Death crash sparks new appeal to dual the A1

A HEARTBROKEN widow has given her support to renewed calls for dualling the A1 in Northumberland after another death crash.

Helen Thompson, from Embleton, whose husband Ian died in a head-on smash in February 2009, wants something to be done as soon as possible to dual the A1 north of Morpeth, after a 33-year-old man was killed on Sunday.

Robert Derek Harmison, from the Whitley Bay area, died in hospital after his car collided with a lorry in the single-carriageway section at Hebron.

The road was closed for four-and-a-half hours after the crash.

Mrs Thompson’s pleas have been backed by councillors and A1 activists desperate for action to be taken on the ‘notorious’ road.

Her husband was killed on the single carriageway stretch near Felton.

She said: “I feel like it is never going to be done. It has to be dualled. My life has been shattered since my husband was killed on that road.

“It just wrecks your life. But there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do.

“They need to find the money from somewhere and just do it.

“It should be the top priority.”

Northumberland county councillor Glen Sanderson has been championing the case for dualling the A1 for around 20 years.

He said: “What the awful accident on Sunday shows is that there should be no let-up in our determination to keep fighting for this.

“I think we always need to remember that somebody’s life is priceless and the sadness, grief and loss that follows a fatality is something that has got to be at the top of our priorities when we urge for this road to be dualled.

“The business case has been put and the economic development case has been highlighted for a number of years.

“Dualling will bring increased business opportunities but, at the end of the day, we need to reinforce the message about safety issues.

“I know money is very tight but in the 20-odd years I have been involved in getting this dualled, it has always been that the amount of traffic does not justify the public expenditure and the level of accidents is not considered to be serious enough.

“But I will not give up on this campaign.”

Coun Sanderson is calling for Roads Minister Mike Penning to come to Northumberland and see the road for himself.

“I want him to see just how extraordinary it is to be on dual carriageway and motorway all the way from London to Northgate with barely a sign to tell you that you are entering a potentially dangerous road,” he said.

He also wants short-term measures, such as flashing signs, to be put in place to try to alleviate some of the problems.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative parliamentary spokeswoman said she would back Coun Sanderson’s proposals.

“I will be calling for the Roads Minister to listen for himself to the safety concerns of not only local residents but of the police and emergency services who have to deal with these gruelling, avoidable tragedies,” she said.

“I will also ask him to look urgently at the issue of safety signs at Hebron and Mousen Bends near Belford, which are the most dangerous stretches of the road.”

She added that new data anaylsis is to be done to add to the case for dualling.

Sir Alan Beith, Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, welcomed the idea of inviting Mr Penning to see the dangers for himself.

He added: “This latest tragedy happened on part of the section proposed for dualling some time ago and for which plans had already been drawn up.

“Some of the most dangerous points on the A1 are where people are turning onto or off the road among fast-moving traffic.

“The Morpeth to Felton stretch should be a priority for dualling.”

The A1 in Northumberland was reclassified as a national route of strategic importance in August 2010.

Now the economic case is being made for it.

Mrs Trevelyan has launched a petition on campaigning website www.dualthea1.com for people to sign.