Region’s roads a ‘major issue’ says Cameron

The state of Yorkshire’s crumbling and overcrowded road network is now a “major issue” for the country, the Government has admitted as it pledged to find further ways to improve conditions for the region’s motorists.

Traffic builds on the A64 Leeds to Scarborough road outside York

David Cameron told the Commons there is “more work to be done” to upgrade Yorkshire’s roads following a series of reports which revealed the region is home to some of the most congested and pot-holed routes in the country.

The Prime Minister said yesterday that he and Chancellor George Osborne will “look carefully” at proposals for a long-awaited upgrade of the A64 between York and Scarborough, one of the most dangerous rural roads in the region.

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Campaigners have been battling for years to have the 35-mile stretch of road – one of North Yorkshire’s key arteries – broadened into a dual carriageway, highlighting its high casualty statistics and the long summer tailbacks which stifle economic growth on the region’s north-east coastline.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh, who chairs the Commons environment and rural affairs select committee, warned that the “buoyant” North Yorkshire economy risks being “held back” by the congestion and poor safety record of the A64, and called for the Government to take action.

In response, Mr Cameron said the Tory backbencher was “absolutely right” to raise the issue, and made clear he is concerned about the state of the roads right across Yorkshire.

“The quality and the capacity of the road system in Yorkshire has been and is a major issue,” the Prime Minister said. “The Government has taken some important steps to help, but I know there is more work to be done and I know the Chancellor was listening carefully to what she had to say. I am sure we can look carefully at this for the future roads programme.”

Initial efforts to see the entire A64 dualled faltered when costs were revealed to be as high as £500m. But a scaled down project was floated in 2011 that would see a series of smaller upgrades targeting key bottlenecks and accident blackspots, totalling £315m.

Among those campaigning for the works to begin are the Conservative leader of Ryedale District Council, Linda Cowling, who said recently: “Had the A64 been in the south of England, the upgrading of the road would have been done years ago.”

She is joined by North Yorkshire East Coroner Michael Oakley, who has conducted several inquests into fatal accidents on the road, which is carries heavy traffic year-round from Scarborough industrial estates to the A1, M1, and M62, as well as holiday traffic.

Mr Oakley has said the road urgently needs upgrading to improve safety levels and prevent further casualties, and wants immediate improvements at key blackspots such as Barton crossroads.