Campaigners set one month deadline for A1 dualling evidence

Businesses urged to back feasability study

The single carriageway on the A1 road near Felton in Northumberland
The single carriageway on the A1 road near Felton in Northumberland

The case for dualling the A1 will need to be made over the next month, campaigners say.

Government transport officials met with campaigners this week to go over the evidence needed to convince minsters to spend millions of pounds upgrading the route through Northumberland.

The long campaign to dual the A1 north of Newcastle won an important breakthrough in June when Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, announced a feasibility study into proposals to transform the road to Scotland into a dual carriageway.

If approved, the measure would be part of a £100bn infrastructure spending programme.

Now, motorists, politicians and businesses have been told they have one month to finalise their case.

Commenting after the meeting, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Berwick, Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “For many years the Dual the A1 campaign has been gathering evidence from residents and businesses who understand the need for a dualled A1 between Newcastle and Edinburgh and the value that it would bring.

“There is now a golden opportunity to make the strongest possible case on economic grounds for A1 dualling and we need as much new evidence as possible.

“The feasibility study will consider the costs of such a large project and will examine the economic benefits that dualling would bring.

“I will be contacting as many businesses and residents as possible and I encourage everyone who cares about this issue to add their evidence to our campaign at www.dualthea1.com.

“We must use this opportunity to get a better deal on the A1 or we risk further delays to this vital project.”

As part of her campaign, Mrs Trevelyan recently met councillors and officials at East Lothian Council who are campaigning north of the border. She added: “Dualling the A1 is an issue that crosses the border and it is as much about the economic benefits to England, and the North East in particular, as is it to Scotland.”

The prospect of dualling the A1 has slowly increased since the Conservatives made it an election issue in 2010.

In the run-up the General Election the Tories promised to add the road to a list of national strategic infrastructure, meaning it is at least in the running for funding.

The coalition Government’s decision to add it to the list reversed a previous funding problem which saw the A1 denied cash by a locally-based decision making panel. For years local transport chiefs had had to turn down upgrade cash amid concerns the road would take up all available funds.

While the road is now on a long term list of projects which are competing for cash, there is still uncertainty as to when – or if – work will start.

Ministers have come in for criticism over their infrastructure plans, with no North East major schemes yet started despite three years of Coalition Government.

Yesterday Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods raised the issue in the House of Commons.

The Labour MP said: “Last month, after detailed analysis, the Financial Times reported that it found progress in infrastructure schemes to be slow, if not minimal, including on many of the 40 priority projects launched to great fanfare by the Government. What will the minister do to rectify the situation and get infrastructure projects delivered?”

Mr Alexander, said: “Thirty-six transport projects worth more than £1.7bn have been delivered.”

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