My last column shared just some of the hundreds of millions of your money being invested in North Northumberland.
People are rightly asking about progress on dualling our stretch of the A1. Commuting, popping to the shops and driving to surgeries, I rely on local roads too. I know how important improvements are in rural areas. That’s why I’ve long been committed to dualling, and I’m determined to deliver.
My campaigning secured £290 million of A1 investment, but since then, last year’s ‘Union Connectivity Review’ recommended studying and identifying the most effective and impactful improvement opportunities along the east coast. This pushed back the final decision on proposals for our A1 between Morpeth and Ellingham to this September.
As ever, endless demands compete for your money, making identifying the most impactful important. These are difficult times, with Coronavirus then Putin’s war affecting energy prices and inflation – the number one enemy that makes everyone poorer. Being honest about these realities is important – but so too is my work, as your MP, making the case for dualling the A1 to top that list.
As our economy recovers, the Chancellor has been taking immediate action to fix problems families are facing, while putting long-term solutions in place. I’ve written before about household support, including the £200 million of Government support for our constituency during the pandemic and how Government support subsidised around half of typical households' energy bills over the winter. The latter kept inflation four percentage points lower than it might have reached.
That’s why we have five priorities: halve inflation, grow the economy, reduce debt, cut waiting lists and stop the boats. We’re on track. A million more employees on payroll than pre-pandemic, while UK inflation has fallen faster than expected to the lowest in more than a year.
So while a host of important capital projects, like dualling, are on pause – giving the Chancellor valuable flexibility – pausing does not mean cancellation!
Nor does everything stop. A1 resurfacing between Wandylaw and Warenford started in June, while Northumberland Council receives almost £22 million every year from the Government to repair and improve roads.
I share disappointment at delays, but know fair-minded readers will agree that those advocating I should have disregarded Ministerial Code rules about carefully avoiding conflicts of interest in Ministers’ constituencies and instead abused my month as Transport Secretary – actually spent tackling the rolling strikes holding railways hostage – to rush through a planning decision are being sadly disingenuous.