Beith piles on A1 pressure

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MP Sir Alan Beith is keeping up the pressure to dual the A1 in Northumberland.

The Berwick Member, whose constituency reaches to just north of Morpeth, raised the issue during Treasury Questions in the House of Commons last week.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Greg Clark reported to MPs that he would be visiting Newcastle soon to discuss the implementation of the North East Economic Review.

So Sir Alan invited him to take in an outing to Northumberland during the trip and see the importance of the A1 to business.

He said: “Will the Minister go a little further north when he goes to Newcastle and have a look at Northumberland, where we are proud of our record on exporting manufacturing businesses?

“Will he also continue the good work of Treasury Ministers in encouraging the Department for Transport to consider a properly dualled A1 to link us to the markets and places where we can do business in this country and abroad?”

Mr Clark agreed to the request. “I shall certainly do that,” he said.

“One of the bright spots in the North East is its exporting of manufacturing goods, particularly in areas of high technology. Exports in specialised manufacturing were up 24 per cent in the last year and power-generating machinery was up 20 per cent.

“I shall certainly visit some of the businesses in the North East, including in Northumberland, to encourage them to do more.”

After the debate, Sir Alan said he will follow up the discussion and will continue to put Ministers on the spot about the road upgrade.

“I shall be contacting the Minister’s office to make sure he is able to fulfil his promise,” he said.

“I raise the issue of dualling the A1 at every opportunity with as many Ministers as possible to keep up the pressure for funding.

“Now the A1 has been upgraded to a route of strategic national importance we are in competition with other very busy roads in the country for funding for improvements, but this will not deter me from making sure the A1 is at the front of Ministers’ minds when decisions are being made about the allocation of funding.”

He added: “The Liberal Democrats understand the importance of investing in infrastructure for business and in Northumberland this means our superfast broadband network and our road network.

“Work is continuing on the broadband improvements and it would be very satisfying to make further progress on the A1 as well.”