PLANS by Highways England to spend £30m to improve the A69 have been met with opposition from Tynedale councillors.

The councillors this week called for Highways England to rethink the whole scheme after discussing the scheme at Tynedale Local Area Council meeting on Tuesday.

The year-long construction project is due to get under way in March to create 18 miles of continuous dual carriageway between Newcastle and Hexham, and enable drivers to bypass the Styford and Bridge End roundabouts.

But the councillors say the money would be better spent elsewhere on the road.

And concerns have been raised over the closure of the A69 gap at the Newton junction.

Coun. Karen Quinn for Bywell said: “You are completely changing the character of Newton by making it one way and forcing all the traffic up the main street and down a tiny lane.

“It’s a recipe for disaster.”

Coun. Ian Hutchinson for Haltwhistle said: “What a waste of money. You’re not going to speed traffic up and the flow won’t change.

“The A69 should have been duelled long before the A66.”

Project manager for Highways England, Russell McClean said despite a long term aspiration to dual the A69, the cost was currently estimated at £1.5bn and 50 times more than the cost of junction improvements.

But Coun. Cath Homer for Hexham said the West End junction at Two Mile Cottages was more crucial than the Bridge End roundabout.

She said: “I would bet anything there have been more accidents at this spot than at Bridge End or Styford roundabouts.”

Coun. Alan Sharp for Haydon and Hadrian added: “I believe there should have been a consultation with all the people of Tynedale on the plans for the A69. We all feel shortchanged.

“I have campaigned for five years for safety improvements to the A69 and not a thing has been done by Highways England despite a lot of promises.”

Russell McClean explained: “We have an asset development team who continually look at the A69 so we can target particular places where accidents happen.”

But according to South Tynedale’s councillor Colin Horncastle, this had not made a difference.

“We haven’t got the money to engineer out our accident blackspots but there’s money for a congestion relief fund,” he said.

“Why not close the fund or take money out of it and put right what local people round here know we need?”

Concluding the meeting, Coun. Gordon Stewart said: “Go back to the drawing board and start again,

“It’s not what the communities want.”