Labour shadow minister calls on Conservatives to deliver on A1 dualling pledge before the General Election

Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Peter Kyle visits Hexham
Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Peter Kyle visits Hexham -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

A Labour Shadow Minister has called on the Conservatives to deliver on the promise to dual the A1 before the next General Election.

Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Peter Kyle was speaking on a visit to Hexham in Northumberland to launch Labour's six "first steps for change" alongside newly elected North East Mayor Kim McGuinness and the party's Hexham Constituency parliamentary candidate Joe Morris. Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the Hove MP said he refused to let the Conservatives "off the hook".

In April, Roads Minister and Hexham MP Guy Opperman vowed to get the project to dual the A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham "back on track" following a series of delays. A decision on the 13-mile stretch of road is expected on June 5, although that decision has already been pushed back four times - most recently in September 2023.

Asked whether Labour would commit to the project, Mr Kyle said: "We're not in Government yet. What I'm not going to do yet is let the Tories off the hook.

"They have been in power for 14 years and they have been in power locally as well, having local MPs that should be championing this and they have failed. They have a few more months left of this rag-tag Government, their job ids to deliver this now and deliver on their promises."

Asked what would happen if this didn't happen, Mr Kyle continued: "The Labour Party, if we win the next election, is going to have to pick up the pieces of Tory failure right across our country.

"There are eight million people waiting for treatment on the NHS, we have schools where the roofs are falling in, we have had practically zero growth in our economy for the last decade and no wage growth for 12 years. Whether it is universities, whether it is the NHS, schools or public services people are turning to Labour to fix these fundamental problems.

"If they leave us with one more thing to pick up in this road, then of course we will have to sort these problems out - but these are decisions that will have to be taken the other side of an election, when we know precisely how many things they have failed to deliver on in the mean time."

Speaking last month, Mr Opperman said that the Government "clearly" wanted to build the A1 and that it would be a "massive step forward". He also blamed the delays with the decision on the coronavirus pandemic.

The original deadline for the decision was in January 2022. It is now almost a decade since then-chancellor George Osborne rubber-stamped a £290m scheme to dual the same stretch of road in his 2014 autumn statement. At the time, work was expected to start within two years and completed within three years.

Speaking in September, then-Minister of State for Transport, Huw Merriman. He said it had been "necessary" to extend the deadline for the decision and said it would allow more time for the application to be considered.