A64 upgrade Government funding bid is ‘on a knife edge’, says minister

A bid to secure £300m of Government funding to dual the A64 route is ‘on a knife-edge’, a minister has revealed.
The proposal would dual the A64 from Hopgrove to Barton Le Willows.The proposal would dual the A64 from Hopgrove to Barton Le Willows.
The proposal would dual the A64 from Hopgrove to Barton Le Willows.

Thirsk and Malton MP and Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake told North Yorkshire councillors he was expecting a decision over a £300m proposal to upgrade the trunk road” in the coming weeks.

Weeks after an expected announcement in the Budget failed to materialise, Mr Hollinrake told local councillors it was by no means certain the Government would approve the bid to dual the A64 from Hopgrove to Barton Le Willows.

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He told a meeting of North Yorkshire Council’s Thirsk and Malton constituency committee the bid was “on a knife-edge”, but National Highways was now looking beyond factors such as population density.

He said: “The cost-benefit ratio of that is pretty low, but we are making a case to the Transport Minister, Transport Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer of the importance of that road. I think the cost-benefit ratio is so low because half the place it serves is sea.”

Mr Hollinrake said while the Government used to just look at “economic value”, such as the value of jobs that would be created, the current Government had put in “a social context” to where money was spent, taking into consideration priorities such as Levelling Up.

He said: “I think to get anything done in this world you have got to make a compelling case for something, a coalition of people supporting and then you have got to be really persistent.”

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However, councillors said they feared even if it was approved the upgrade would do little to resolve social and economic issues burdening businesses and residents in the area.

Filey councillor Sam Cross said the situation had become “desperate” in the town, due to increasing congestion on the A64. He added: “It is stopping businesses developing on the coast.”

Ampleforth and Amotherby councillor Steve Mason said some residents believed all the proposed scheme would do is shift traffic to Whitwell, a notorious traffic black spot, and the road needed to be dualled at least to Malton.

Mr Hollinrake responded saying the improvements would need to be undertaken “progressively” due to the high costs involved.

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He said dualling the road to Malton in the first phase was a “pipe dream” which would cost “somewhere north of £500m”.

He added: “It’s not to say we can never get to Malton with the A64. That’s not a pipe dream. To do it now… is a pipe dream.”