Prime Minister to put A1 upgrade at heart of £15bn 'roads revolution'

David Cameron to make long-awaited announcement on A1 but campaigners who want entire road dualled say 'the devil is in the detail'

Views of the A1 at the Swarland to Felton Bridge
Views of the A1 at the Swarland to Felton Bridge

The Prime Minister will today place upgrading the A1 north of Newcastle at the heart of a £15bn “roads revolution” for the country.

David Cameron is expected to finally make the long-awaited announcement on the main road through the North East to Scotland today at a conference in London.

He will reveal the Autumn Statement will include “improvements” that ensure “world class infrastructure” for the North East, but campaigners - who have repeatedly called for the route to be dualled in its entirety - fear the Coalition may still short-change the region by offering piecemeal upgrades.

Mr Cameron will say: “At its heart [this] is the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching road improvement programme in four decades: over 100 improvements to our major roads.

“Hundreds of extra lane miles on our motorways and trunk roads. The green light given to major projects that have been stalled for years. Action to improve some of the most important arteries in our country – like the A303 and the A1 – which for too long have held parts of our country back. And all underpinned by over £15bn worth of investment.

“This will be nothing less than a roads revolution – one which will lead to quicker journey times, more jobs, and businesses boosted right across the country.”

Chris Radburn/PA Wire Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron
 

A commitment on the A1 - which is today welcomed by the North East Chamber of Commerce - comes after research by the think tank the IPPR showed infrastructure spending in the region is dwarfed by that of the capital’s.

The Government spends £5,426 per person on infrastructure in London while in the North East that figure is just £223.

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North and Labour’s Treasury spokeswoman, said: “We all know that improvements to our transport infrastructure in the North East - including many key roads - are desperately needed.

“But, as ever, the devil is in the detail and we need to hear more about exactly what these ‘improvements’ will involve, when the work will actually start and how it’s going to be funded.

“This Government’s record of delivery on infrastructure investment is pretty poor, and people in the North East will want a firm plan of action from Cameron and Osborne, rather than any more warm words and distant promises.”

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North
Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North
 

NECC Policy and Research Manager, Mark Stephenson, said the work will safeguard jobs and boost future investment.

He said: “To secure the dualling of this important arterial route through Northumberland after so many years of lobbying by businesses and communities along the A1 is fantastic.

“It is a decision that makes sense and could pay dividends in our region and north of the Border. The North East is the closest English region to Scotland’s economic heartbeat and better links with Edinburgh and its industrial hub can only be of benefit.

“It is also vital that we improve access to Newcastle Airport, which not only brings in over £600m for North East economy, it also supports 8,000 jobs across the region.

“Upgrading this vital artery route will also help us maximise the important roles the Ports of Blyth and Tyne play in our economy, with a dual carriageway massively helping the movement of freight.

“It is also worth remembering that Northumberland is an important part of our £3.5bn tourism offer. Easing movement to and through the county can only help it deliver more to our visitor economy.”

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