Hopes of upgrading the A69 and improving links between Carlisle and Newcastle appear to have been boosted by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

Northumberland county councillors have met with the minister,

And they said Mr Grayling spoke of his desire to dual the major road from the Haltwhistle area towards Carlisle.

The news followed the decision by Highways England to stall plans for improvement at Styford Roundabout on the road, a scheme which the county council was largely against.

Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for environment and local services at Northumberland County Council, said: “Mr Grayling made a very strong commitment to improving the A69 and he understood how important the road was. Working with Guy Opperman, we are confident we will make progress with it.

“The dualling of the A1 is always talked about, but the A69 has risen in prominence. With plans progressing with Borderlands and the North of Tyne Combined Authority, we need to look at road improvements from east to west and not just north to south.”

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said afterwards: “Transpennine transport connections are of vital importance to the economic development of the north and we’re looking at them closely as part of the £13bn we’re investing in the region in the five years to 2020.

“Work is under way on two major junction improvements on the A69 and we’re aware of the strategic importance of this route. It would be inappropriate to comment further while the study is ongoing.”

Hopes over the A69 come just days after the Government announced a £102m package to support the construction of a £112m southern relief road for Carlisle.