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Transport Secretary says further dualling of A1 'will need to be looked at'

The Transport Secretary talks to reporters near the A1 Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has visited the A1 in Northumberland, in the week that a major upgrade of the road was announced.

£290m will be spent on the improvements, which will include a dualling of single carriageway sections between Morpeth and Ellingham, north of Alnwick. The news follows years of campaigning by local residents and businesses.

There will also be some work on the stretch between Ellingham and Berwick, including improvements to junctions and overtaking lanes, though this section will remain single carriageway.

Mr McLoughlin described the announcement as a 'massive investment'.

He told ITV Tyne Tees there would always be a case for taking the work further and this would need to be looked at in the future.

Council leader to "send Chancellor a map"

Newcastle council leader Nick Forbes says he is going to send George Osborne a map so that he realises that a "northern powerhouse" would stretch as far as the North East.

Cllr Forbes says he will mark Newcastle on the map so that the Chancellor doesn't ignore his city when there's talk of a northern powerhouse, which includes Manchester and Leeds.


Professor welcomes £20m funding for research

John Burn , the professor of Clinical Genetics at Newcastle University, has welcomed news in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement that there will be £20m of new funding into research in Newcastle.

The money will go towards investigating the effects of an ageing population on the NHS.

Click below for Professor Burn's comments.

Sure Start petition handed to Number 10

Cllr Nick Forbes hands the petition to Number 10 Downing Street Credit: ITV News

Parents and politicians were among a delegation which has delivered a petition to Downing Street over the future of Sure Start in Newcastle.

Sure Start programmes offer support to parents and children in less privileges communities.

Fifteen centres are under review, as part of wider spending cuts. The city council is looking to save more than £4million on family services, blaming the Government's spending squeeze.

The petition was organised by the trade union Unison, which says it collected three and a half thousand names.

"It's taking away a basic amenity and if you take away the basic amenities that children need to grow up, you have taken away everything. "

– Mary Jane Opalah, mother

"No one should ever have to live the way the North East people are living and that's why we've come down today to show David Cameron that we're willing to fight for it."

– Lynne Milburn, mother

"We held off cuts to Sure Start for as long as possible. This is the third year of a three year budget and we've looked at everything else before we've got to this desperate stage and unless the Government changes track we'll be forced to go ahead with these cuts."

– Cllr Nick Forbes, Newcastle City Council leader

In response, the Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins said that every part of the public sector needs to contribute to paying off the deficit left by the last administration.

“Since 2010 this Government has delivered a fair settlement to every part of the country while giving them greater financial independence so they can deliver sensible savings while protecting front-line services.

Leaving aside schools due to the move to academies, Newcastle’s spending has actually increased under this Government. And the new financial powers granted to Newcastle through their City Deal are set to bring £1bn investment into the area in the coming years.

The majority of local authorities have continued to balance their budgets whilst reducing council tax in real-terms and increased or maintained public satisfaction with services. "

– Kris Hopkins MP, Local Government Minister

Final decisions have yet to be made by Newcastle city council over the future of its Sure Start programmes.


Leader of Newcastle City Council says A1 plans 'should be welcomed'

Cllr Nick Forbes, regional transport lead for the North East Combined Authority, says today's Government announcement in highways infrastructure in the north east 'should be welcomed'.

The North East Combined Authority (NECA) together with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been lobbying the Government for improvements to the A1 and to the A19 for some time.

Today’s announcement is to be welcomed, particularly given the history of underfunding of transport investment in the North East.

We will need to continue to press the case, since announcements on the A1 have been made in the past and not delivered.

We will therefore be working closely with the Highways Agency and the Department for Transport to ensure that these much needed investments are delivered quickly and with the minimum disruption to road users.

– Cllr Nick Forbes

Civil Engineering Contractors' Association 'waiting for the small print' of A1 plans

The North East sector of the Civil Engineering Contractors' Association, which represents 75 firms in the region, has welcomed the Government's roads announcement but says that more detail is needed for when starts will be made, particularly on the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham.

It’s excellent news altogether that out of a total spend promised of £15bn some £2.3bn is pledged to 18 schemes in the North East and Yorkshire. Unfortunately, we shall have to wait for the small print to find out the when and how of the projects. It is also unclear whether this is totally new money, or whether it includes money previously promised for some of these schemes that are already under way. All the improvements detailed for the North East are much needed.

One instinctively questions speed of intent considering it is more than four decades since dualling of the A1 right through Northumberland was first raised in the Commons. There will still be 25 miles yet to be dualled on this key link between England and Scotland and some of the worst bottlenecks are on those 25 miles where lesser improvements are now promised.

But if what is promised for our region goes ahead soon it will be brilliant not only for our industry but also for our region’s economy.

– Regional director Douglas Kell

Transport strategy announcement 'does little to help Tees Valley' says Middlesbrough MP

Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, says the announcement of the Governments Road Investment Strategy "only serves to confirm that David Cameron and his colleagues are totally out of touch when it comes to Tees Valley."

This announcement today pays scant regard to our transport needs. We have appalling congestion on the Tees Flyover which was recently exacerbated by the lengthy closure of Newport Bridge and it’s obvious that we need another road crossing of the Tees. As a sop, we are given improvements to the A19 between Norton and Wynyard.

That is all well and good but we need much more than the stated investment in such a short stretch of roadway. In addition to improvements to the A1, we also need the A19 upgrading to motorway status as well as improved east –west connections between the two major highways.

They simply do not comprehend the importance of our region to the nation’s economic prosperity both now and in the years ahead.

– Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough

Conservative candidate for Berwick makes A1 pledge to 'see the job through'

Anne-Marie Trevelyan with the Prime Minister, David Cameron

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Founder and Director of the 'Dual the A1 Campaign' and the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Berwick has personally pledged to “see the job through” following the Prime Minister's announcement of a £290m investment package to dual the A1 from Newcastle to Ellingham.

The £290m package includes the first 13 miles of road fully dualled, then 2 crawler lanes on the most stretches north of Ellingham and 3 major junction improvements, including the Holy Island turning.

The package of investment aims to reduce bottlenecks and improve road safety.

This is fantastic news for the North East and for every family who has suffered a loss on the road.

The Prime Minister has assured me that the work can start straight away.

The Dual the A1 campaign, and myself personally, hopefully as the member of parliament, will maintain the pressure for the A1 (north of Ellingham) to also be dualled so that the road from London to Edinburgh is 21st century road all of the way up.

Now we have managed to cross the starting line, I personally pledge to see the job through.

– Anne-Marie Trevelyan
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