Scarborough’s MP has hit back at critics who have slammed the politician for failing to secure funding for vital improvements on the A64 despite his role as Transport Minister.
Campaigners have expressed their disappointment that the route has been left out of £15 billion plans to upgrade the country’s road infrastructure - with cash instead being ring-fenced for the Hopgrove Roundabout, near York.
However Robert Goodwill said the Government’s announcement on Monday had been “completely misunderstood” and claimed the traffic blackspot was actually in line for up to £250 million of improvements.
He claimed those who had criticised the scheme, including members of Scarborough Council, were “just plain wrong” and, referring to his position at Whitehall, said the authority “shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth”.
He said: “When I spoke to the leader, Tom Fox, yesterday, no one seemed to be aware of the actual budget that has been designated. It’s more than just a few improvements to a roundabout. It’s a substantial investment that will make a big difference to the A64. We have got to start at the roundabout as that’s the pinch point.”
Mr Goodwill said the £9 million of improvements, which were made to the roundabout just five years ago, have not solved the congestion problem and a flyover needed to be built to allow traffic to “run through the junction”.
He said work would then eventually be able to continue along the route towards Scarborough.
“By calling it the Hopgrove Roundabout in the announcement, I think people are getting the wrong end of the stick. It should be called the Hopgrove section,” he said.
“I now need to get together with the relevant local authorities and make sure we can take the work as far as possible down the A64.”
His comments come after Scarborough Council released a statement earlier this week, claiming an “enormous amount of work” undertaken by local authorities to improve the route had been ignored.
Cllr Derek Bastiman, deputy leader and cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We feel extremely disappointed that yet again, this Government, our MPs and ministers have failed to realise the important position of our coastal towns as economic growth generators for the UK.
“We have been asking for upgrades to the A64 for over 30 years. Everyone in the borough of Scarborough has been patient. However the time has now come where we must see investment in both road and rail infrastructure if we are to take the coast forward for future generations.”
Cllr Godfrey Allanson, a former cabinet member for transport, added: “I don’t know what else we can do. We have been campaigning for years and we are just forgotten. It’s just so frustrating.”
Ian McInnes, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Scarborough, said the MP had “failed the people of Scarborough”.
“People I have spoken to this week are understandably angry at Goodwill. The Transport Minister who has failed to deliver for them on any changes on transport,” he said.
John Senior, chairman of the South Bay Traders Association, said: “The A64 is the lifeblood of our economy here in Scarborough and it is a massive blow.”