THE Government is coming under heavy criticism after it announced a fresh delay on the long-awaited project to dual the A1 in Northumberland.

The news that the decades-long campaign to widen the road north of Morpeth will continue for at least another nine months has been met with anger and frustration across the North East.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner and Labour’s candidate for the upcoming North East mayoral election, Kim McGuinness, hit out at Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan after the latter urged constituents to sign her petition calling on the DfT to give the project the green light.

She said: “Enough! The Tories are asking us to sign a petition to get them to do what they were elected to do.

“Their handling of this is farcical. People in Northumberland have been waiting for nearly 10 years. A disappointed video from their MP and former transport secretary is insulting.”

The Department for Transport has said more time is needed to consider “any matters relevant” to the application – but declined to comment further due to the issue relating to a live planning application.

The proposals would have seen a 13-mile stretch of road between Morpeth and Ellingham – currently one of the few remaining parts of the A1 still single-carriageway – be upgraded to a two-lane dual-carriageway.

Labour MP Ian Lavery, who represents Morpeth as part of the Wansbeck constituency, called on the Government to “get on with it”.

Mr Lavery said: “The news that the plan to dual the A1 north of Morpeth has been delayed again by a further nine months is beyond parody. The Conservatives in Northumberland have been campaigning on this one issue for decades and even with 13 years of Tory government, and for a brief spell the local MP being the actual transport minister, they still won’t simply get it done.

“That the government still won’t commit to this essential and long-delayed project sums up just how much of a farce levelling up has become. We are talking about adding a second lane to a mere 13-mile stretch on the country’s main road – why can we not just get on with it?

“If we want to get this project done and dusted once and for all the only answer is voting them out at the next election which can’t come soon enough.”

Elsewhere, Gateshead Council leader and chairman of the North East Joint Transport Committee, Martin Gannon, said the process had been “frustrating” and reiterated the importance of the scheme.

Cllr Gannon said: “The A1 Morpeth to Ellingham dualling scheme is greatly needed to improve connectivity, safety and journey times on this strategic route for the North. 

“Sadly, this further delay doesn’t come as much of a surprise following a frustratingly drawn-out process. We will work with partners to seek clarification from the government on how we can break this stagnated stage and get on with delivering this vital scheme for our region.”