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Government funding ‘snub’ an insult to crash victims, says editorial chief

An editorial chief has accused the government of insulting road crash victims in a funding “snub” setback for three sister dailies’ road safety campaign.

HTFP reported last month how the Hartlepool Mail, Shields Gazette and Sunderland Echo had joined forces to campaign for better road safety measure on the A19, which passes through their respective patches.

There have been 70 accidents in 12 months along the section of the road which links Hartlepool, Sunderland and South Shields, with all three newspapers covering “many tragedies” as a result.

More than 1,130 people have signed a petition as part of their ‘Safe A19′ campaign calling for a Department of Transport inquiry into the safety of the road.

A19 Sunderland

However, the Department for Transport has declined to allocate any of a £175m fund set up to improve safety on A roads across England.

Jesse Norman, Secretary of State for Transport, said the funding had been turned down because the A19 did not feature in a list of 50 A roads that carry the highest risk of death and serious injury to road users.

All three papers carried the news on their front page yesterday.

A19 Hartlepool

Johnston Press North East managing editor Gavin Foster said: “In the section of the A19 which cuts through our patch, 71 people were injured last year alone.

“How can the government possibly say this road is not dangerous enough to warrant cash to improve safety? This snub is an insult to every one of those people.

“More and more readers sign our campaign petition each day, with the backing of our MPs, demanding improvements to safety. And we will keep pushing the government until those improvements happen.”

A19 Shields

Mr Norman had been taken to task on the issue by Easington MP Grahame Morris, who asked how much of the cash would go to the A19.

Mr Norman responded: “The £175m Safer Roads Fund targets the 50 local authority ‘A’ road sections in England that carry the highest risk of death and serious injury to road users, based on analysis by the Road Safety Foundation.

“The sections of the A19 that are the responsibility of local highway authorities do not feature within this top 50 list and so are not eligible for the Safer Roads Fund.”