The Transport Secretary followed in the footsteps of his party leader this afternoon as the Government continues to push its commitment to upgrading the A1 in Northumberland.
On Monday, it was announced that £290million had been allocated as part of the Government’s Road Investment Strategy to dual the A1 between Morpeth and Felton, and from Alnwick to the North Charlton bypass, with further improvements such as overtaking lanes north of Ellingham.
Speaking to the Gazette earlier today, Conservative MP Patrick McLoughlin said: “This is part of a Roads Investment Strategy and it’s based upon the same thing we do for Network Rail. We guarantee them their five-year budget and that’s what we’re doing as far as the Highways Agency is concerned so they can start work on these proposals.
“The process has to be gone through, there has to be planning permission, there may well be an inquiry. Those are the usual planning phases for roads like this, but I very much hope we see work on this part of the road start in the not-too-distant future, in the next few years.”
Asked about the lack of dualling north of Ellingham, where work will take place to improve junctions and install overtaking lanes, he said: “If we get better connectivity up to Ellingham then the case can be made in due course to take it further. At the moment, that case wasn’t as strong.
“We have got a limited budget – it’s a big budget, it’s £15billion and £2.5billion of it is coming up into this region, which I think is a very important chunk of that total – but we have got to look at the rest of the country too.
“Obviously, we will want to look at how, once we have done the improvements we have talked about now to the A1, whether you can actually take it further. That bit of road is not used as much as where we are talking about at the moment.”
For Mr McLoughlin’s views on how the proposed Northern powerhouse will benefit rural north Northumberland and the next steps for the A1 campaign, watch the video above.