Northumberland politicians respond after A1 dualling between Morpeth and Ellingham signed off by government ahead of general election

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Government approval for plans to upgrade the A1 in Northumberland has been welcomed by Conservative politicians but chalked up as an election stunt by Labour.

An already-delayed decision on the project was expected to be pushed back even further after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a general election for July 4, but the development consent order was signed off on behalf of Transport Secretary Mark Harper on Friday evening.

Work will involve dualling the eight mile single carriageway section of the A1 between Morpeth and Felton and the five mile single carriageway stretch between Alnwick and Ellingham to create a continuous dual carriageway from Newcastle to Ellingham.

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Works will include new junctions at Highlaws, Fenrother, West Moor, and Charlton Mires as well as a new bridge where the A1 crosses the River Coquet and a new section of road between Priests Bridge and Burgham Park, where the old section of the A1 will become a council-managed local road.

Single carriageway sections of the A1 will be dualled between Morpeth and Ellingham. (Photo by Jane Coltman)Single carriageway sections of the A1 will be dualled between Morpeth and Ellingham. (Photo by Jane Coltman)
Single carriageway sections of the A1 will be dualled between Morpeth and Ellingham. (Photo by Jane Coltman)

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Conservative MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed who has campaigned for the road to be dualled, described the announcement as “fantastic news for our local communities and businesses.”

Leader of Northumberland County Council Glen Sanderson said: “Everyone who works, lives, or travels in our great county knows how much our main road needs dualling, but now that Conservative commitment is here and real.

“We need that safe and up-to-date spine between England and Scotland, and soon this will become a reality.”

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Bamburgh councillor Guy Renner-Thompson added: "We were expecting this announcement in June and a huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to get the sign off before government work stops for the election.

“These big infrastructure projects are not as simple as putting tarmac on the ground. People who live next to the expanded A1 have their lives and livelihoods uprooted, so it is only right every stone is overturned investigating the impacts of the work.”

The timing of the announcement has, however, been called into question by other political parties.

Labour candidate David Smith, who is contesting the new North Northumberland seat against Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “This project was first promised by Anne-Marie Trevelyan and David Cameron as long ago as 2014.

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“Northumbrians can see right through this announcement for the political stunt that it is. 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 cannot go on. We need an MP and a government who will finally take the actions that prioritise the safety of all A1 road users.”

Natalie Younes, the Lib Dem candidate for North Northumberland, said: “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.

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"With a litany of broken promises behind them, we know the Tories find it quick and easy to make promises and equally easy to drop them after an election. Their credibility is shot.

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

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