PRESSURE is mounting on civil servants to begin putting together the business case for dualling the A1.
Treasury minister Danny Alexander has raised the unfunded route with the Department for Transport following a meeting with Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith.
Concerns were raised earlier this month when the A1 north of Newcastle missed out on funding to dual the road despite more than £300m being made available by the Chancellor for the A1 in Yorkshire and Tyneside. When George Osborne announced funding in his Autumn Statement, campaigners said the A1 in Northumberland had missed out because civil servants had not prepared a business case for the work needed, meaning there was nothing for the Chancellor to approve.
The case for the A1’s long-sought for upgrade has stalled in the last year following earlier movement when the Conservatives fulfilled an election promise to make the road one of national strategic importance.
Now Liberal Democrat MP Mr Alexander has said the Department for Transport will have to look again at the road.
The Chief Secretary to the Treasury said: “I have been made aware of the need to improve that road north of Newcastle, not least by Sir Alan Beith, and have asked the Secretary of State for Transport to work up plans for potential improvements north of Newcastle.”
Sir Alan later told The Journal: “I am telling Ministers about the need to dual the A1 north of Newcastle at every opportunity. There are two stretches – the Mousen Bends near Belford and the Morpeth to Felton section – where considerable work has already been carried out and it would not take very much effort to bring the two schemes up to shovel-readiness. I will be speaking to the Transport Secretary again about the situation, and will not cease to lobby for investment in our county’s main road.”
He was speaking as Gateshead MP Ian Mearns raised transport issues facing the North East in the Commons.
He said: “If we want to transport goods from Tyneside through Northumberland and into Scotland, there is a dual carriageway, intermittently, as far as Alnwick, and then the road peters out.
“In some places south of Alnwick there is a single lane in each direction. We are talking about a major network, the A1 that links Edinburgh to London, and yet we do not have the advantage of a real motorway network in the North East that would benefit our economy.”