Wednesday, December 12, 2012
HOPES that a dangerous stretch of the A1 through Huntingdonshire might benefit from some of the Chancellor’s millions for road improvements have been dashed.
In his Autumn Statement, George Osborne said the Government was “committing an extra £1 billion” for four major schemes.
One of these was to “upgrade key sections of the Al, bringing the route from London to Newcastle up to motorway standard”.
However, the Highways Agency confirmed to The Hunts Post yesterday (Tuesday) that there are no plans to upgrade the major commuter route in Cambridgeshire. Instead, a spokesman said that “the route from London to Newcastle” actually referred to the M1, not the length of the A1 from the M25.
She said: “There is no need to upgrade the part of the A1 in Cambridgeshire because it is not part of the motorway route from London to Newcastle.”
She added: “That’s not to say there won’t be any improvements in the future - but there no plans at the moment.”
It is a bitter disappointment for members of the A1 Safety group, who are residents of Buckden, Southoe and Diddington – and whose daily lives are blighted by the road.
The notorious “Southoe bends” have claimed the lives of many motorists – including 21-year-old father-to-be Drew Graham, who died last year.
Alan Marnes is chairman of Southoe and Midloe Parish Council and is a member of the A1 Safety Group.
He said: “As part of my duties as chairman of the parish council, I get sent accident figures and over the years they have made for very grim reading. We have had promises of all sorts of things over the years but nothing has ever materialised. We were the first section of the A1 to be dualled, in the late fifties/early sixties, but ever since then we have been forgotten.”
He added: “I am very disappointed to say the least. It seemed like the whole of the A1 was going to be upgraded. The people in Southoe, Buckden and Diddington have lived for the past 20 years as a poor relation to other places on the A1, which have had their upgrades. They have done Stibbington to the north and Tempsford to the south but we just sit here, languishing in our isolation.”
£378million has been earmarked to sections of the A1 in Northern England: £314m will be spent making improvements to a 13-mile stretch of the road between Leeming Bar and Barton in North Yorkshire, with the remaining £64m earmarked for a scheme at Lobley Hill in Gateshead, Tyneside.
The Government has also budgeted £603m for highways maintenance and improving “pinch points” on strategic as well as local routes.