LIBERAL Democrat leader Menzies Campbell has placed A1 improvements at the heart of his party’s North-East policy.
Sir Menzies saw for himself the rush hour gridlock along the Western Bypass during a visit to the region yesterday.
The party has demanded the Government listens to the growing calls for both bypass improvements and dualling of the A1 north of Newcastle.
Mr Campbell said: “Everyone knows there has to be an upgrading of the A1. I’ve driven along the A1 enough times, you don’t have to persuade me. I’ve seen the signs by the road telling you of 250 traffic accidents and there is an obvious argument in favour of improving the road.
“And it’s not just accidents, it’s businesses and convenience and of course if you have cars nose-to-tail they will pollute a lot more.
“It has been a long-term Liberal Democrat policy in the North-East that the A1 needs to be dualled.
“That’s my view, the party’s view and more significantly it is the view of elected Liberal Democrats in the area.”
Mr Campbell admitted the Lib Dems are not in a position to solve the region’s traffic problems, but said the solutions should be obvious. He added: “The Western bypass needs another lane. It’s that simple and that is the projected solution.
“Infrastructure of that kind is absolutely fundamental to enterprise. The case for funding this is a very strong one indeed.
“A vote for the Lib Dems would be a vote for assurance that we will continue to press for improvements on the A1.”
The Lib Dem leader was in Newcastle to see the site where up to 5,000 new homes could be built in a bid to solve the growing problem of affordable housing.
Mr Campbell said: “What is proposed here is a remarkably far reaching initiative and I can see it being used as an example nationwide.
“The impression you get here, after talking to the officers, is a real sense of can do.
“This is exactly the kind of project that local authorities should be given power to identify and carry out.”
He was shown around the site by Newcastle City Council leader John Shipley, who said: “We’re backing The Journal’s Go for Jobs campaign but with a bit extra, in terms of getting the whole region moving in transport terms. Berwick MP Alan Beith said the visit showed how seriously the party takes the improvements.
He said: “This is a really welcome boost to the A1 campaign.
“And as an East of Scotland MP I think he also recognises the importance of links from Scotland to Northumberland and the North-East.
“And we need to improve this road in the same way the Scots have improved it on their side.”