A SENIOR council leader has criticised the Government's "apparent reluctance" to commit to improving the A64.

North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les told a full council meeting yesterday that the road – which is the responsibility of Highways England and one of the busiest routes in the region – should be regarded as a special case because of its strategic importance.

In March, Thirsk and Malton MP, Kevin Hollinrake, said he was seeking an urgent meeting with Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, over concerns the plans to dual the A64 between Hopgrove roundabout and Flaxton had been shelved.

A letter sent by Highways England to the MP said recent assessments had "identified the need for a number of bridges along the route", which had changed the expected cost of the plans.

Cllr Les said: "The A64 has been the subject of improvement considerations since 1913.

"There is speculation that Highways England are not committed to the next round of improvements, from the Hopgrove roundabout to the Jinnah restaurant, because additional bridge work makes the project more expensive. This is not acceptable."

Cllr Les said the scheme was vital for improving connectivity in North Yorkshire, he the council, MPs, district and borough councils and the A64 action group would "make the strongest possible case to the Department for Transport that the A64 is a special case because of its strategic role in supporting the economy of the coast".