The A1 is 'on track' to be dualled despite a question mark raised over the £293million project in March.
A Highways England review had identified 16 road projects which presented a risk to value for money, some of which could be cancelled or delayed, according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report released on March 22.
The projects under review, from a total of 112, were not identified, despite initial indications to the Gazette that the A1 was not affected, leading to speculation that the Northumberland project, to dual the A1 to Ellingham and improve the junctions from there to Berwick, might be included.
At the time, the reports were rejected by Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan as ‘dangerous scaremongering’.
She met Transport Secretary Chris Grayling yesterday to discuss the issue and he quashed the rumours, saying the project remained on track.
Mrs Trevelyan said: “It was great to be able to talk through the plans with the Transport Secretary and receive his confirmation that the plans continue apace – I know there had been concerns that the NAO report suggesting ways in which savings could be made in the future, might mean a threat to our A1 plans – I welcome Chris Grayling’s confirmation that is not the case. I was especially pleased to have his support for my campaign to dual the A1 up to the Scottish border once the present scheme has been completed.”
The MP – who sits on the House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee, which commissioned the NAO report in to future road investment – had been 'bemused by suggestions that seeking value for taxpayers’ money in future projects would constitute a threat to the A1 project which is well under way'.
She said: "The Transport Secretary has confirmed once and for all, that the project continues to schedule.
Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Chris Grayling said: “I was pleased to be able to confirm to Anne-Marie that the work on dualling the A1 in Northumberland remains on track and work continues apace as the Highways England team builds up to the route announcement in the coming months. It is disappointing that there has been a need for me to clarify this at all – it seems some local political groups seem intent on scaremongering and spreading lies. I am happy to confirm that any fears are unfounded and that I support Anne-Marie’s vision for dualling the A1 up to the Scottish border.”
Highways England also confirmed to the MP, and many of those who attended the recent consultation events, that their timetable remains on course. The route announcement will be made in the coming months, for the dualling work between Morpeth and Ellingham. Major improvement works to the stretch north of Ellingham will commence in 2018.