Andy Preston, Teesside businessman and philanthropist, is calling on wannabe MPs in the Tees Valley to put political differences aside and lobby to end unacceptable delays on the A1 upgrade.

The current roadworks, intended to upgrade the dual carriageway to a three lane motorway between Leeming and Barton were scheduled to be completed in March 2017. However completion is now not expected until the end of the year – a delay which in Mr Preston’s view is one that Tees Valley businesses can ill afford.

He said: ‘These delays are costing this area money. Increased journey times and detours mean both residents and business people who depend on the A1 are paying a heavy price.’

A 50mph speed limit is currently in force over a twelve mile stretch of the road, causing longer journey times and tailbacks. Almost 70,000 vehicles use the route each day with speed limits adding at least eight minutes to a return journey, meaning an estimated 32,200 hours lost every week.

Mr Preston, whose most recent venture in the area is the Middlesbrough charity restaurant Fork in the Road, says, “I drive this route almost every day so I know from personal experience how frustrating it can be. It’s got so bad that some days I just can’t face the journey or have to cancel meetings because I can’t get there on time. “

But he sees a solution.

“The snap general election means we are about to elect seven MPs in the Tees Valley. I’m asking all candidates to lobby the Government’s transport ministers to bring forward proposals to put a two mile restriction on the 50mph roadworks.”

This would mean that only those parts of the motorway where men are actually working would be speed limited, leaving the completed sections delay free.

“Local MPs have got to fight for local issues. To date, I’ve not heard any candidates mention this huge local issue. Let’s see which of them care enough to make a fuss about this.”

Delays affect the journey times of motorists travelling to and from parts of the Tees Valley to London and the South East, the Midlands, The Leeds City region and the Northern parts of the north east..