WORK is complete on a £6.5m scheme to improve the road network in rural Northumberland.

It comes after the county council successfully bid for a share of £75 million from the government’s national Highway Maintenance Challenge Fund, after local authorities put forward schemes which could make a real difference to road users.

Northumberland County Council was the only local authority in the region and one of only eight in the whole of England to have secured successive back-to-back awards from the national Highway Maintenance Challenge Fund.

The £5m Department for Transport funding, combined with a further £1.5m input from the council, allowed for improvements to almost 26km of highway along three key routes in the more rural parts of the county.

The improvements were carried out on the C200 road at Kielder and the C205 at Stonehaugh, along with the C172 between Whittingham and Netherton.

Paul Jones, director of local services at Northumberland County Council, said: “We put forward a very robust bid which highlighted the significant economic benefits of improving these particular roads, which despite being in some of the most rural parts of the county, are well used, being vital routes for the timber industry, quarrying and tourism sectors as well as the residents who use them each day.

“Due to their remote locations, teams have endured some extreme weather and we’re delighted the schemes have been completed to such a high standard.

“These roads are key links between many rural communities so it’s very important they are maintained and improved.”