Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has insisted the North East was given a “fair share of the cake” when it came to infrastructure investment.
The Conservative Minister was in the region on the campaign trail to support the party’s candidate for Berwick, Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
He said a bid to dual the A1 in its entirety would be considered under a Conservative Government. However, he said, this would only take place once the road was dualled to Ellingham – a project set to get under way after Coalition investment of £290m was announced – and a study of traffic volume justified a further investment to dual the remaining distance to Scotland.
No other party has committed to dualling the A1 road further north, either.
“We are making a start in the right direction and that’s the right thing to do – we need to get on with what we said we will do,” said the senior Tory.
“What is important is that we have a road investment strategy. We got it for the railways and now we have it for the roads – and it’s the first time that has happened.
“There is a lot of work going on at the moment on the A1, just look around Newcastle and Lobley Hill – that’s a huge scheme, our £160m scheme.
“What I can say here in the North East is that for the first time we are seeing real infrastructure investments right across the region. In the next few years you are going to have brand new trains running and road investment.
“We need to see what the traffic was like once we have dualled what is an important part. We will then see if there is a case for further dualling. (But) I think the case will become compelling.”
The Transport Secretary also hit back at claims infrastructure spending in the North East was dwarfed by that in London and the South East.
“I don’t think the North East has a victim mentality,” he said. “The North East is a fantastic place and it has a lot going for it. We are seeing industry coming here, development at the ports and for the roads. Perhaps what the North East will often say is that you want a fair share of the cake. I get that – and I think you are getting a fair share of the cake now, with the investment that we are seeing. “