A1 in Northumberland 'must be dualled' for those who have been 'hurt and killed' in past 30 years
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Coun Glen Sanderson said he was “surprised and disappointed” on Tuesday when the Government delayed a long-awaited final decision on proposals to dual the road from Morpeth to Ellingham by an additional nine months.
The DfT decision was originally due in January 2022, but has now been delayed four times – much to the frustration of campaigners who have spent more than three decades fighting to get the work done.
Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council, Coun Sanderson said he believed the door was still open despite the latest set back – and pledged to “knock the door down” if necessary.
The Conservative councillor said: “The door is still open. Many, many other projects have been ditched completely. It is up to us to continue to make the case on behalf of the people we all represent – that making changes to this road is essential.
“This is a road that looks like it is from the 1950s and it is a road that should be fit for where we are now, for all the people that use it to get to work, to take the kids to school, for our tourists and our industries, and particularly for those people who have been hurt or killed on those single-carriageway sections over the last 20 to 30 years since we have been campaigning for this.
“For them, we must do everything we can to make this road safer.”
Earlier this year, 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.
Northumberland Labour leader Coun Scott Dickinson said: “Coun Sanderson is saying he is pushing against an open door – but the open door has been closed for the fourth time, this is fourth stall on this project.”
Independent group leader Derek Kennedy added: “This is about is as Northumberland suffering at the expense of a lack of decision making. The A1 is the key artery that links the whole of the county together.”
Responding to their concerns, Coun Sanderson called for unity and implored his opposite numbers not to make it a “party political issue”.
Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, chairman of Belford Parish Council and Conservative Bamburgh ward county councillor, said after the meeting: “This further delay in duelling the A1 is heartbreaking for many in north Northumberland.
“In the last few weeks I’ve witnessed two accidents on the A1. A wagon driver in my ward has been on the phone in desperation, with drivers reporting near misses every day with frustrated drivers dangerously overtaking lorries.
“At a recent council meeting, members from most political parties and independents were united in their frustration with the delay. The only party silent so far are the Greens, who have a history opposing vital road upgrades.
“I repeat the call I made in 2022 for residents to write directly to the Transport Secretary to make our feelings known, which I have done.”