Jarrow MP questions transport ministers about A19 safety

File picture: Northbound traffic at a standstill on the A19 following an incident around the Hylton Bridge.
File picture: Northbound traffic at a standstill on the A19 following an incident around the Hylton Bridge.

Improving road safety on the A19 has been brought before government ministers as an MP calls for funding to tackle the issue.

Stephen Hepburn, MP for the Jarrow, has again questioned Government Transport Ministers on what recent steps they have taken to improve road safety on the A19 in the House of Commons.

Stephen Hepburn

Stephen Hepburn

Mr Hepburn said: “The Minister will be aware that this week is Road Safety Week, and my two local newspapers, The Shields Gazette and the Sunderland Echo, are running a “Safe A19” campaign, backed by the local MPs. Bearing in mind that the Department’s safer roads fund was underspent by £75 million last year, will he commit funds to the A19 to alleviate local concerns?”

The Minister of State at the Department for Transport, Jesse Norman MP responded with: “I am grateful for the question. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the study of the A19’s safety has already been completed and is being analysed at the moment.

"The £75 million to which he refers was not underspent; the whole fund was used for the 50 schemes that were applied for and was fully discharged for that.

"Since 2011, Highways England has delivered safety improvements at many locations on the A19, and more are planned or are underway.

The Safe A19 campaign

The Safe A19 campaign

"For example, works to improve safety at Sheraton have commenced and are expected to complete by spring 2019.

"A safety review was undertaken along the A19 from Dishforth to the Tyne Tunnel in summer 2018, in order to inform further interventions.”

The Shields Gazette, Sunderland Echo and Hartlepool Mail launched launched its Safe A19 campaign last year.

So far more than 2,100 people have signed a petition to show their support.

When the Safer Roads fund was first announced back in 2017, the Government stated that it totalled £175m.

In September 2017, the A19 was rejected funding from the Government’s Safer Roads fund because it did not feature in a list of the top 50 most dangerous A roads in England.

Stephen Hepburn MP said: “I was pleased to highlight the Safe A19 campaign in Parliament during Road Safety Week.

"I welcome the fact that the Government appear to have finally begun listening to the campaign and have recently carried out a safety review of the road up to the Tyne Tunnel. I will keep the pressure up to ensure that they act on this review and improve safety.

"It was disappointing that the Minister did not address my point about the Safer Roads Fund. When it was first announced back in 2017, the Government stated that it totalled £175m. Now Transport Ministers are saying that £75m of the fund has ‘not been required.

"This is despite the fact that dangerous A roads across England, such as the A19, were denied funding. We are crying out for investment on our roads in the North East so I will continue to raise this. The campaign isn’t going anywhere.”