Council leader 'absolutely delighted' dualling of A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham to go ahead after HS2 cuts
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Rishi Sunak made the promise during his speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on Wednesday, saying he would use the money saved from scrapping the northern leg of HS2 to fund road upgrades across the country, including on the A1.
The Department for Transport’s website was swiftly updated to outline the projects set to benefit, which included funding to dual the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham.
The announcement comes just weeks after ministers pushed back a decision on whether to fund the project by a further nine months. A decision was not expected until June next year.
Speaking following the announcement, the leader of Northumberland County Council Glen Sanderson welcomed the news.
He said: “I am absolutely delighted. I think it is very important. There is no denying that the projects like getting the A1 upgrade done are incredibly important.
“It is crucial spending and support we are getting and I thoroughly appreciate that. Hopefully we will see more in the future, but I am very pleased.”
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “The dualling of the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham confirmed by the Prime Minister today is fantastic news.
“After years of campaigning to dual the A1, I’ve been relentlessly in the ear of every Minister and Prime Minister – with much-appreciated help from every constituent who has signed one of my petitions to show how strongly we feel.
“Today’s reinvestment of every single penny in the hundreds of transport infrastructure projects that will make a real difference across our nation shows this Government is listening.
“On top of dualling the A1, the increased funding for the Bus Service Improvement Plan for the North, the extra £3.9billion for the six northern combined authorities and the extra road resurfacing fund are very welcome news.”
But Cllr Isabel Hunter, who represents the Berwick West with Ord ward on the county council, remained sceptical.
Cllr Hunter, who also owns a haulage business, has long campaigned for the A1 to be dualled all the way up to the Scottish border, and is wary of celebrating after a series of broken promises from successive governments going back to 1990.
She said: “I welcome the Prime Minister using the funding for the further north of England. I do hope that he will adhere to the promise.
“I still will not believe it until the spades are in the ground and the diggers are on site. I am disappointed for the people who were going to benefit from HS2, but it is at least going to help the people of Northumberland.
“Hopefully when they do that stretch, they will look further north to get up to the Scottish Border. I hope it is not an election promise and that it will actually come to fruition.”
In June, a Freedom of Information Request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service found that there had been 129 accidents on the two single-carriageway sections of the A1 in Northumberland since the start of 2019. Of these, 32 were deemed as “serious” by police and five resulted in fatalities.