A64: Now is the time for change

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The Scarborough News is backing calls for the government to tackle congestion and fatalities on the A64.

In the past 12 months, 10 people have died on the main link road between the town and York – with recently confirming the name of a couple who were killed in June.

As well as its obvious dangers the road’s almost constant congestion has been a bone of contention for residents, visitors and businesses for countless years.

Anyone who used the road last weekend will have found themselves indulging in one of Scarborough’s less pleasant past-times, sitting in a long queue on a hot day as the carriageway on the road moves from two lanes into one.

A meeting of MPs, businesses and local authorities under the umbrella of the new A64 Partnership Group backed plans to dual the road between the Hopgrove roundabout in York and the Jinnah restaurant near the Barton le Willows junction.

Speaking at the meeting at Sand Hutton, Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk, Malton and Filey, said it was vital for safety and the future of investment that the work was carried out.

He said: “There a vital economic and tourism reasons why the A64 needs investment but there have also been tragic events.

“Couples crossing the road have died in similar circumstances recently – bringing deaths on the A64 over the past 12 months to 10.”

The meeting of businesses and local authorities was organised by the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise.

The summit also heard that cyclists travelling to work at the science centre were also in constant danger on the route.

Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill MP said there are “desperate” queues at times on either side of the A64 and that “the single most important investment that can take place is the dual carriageway all the way to Malton” to deal with the three hotspots – Hopgrove, the stretch to Barton Hill and to Huttons Ambo.

He said: “There is already a £250 million proposal by Highways England to extend dualling of the A64 from the Hopgrove roundabout area by 2025 but the single most important thing we can achieve is dualling to and from Scarborough.

He added that the idea for a Rillington bypass could be presented on the basis that the quality of life needs to be improved for the villagers who face the A64 traffic flows daily.

Asked about the problem of creating a funnel of traffic nearer on the way into Scarborough after any proposed dual carriageway ends, he said that a relatively high percentage of vehicles leave the A64 at Malton for other routes.

Leading businessman Barry Dodd, chairman of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Enterprise Partnership, said that with plans to build 10,000 new homes in Scarborough over the next five years investment in the road could not wait. He said: “This is vital for the area. The east-west connection is dire, rail and road.

“If you live in West Yorkshire this is the leisure corridor in which you will have sat in a queue of vehicles on the A64.

“We need people to actively get behind this and push for dual carriageway to Malton.”

He called for businesses and the public to openly back the campaign, using social media as well as other channels.

Major companies such as Kingspan, McCain and Sirius Minerals have given full backing to the A64 Growth Partnership. Gareth Edmunds, of Scarborough-based Sirius Minerals, told The Scarborough News: “We need to rely on the A64 for staff, supplies and contractors and there is a need to make it a much better connection not just for us but for everyone and all businesses.”

This newspaper, and its readers have in past years directly lobbied the Department for Transport, taking a petition to London and meeting the Secretary of State, but demand for action is now getting broader.

On Tuesday police confirmed that Charles McLaughlin, 53, and Judith McLaughlin, 58, from Welburn, were the people killed on the A64 on June 23.

It is believed they were crossing the road from north to south at a bus stop near the junction to Welburn when the collision occurred with a white Vauxhall Mokka that was travelling towards Scarborough.

Their deaths came just a month after another couple, Dave Tinker and Julie Gough, were killed in almost identical circumstances.