Campaign to dual the A1 goes to both Houses

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Campaigners fighting for the dualling of the A1 north of Morpeth are piling on the pressure at the heart of government.

Politicians have raised the issue in both the Commons and Lords in the last week as they seek progress to improve the route.

In a House of Lords debate on the Draft National Policy Statement on National Networks last Thursday, Lord Bradshaw said the road needs urgent attention and highlighted the work by Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith in pushing for action.

“Nobody can deny that some road schemes urgently require attention,” he said.

“I am not saying that no road scheme can be good, some roads need to be dealt with very urgently. I will give as an example the A1, which runs through Northumberland.

“This has been the object of constant pressure from my honourable friend, the Member for Berwick upon Tweed, for the whole of his Parliamentary career.

“I checked this morning and nothing has happened. Sometimes I wonder whether it is because that road is in the north of England and well away from London that it gets no proper consideration.”

Earlier, Sir Alan himself challenged Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin in the House of Commons to make sure there are no further delays to a study on the A1 north of Newcastle.

He said: “Since the Chief Secretary to the Treasury made a firm commitment a year ago and the Transport Secretary has given the scheme his strong personal support, can he get a move on?

“At the moment, with all these studies, it feels a bit like being stuck in slow-moving traffic on the A1.”

Mr McLoughlin said: “I think we are making progress. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned in his question the fact that the Chief Secretary is involved. If the Chief Secretary and the Transport Secretary are of one mind on this, I very much hope that we will be able to make some progress.

“It is important that when the works are being carried out, measures are put in place to deal with the environmental consequences and the objections that people might raise.”

After the debate, Sir Alan said: “We have to keep up the pressure on the Department for Transport, which moves at the speed of an old tractor and trailer.”

Meanwhile, Borders MP and Northumberland Liberal Democrat campaigner Julie Porksen have written a joint letter to Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander asking for support for dualling the A1, saying it is a key link between England and Scotland.