Reshuffle gives fresh hope to A1 campaigners

Sir Alan Beith
Sir Alan Beith
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LAST week’s cabinet reshuffle has given fresh hope to campaigners calling for the A1 to be made a dual carriageway north of Morpeth.

Berwick MP Alan Beith has invited new Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to see for himself why the work needs to be done.

The LibDem MP has joined fellow MPs, councillors and campaigners in stepping up calls for the 50-mile two-lane stretch of the A1 between fair Moor, north of Morpeth, and Berwick to be dualled.

The current single carriageway stretches are an accident hazard and an obstacle to growth for Northumbrian businesses, they say.

Mr Beith is hoping Mr McLoughlin will agree to take a look at the stretches of the A1 between Morpeth and Felton, and at Mousen Bends near Belford, regarded as particularly hazardous.

Mr Beith said: “I hope the new Transport Secretary will make an early visit to Northumberland to see for himself how investment work on the A1 would contribute to the region’s economy, to safer road travel and to making progress on the missing links in the dual carriageway between Tyneside and the east of Scotland.

“I have issued an invitation, and will be delighted to meet him and make the case for work on the A1 as a priority.”

Newbiggin county councillor Alan Thompson raised the issue of the A1 with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg during his recent visit to the region.

Mr Beith added: “The A1 is always on the agenda when I have discussions with ministers from the Department for Transport and from the Treasury.

“Funding for upgrades at Mousen and between Morpeth and Felton would be put to work very quickly as routes on these two stretches have already been agreed.

“I’m continuing to push for these schemes to be included in the next round of government-funded infrastructure projects.”

Mr McLoughlin, MP for Derbyshire Dales, replaces Justine Greening as head of the Department for Transport.

The 54-year-old, a junior transport minister from 1989 to 1992, will have to contend with issues including the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport and controversy over the west coast main rail line franchise.

Ms Greening, MP for Putney in London, was only transport secretary for 11 months.