Berwick MP dismisses criticism of A1 dualling decision timing and reveals hopes for North Northumberland if re-elected

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Berwick MP Anne Marie Trevelyan has dismissed criticism of the Government decision to approve dualling part of the A1 in the run-up to the General Election.

The long-awaited scheme was controversially given the go-ahead on Friday after previously being delayed four times. The timing of the decision was branded “cynical” and “embarrassing” by the Conservatives’ political opponents.

But Ms Trevelyan, who is running in the newly established North Northumberland constituency, has hit back: “The criticism just suggests they don’t understand how the planning inspectorate works. The deadline would have been next week, but when a General Election is called you get 48 hours to finish things off.

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“I was very keen to get the Secretary of State for Transport’s time focused on the A1. He could have decided either way, there was nothing cynical about it.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan campaigning in Alnwick.Anne-Marie Trevelyan campaigning in Alnwick.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan campaigning in Alnwick.

“The delays were a consequence of environmental groups who sued the Department for Transport over its road building programme. The A1 is incredibly well thought-through and passed all the environmental tests.

“Those who sued the Government failed to stop us but did slow down the process. I’m really excited and once we get those 13 miles done we can move on to campaigning to get it down up to Berwick – there is more to do.”

Unsurprisingly, when asked about her achievements during her time in office since first elected in 2014, Ms Trevelyan was quick to point to the A1.

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She continued: “I’m really excited that our ‘dual the A1’ campaign has now reached the point where it can actually get going. It takes a really long time to do such major infrastructure, but now we’re ready to receive diggers.

David Smith, Labour candidate for North Northumberland, was joined by shadow science minister and Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah on the campaign trail in Alnwick.David Smith, Labour candidate for North Northumberland, was joined by shadow science minister and Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah on the campaign trail in Alnwick.
David Smith, Labour candidate for North Northumberland, was joined by shadow science minister and Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah on the campaign trail in Alnwick.

“I’m really proud of the fact that we have got our new hospital in Berwick, the new school in Amble is under way and Duchess in Alnwick is already done. We have been able to get the Conservative council focusing on some really important things in North Northumberland which had previously been ignored in favour of the south east.

“We’ve seen really good progress in nine years, but there is always more to do. My focus is on getting the diggers in, and I want to see a new Berwick Academy built.

“The Alnwick Infirmary needs attention and we need to do work around dentistry. I’m also really keen to get to grips with housing, building the right houses in the right place for the right people.”

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Nationally, the Conservatives are currently well behind in the polls.

Asked what the party could do to win back voters, Ms Trevelyan – who served in Liz Truss’s cabinet – admitted: “It has been a tough parliament.

“We had Covid two months in which was a huge, traumatic shock for the whole country, with massive costs. Just as we were recovering, Putin invaded Ukraine which pushed up prices and affected all of us.

“You have to focus on the crisis of the day and we have had two massive ones. Going forward the Prime Minister has been really clear that there is a clear plan.

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“It’s really important we have a secure future. The world is a very unstable place.

“I’m quite fond of Keir (Starmer), he’s a sensible man – but backing Corbyn twice doesn’t give me any confidence at all.”

Labour candidate David Smith labelled the A1 announcement a ‘political stunt’.

"This project was first promised by Anne Marie Trevelyan and David Cameron as long ago as 2014,” he said.

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“Only the Tories would try and claim credit for a vital infrastructure project that they promised literally a decade ago and have repeatedly failed to deliver. This can’t go on. We need an MP and a government who will finally take the actions that prioritise the safety of all A1 road users.”

Lib Dem candidate Natalie Younes added: “It is no surprise that, as we predicted, for the fourth election running, the Conservatives are promising to dual the A1. The decision by the Secretary of State for Transport on Friday to grant development consent takes us one step closer but does not guarantee delivery.

"How can they be trusted to build the infrastructure we need to improve connectivity in Northumberland when they can't even manage to fill the holes in our roads?”

Also standing in the North Northumberland constituency are Jan Rosen for the Green Party and Katherine Hales for Reform UK.