, but with a strong Conservative voice for Berwick and a Conservative Long Term Economic Plan that is turning around the economy, we are now able to commit to funding the A1 with the jobs and opportunities that will bring.”
The news was expected to be announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on Wednesday, but the announcement has come two days ahead of his key financial speech.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative candidate for the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency, said: “This is really, really exciting news for the whole region and for each family which has suffered a loss on the road.
“The Dual the A1 campaign has worked tirelessly for the last seven years, pulling together a range of voices, including individuals, businesses, emergency services and logistic firms from across the country, and now we have managed to cross the starting line.
“We will continue to maintain the pressure to see if the A1 (north of Ellingham) can be dualled so that the road from London to Edinburgh is a 21st-century road all of the way up.”
However, the Liberal Democrats have a different take on who is responsible for the A1 dualling breakthrough.
Sir Alan Beith, MP for the constituency, said: “Having campaigned for improvements to the A1 north of Morpeth for many years, I am delighted that the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has made sure there is funding for these significant improvements – something the Conservatives promised in 1992 ahead of a General Election, but then failed to carry out.
“Julie Pörksen (Lib Dem prospective Parliamentary candidate) and I travelled to London last week for an urgent meeting with the Chief Secretary to remind him of the importance of these improvements to the local area, the region and the economy as a whole and we are very pleased indeed that he has listened to our case and put this work into the Infrastructure Programme.”
Julie Pörksen added: “It’s only been possible to get this investment in the A1 because we have Liberal Democrats making decisions as part of a Coalition Government.
“I am very pleased that ministers have made this commitment but I would be worried that if we have a Conservative Government in the future the plans would be scrapped.”
Mr Alexander said that the announcement was a landmark day in the history of the North East. He added: “Finally, the calls from Sir Alan Beith MP and Julie Pörksen have been answered.
“As chairman of the Cabinet Committee on infrastructure, I have personally insisted that today’s plans for this vital artery are truly ambitious. They will result in a major improvement to the quality of life of the travelling public and a substantial boost to your region’s economy.”
This investment is part of a £15billion plan to increase the capacity and improve the condition of roads across the country. The government is investing in 100 new road schemes, and adding over 1,300 extra lane miles. Other projects include:
o A £2billion commitment to dual the entire A303 and A358 to the south west, including a tunnel at Stonehenge.
o £300million to upgrade the east-west connection to Norfolk, by dualling single-carriage way sections of the A47, which are creating congestion and safety concerns on the road.