New group aims to tackle A697 safety concerns

Councillor Glen Sanderson on the A697
Councillor Glen Sanderson on the A697

A new working group has been set up to look at improving the safety record of the A697, which has been branded one of the most dangerous A-class roads in the country.

Discussions about the road were held at Northumberland County Council’s north area committee meeting on Monday night.

It was agreed to form a liaison group which would be made up of county councillors whose ward has the A697 running through it.

Coun Glen Sanderson said: “Problems exist all of the way along the A697. Not only is it a bad road for accidents, but there are issues of speeding through rural villages.”

Coun Trevor Thorne echoed Coun Sanderson’s comments and added: “I am in favour of a liaison group – anything we can do to improve safety.”

County council officer Margaret Robinson told the committee that she was happy to organise a meeting of the group.

She added that there was money in the Local Transport Plan to review speed restrictions along the A697 and would arrange follow-up meetings.

She said: “We have been looking at the A697 for a long time. We have implemented improvement measures but there is still some work to do.

“Let’s see what the issues are and target some future action.”

• A determined effort is being made by the county council to bolster the economic regeneration of the county, the north area committee was told.

During Monday’s meeting, one resident asked members whether there were enough business opportunities in Northumberland to support figures quoted in the draft Core Strategy, which stated that more than 24,000 homes need to be built by 2031 if the county is to hold its own in terms of economic growth.

Coun Robert Arckless said: “This is a very important issue. It is difficult to attract new businesses, but we have refocused the finances that we have to give a better focus on economic regeneration and there is a lead member and lead officer responsible.”

Coun Ian Lindley added: “A new committee has been set up to drive policy forward in terms of tourism, leisure, arts and culture. It was set up in May but I am optimistic that it will form a big part of regeneration opportunities.”