With the decision on the first dualling of the A64 for over forty years due in January, I recently arranged for Roads Minister, Baroness Vere, to travel down the A64 to see first-hand the dire need and to meet with the A64 Growth Partnership to make sure all local voices are being heard. Following this visit, the Partnership and local MP’s, Robert Goodwill and Julian Sturdy and I are making a further submission to the Secretary of State for Transport with the latest information to help make the compelling case for improving and upgrading this stretch of road. Transport Ministers will decide in January which projects will be included in the next Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) as part of the long-term programme to improve England’s motorways and major roads post-2020. The visit was very well-attended by representatives of the Partnership including local businesses, the NHS, local councils and MPs.
The Minister agreed that there is a compelling case for the A64 to be dualled. The success of the local economy depends heavily on the decision to include this road in RIS2, which I am expecting to be announced next month. This was one of my key priorities during the election and now that I am returned to Parliament I shall continue my campaign to improve this vital piece of transport infrastructure.
The visit gave me another opportunity to explain to the Minister my concerns over Highway’s England’s business case process and highlighted the value that tourism and visitors bring to the entire region encompassing Ryedale, the North Yorkshire Moors and the North Yorkshire coast including seaside towns such as Filey. Scarborough Borough Council’s Commercial Director, Richard Bradley, emphasised the impact that poor connectivity has on the coastal region. Over seven million people visit Scarborough annually and they reach their holiday destination by travelling along this one road. Mr Bradley said it was astounding that tourism counted as less for Highways England when looking at the transport business case.
Rt Hon Robert Goodwill said “The A64 upgrade at Hopgrove is the single most important infrastructure project for my constituents in Scarborough and Whitby – despite being 38 and 45 miles from Scarborough and Whitby respectively. The unreliability of journey times not only impacts on companies like McCain that rely on HGV deliveries but has serious consequences for those commuting to work and for tourists returning to places like Leeds on a Bank Holiday Monday. This is the single biggest block to the economic development out on the coast”.
Julian Sturdy MP said “Following on from the announcement in October that funding has been approved to dual the York Outer Ring road, it is now more important than ever to improve safety and ease congestion on the A64. Along with other North Yorkshire MPs I was pleased to welcome the Roads Minister to see these issues for herself. I hope that together we can progress the bid to secure this much needed investment”.
The road cuts directly through my constituency and acts as a vital artery for the York NHS Trust. The Programme Director for Capital Projects at York NHS Trust, James Hayward, informed the Roads Minister that all of the Trust’s sites are located along the A64 corridor over an area the same size as that within the M25. The demands of the NHS at these sites require lots of time-sensitive logistics, which are affected by delays along this road. He also explained that the poor transport network is causing recruitment issues impacting on staffing and the Trust’s ability to deliver quality healthcare services.
The Minister was told that delays also contribute to an increase in the cost of doing business. Gary Wenn of P&O logistics/McCains estimated over one year an average of 20 minutes delay per journey increased fuel and wage costs by £1.3 million. This leads to higher CO2 emissions and contributes to a knock-on effect experienced in local villages and towns as queues of vehicles drive past when trying to circumvent the gridlock. Traffic delays cause havoc on production lines; Mr Wenn stated that it is very difficult to meet just-in-time expectations along this route.
Highways England undertook a study in 2014, which noted that the A64 north of Hopgrove carried “on average, double the volume of traffic a single two-lane carriageway is designed to cater for.” The situation six years on has worsened when there are more licensed vehicles on our roads than ever before. That same study estimated that traffic will grow by up to 28 per cent by 2035. Accidents and breakdowns and the traffic jams they cause contribute to too high levels of pollution.