STAFF at the Hexham Courant were questioned this week on whether the paper was in favour of the £30m plans by Highways England to carry out junction improvement work at Bridge End roundabout in Hexham and the Styford roundabout in Corbridge.

As a platform which provides a voice for the people of the Tyne Valley to share their triumphs and their tragedies, as well as air their concerns, it should go without saying that we will celebrate any investment in our beautiful part of county which improves the lives of residents.

However, where public opinion demands it, we will also be on hand to question such an investment if local people – armed with local knowledge and wisdom – feel the need to call for answers.

It would certainly be fair to say the plans to create 18 miles of continuous dual carriageway between Newcastle and Hexham, with a road bridge at Styford roundabout and an underpass at Bridge End in Hexham, have attracted their fair share of opposition since they were announced.

So much so that it remains unclear what will happen with 50 per cent of the scheme – the upgrade at Styford – which saw residents of communities including Newton and Bywell come out in force to object to proposed changes to junctions and access to their villages.

Let’s not forget, the leader of Northumberland County Council spoke out in May to confirm that the council was on the verge of withdrawing its support for the project due to frustration over delays.

As a result, Highways England put the plan on hold in January for further design work to take place, and we are yet to hear the outcome.

Now, as preparatory work for the Bridge End scheme continues and work to install permanent average speed cameras on the A69 west of Hexham gets under way, it’s only natural that the merits of the project are scrutinised by the public once more.