HIGHWAYS England has reiterated that the £30m earmarked to improve two roundabouts on the A69 could not be spent elsewhere on the busy road.

Responding to a 1,500-signature petition started by Northumberland County Councillor for Hexham West, Derek Kennedy, demanding work was halted in favour of improvements further west on the A69, the road agency this week clarified that the allocated money was ring-fenced for work on the roundabouts at Styford, in Corbridge, and Bridge End, in Hexham.

In a letter addressed to Northumberland County Council, which was referred to at Monday’s meeting of Hexham Town Council, project manger for Highways England, Russell Mclean, said: “These schemes on the A69 have important safety and congestion relief benefits which the public and businesses will benefit from following completion.

“In comparison to Hexham West and Acomb junctions, Bridge End has a higher serious accident record in the last five years, therefore, it would be ranked highest on the route to improve first.

“It is also worth noting that the money allocated for this scheme is ring-fenced and cannot be spent elsewhere. Should the Bridge End investment not be progressed, the money will go back to the Treasury.

“Therefore, we wish to invest the money now as, in the future, cost certainties and availability of funds cannot be guaranteed.”

The road agency also insisted work on the roundabouts would pave the way for dualling of the road between Hexham and Carlisle in years to come.

It also vowed to keep disruption to Hexham to a minimum during the roadworks.

A further petition requesting Highways England made the A69 safer was started by residents to the west of Hexham on Tuesday following four accidents on the road in the space of just over a week.

The petition, which attracted 200 signatures overnight, asked Highways England to consider how the 38-mile stretch of single lane carriageway between Hexham and Carlisle could be made safer for both motorists and nearby residents.

It demanded an official review of the safety of the the road and that serious consideration was given into dualling parts, if not all, of that stretch of the road.

In addition, the petition asked for an ongoing review of safety measures implemented and the success of such measures, and for regular public consultation from the road agency.