MP calls for funding to dual A69 as region looks to Chancellor's Autumn Statement

Hexham MP Guy Opperman met George Osborne to push the case for improving the road at a meeting in Westminster

Closure warning on the A69 just west of Hexham
Closure warning on the A69 just west of Hexham

Calls for funding to dual the A69 between Newcastle and Carlisle have been delivered straight to the Chancellor.

Hexham MP Guy Opperman met George Osborne to push the case for improving the road at a meeting in Westminster, as the Chancellor was preparing for the Autumn Statement on December 3.

The meeting was one of a series of lobbying exercises in the run up to the statement.

Mr Osborne is expected to confirm that the long campaign to dual the A1 north of Newcastle has achieved at least a partial victory, with funding likely to be confirmed to dual part of the route.

But he has also hinted that other transport schemes across the North of England could receive funding, either immediately or in the longer term.

Conservative MP Mr Opperman wants the Chancellor to back plans to improve the A69, which is largely single carriageway west of Hexham, arguing that it would improve road safety.

Hexham MP Guy Opperman
Hexham MP Guy Opperman
 

Official figures show that in 2011 there were 82 collisions on the road, with 130 people injured, and four people died as a result of crashes that year alone.

The MP said: “Here in the North, and especially the North East, we have suffered from decades, if not generations, of underinvestment in our transport infrastructure.”

But he said the situation was improving with the creation of a combined authority of the North East and the work of the Local Enterprise Partnership.

He added: “The A69 is the chief arterial route that connects east and west across the rural north. It is dualled between Newcastle and Hexham, but thereafter it is a notorious stretch of single-track road, with occasional dual passing points.

“It has seen too many accidents, and its limitations are holding back the growth of the economy in west Northumberland and Cumbria.”

Carlisle MP John Stevenson was also present at the meeting to back the case for improving the A69.

Martin Rickett/PA Wire Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne
 

Mr Opperman is also pushing for the electrification of the Tyne Valley line between Newcastle and Carlisle, which is used by Northern Rail and First ScotRail.

Trains one the line are currently diesel-powered, but the MP argues that electrifying the route would mean faster, greener, quieter and more reliable trains.

The MP said: “My main concern is to get these into the long term economic plan. I do not expect immediate announcements and it is a long timetable for such projects but without getting into the plan it will simply never happen.” He is also calling on the Chancellor to press ahead with the A1 scheme. The campaign to win funding for the A1 continues today when Sir Alan Beith, Lib Dem MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, and Julie Pörksen, the Lib Dem candidate due to stand in the seat at the next election, meet Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, at Westminster to discuss the road.

In an interview with The Journal earlier this month, Mr Alexander suggested the Government was ready to give the green-light to the long-awaited scheme, but that work would be carried out in phases.

Business leaders across the North East have also joined forces with colleagues from across the North to urge the Chancellor to invest in the North of England.

Chief Executives of the North East Chamber of Commerce, Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce wrote to Mr Osborne urging him to back proposals published in July by five major cities including Newcastle.

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