No decision on A1 dualling North of Newcastle until 2014

A range of measures to boost the automotive sector have been announced by the Treasury - but a decision on the A1 north of Newcastle will have to wait

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

No decision on long-awaited plans to dual the A1 north of Newcastle will be made for 12 months, ministers have admitted.

A feasibility study looking at proposals to transform the road to Scotland into a dual carriageway was announced by the Treasury in June.

But the Treasury has revealed that it will only publish its findings alongside the Autumn Statement in 2014, this time next year.

The announcement came in the Government’s Infrastructure Plan, which gave the green light to a range of new capital projects in the south east including £50m for redevelopment of the railway station at Gatwick Airport.

However, there was potential good news for the automotive industry in the North East with the announcement that the Government would spend £5m to get public services ready for a switch to using electric vehicles.

The Nissan Leaf, the world’s first mass market electric vehicle, is manufactured in Sunderland.

According to the Treasury, “clear leadership by the public sector” is designed to encourage “future widespread acceptance” of electric vehicles. Nissan is also a world-leader in driverless cars, and ministers announced plans to change the law to allow such vehicles on Britain’s roads. A town or city will be picked as a “testing ground” for the cars, and will receive £10m to adapt roads and roadsigns.

The infrastructure plan also highlighted a number of existing schemes in the North East, including the Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor, which includes a new bridge spanning the River Wear in Sunderland, as well as the £350m upgrade of the A1 between Leeming and Barton, North Yorkshire, where the existing dual carriageway will be replaced by a new three-lane motorway.

It was published in advance of today’s Autumn Statement, when Chancellor George Osborne will set out the state of the economy and announce new measures to cut the cost of living, possibly including a continuation of the fuel duty freeze.

Key announcements will include funding of £450m next year and £635m in 2015-16 to make free school meals available for all children in reception, year one and year two in state-funded schools.

Another £150m of capital will be available to ensure that schools can build new kitchens or increase dining capacity where necessary.

The announcement was welcomed by Lib Dem Sir Alan Beith, MP for Berwick in Northumberland.

He said: “This is good news from a health point of view because it increases the likelihood children will get used to eating a balanced diet.”

Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell urged the Chancellor to ensure economic recovery benefited households in the North East.

Mr Osborne will today announce the end of the car tax disc – made redundant by modern computer technology. In an announcement likely to be controversial, people in their mid-40s will have to wait until the age of 68 to receive their state pension, as changes planned for 2046 are bought forward to the mid 2030s.

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