Business group calls for dualling of the A1

A stretch of the single-carriageway in Northumberland.
A stretch of the single-carriageway in Northumberland.

A fresh call for the dualling of the A1 north of Newcastle has been made by small businesses.

Representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have published a new report, An Entrepreneurial North, which calls for effective integration of public bodies, greater infrastructure investment and the creation of a Council of the North.

Ted Salmon, FSB North East regional chairman, said: “Three years on from the first mention of the Northern Powerhouse and it’s still hard to find concrete manifestations of it.

“The success of the Northern Powerhouse starts with having the right infrastructure in place. We need greater focus on the local road routes and rail lines that matter to small businesses.

“We also need cast-iron guarantees about EU funding post-Brexit.”

The dualling of the A1 north of Newcastle has been flagged up as one of these important infrastructure project, although plans to widen the A1 between Morpeth and Felton and a stretch between Alnwick and Ellingham have already been announced.

The new report also recommends the creation of a Council of the North with responsibility for overseeing integration of regional activity and scrutiny of metro mayors. The installation of a People of the North body is suggested as a means to tackling skills shortages in the region.

Another FSB survey in the north of England shows that, when asked which improvements associated with the Northern Powerhouse would significantly benefit their firms, small business owners said better broadband (56 per cent), better small business support (52 per cent), lower business rates (51 per cent), improved road infrastructure (51 per cent) and enhanced mobile coverage (49 per cent).