Berwick MP Anne Marie Trevelyan dismisses criticism of A1 dualling decision timing

Anne-Marie Trevelyan leaving 10 Downing Street, London
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Berwick MP Anne Marie Trevelyan has dismissed criticism of the Government decision to dual the A1 in the run-up to the General Election.

The long-awaited scheme was controversially given the go-ahead on Friday after previously being delayed four times. The timing of the decision was branded "cynical" and "embarrassing" by the Conservatives' political opponents, coming ahead of an election they are predicted to lose.

But Ms Trevelyan, who is running in the newly established North Northumberland constituency, has hit back at these claims. Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, she made her case for re-election.

The former Transport Secretary said: "The criticism just suggests they don't understand how the planning inspectorate works. The deadline would have been next week, but when a General Election is called you get 48 hours to finish things off.

"I was very keen to get the Secretary of State for Transport's time focused on the A1. He could have decided either way, there was nothing cynical about it.

"The delays were a consequence of environmental groups who sued the Department for Transport over its road building programme. The A1 is incredibly well thought-through and passed all the environmental tests.

"Those who sued the Government failed to stop us but did slow down the process. I'm really excited and once we get those 13 miles done we can move on to campaigning to get it down up to Berwick - there is more to do."

Unsurprisingly, when asked about her achievements during her time in office since first elected in 2014, Ms Trevelyan was quick to point to the A1.

She continued: "I'm really excited that our 'dual the A1' campaign has now reached the point where it can actually get going. It takes a really long time to do such major infrastructure, but now we're ready to receive diggers.

"I'm really proud of the fact that we have got our new hospital in Berwick, the new school in Amble is under way and Duchess in Alnwick is already done. We have been able to get the Conservative council focusing on some really important things in North Northumberland which had previously been ignored in favour of the south east.

"We've seen really good progress in nine years, but there is always more to do. My focus is on getting the diggers in, and I want to see a new Berwick Academy built.

"The Alnwick Infirmary needs attention and we need to do work around dentistry. I'm also really keen to get to grips with housing, building the right houses in the right place for the right people."

Current polling by Britain Elects and the New Statesman puts Labour slightly ahead in the North Northumberland constituency. Charity boss David Smith, who was unveiled as the party's candidate last week, is predicted to receive 32.5% of the vote, compared to Ms Trevelyan and the Tories on 30.3%.

Nationally, the Conservatives are currently well behind in the polls - the Britain Elects poll tracker puts the Tories at 23.4%, while Labour sit on 45.1%. This would give Labour 417 seats compared to 124 for the Tories.

Asked what the party could do to win back voters, Ms Trevelyan - who served in Liz Truss's cabinet - admitted: "It has been a tough parliament.

"We had Covid two months in which was a huge, traumatic shock for the whole country, with massive costs. Just as we were recovering, Putin invaded Ukraine which pushed up prices and affected all of us.

"You have to focus on the crisis of the day and we have had two massive ones. Going forward the Prime Minister has been really clear that there is a clear plan.

"It's really important we have a secure future. The world is a very unstable place.

"I'm quite fond of Keir (Starmer), he's a sensible man - but backing Corbyn twice doesn't give me any confidence at all."