THREE months after work began on a £30m upgrade for the A69, Northumberland County Council has withdrawn its support due to a lack of progress.

Work on the scheme ground to a halt after concerns were raised about the planned changes to Hexham’s Bridge End and Corbridge’s Styford roundabouts with council leader, Coun. Peter Jackson, branding talks with Highways England “frustrating”.

Officials from Highways England pledged to reconsider the proposals earlier this year in response to a public backlash, but months later communities remain in the dark about how and when the project will be delivered.

The work on the A69 would 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.

But the plans for Styford came under huge opposition from nearby residents, including Lord Allendale, over plans to change junctions along the route, which would affect access to their villages. As a result Highways England put the plan on hold in January for further design work to take place.

Meanwhile the temporary diversion plans for Bridge End came under fire from county councillors after it was announced it would not be possible to turn right on the roundabout from any direction, sending motorists coming from the west en-route to Hexham to Styford to turn around, and those from Hexham heading east being forced to travel the opposite direction to Acomb and then turn around.

A petition by county councillor for Hexham west, Coun. Derek Kennedy, calling for the scheme to be scrapped, was handed in to county council supported by 1,522 signatures.

Highways England said in March it was going back to the drawing board with its plans for Bridge End, with the county council’s director of local services and housing, Paul Jones, telling that month’s Tynedale Local Area Council that they were “to come back with new proposals by the end of next week”.

Now Coun. Jackson has said the authority will no longer be backing the scheme, with councillors growing increasingly frustrated at the perceived lack of interest from the road agency in the roundabout at Styford.

“We are actually at the stage where we are withdrawing our support to Highways England’s current proposals,” he said.

“The main strategic reason is they haven’t come up with a viable proposal for Styford roundabout and, to do Bridge End without doing that doesn’t give any long term benefits to the motorists on the A69.”

Coun. Jackson said he was also angered by the unwillingness from Highways England to take into account the impact the roadworks at Bridge End would have.

Despite this, Highways England maintained this week that the traffic management plan had been agreed with the county council.

Hexham’s MP Guy Opperman said it was time to get the work started.

“It is important that we now see some revised and improved plans from Highways England,” he said. “I will be meeting senior representatives from Highways England in Parliament within the next two weeks and will be raising this issue with them then.

“I hope local people will get behind this project and, despite some potential short-term inconvenience, see the significant long-term benefits for Hexham and the communities along the Tyne Valley.”