THIRSK and Richmond's MPs have stepped up their campaign to secure safety improvements to the A19 in North Yorkshire.

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, and Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond, are continuing to press for junction improvements to the A19 dual carriageway between Thirsk and Teesside.

They recently held a virtual meeting with officials at Highways England (HE) to review progress on the programme of improvements designed to reduce the number of accidents caused by the many access junctions and gaps in the central reservation.

The MPs’ campaign has already secured the closure of one gap, at Stony Lane, near Osmotherley, and work is due to be complete on a new access for Mount Grace Priory.

This closes the reservation gap and introduces acceleration and deceleration lanes.

At the meeting, the MPs pressed HE to progress the work on up to 40 other junctions/accesses on the road which carries up to 32,000 vehicles a day.

HE is drawing up detailed proposals for each junction.

The potential safety improvements will range from further gap closures to better signing and road markings.

Any proposal for an individual junction will be subject to discussion with local residents, farms and businesses.

The MPs’ campaign for improvements to the road - which has three times more central reservation gaps than a typical dual carriageway - was prompted by the death of 83-year-old Mrs Sonia Rose, of Carlton Miniott, near Thirsk, who was killed at Stony Lane when a vehicle strayed across the gap and crashed head-on into her car.

After the inquest into Mrs Rose’s death, the coroner’s call for safety improvements was backed by the two MPs and led to a campaign “Close The Gap” by the Darlington & Stockton Times.

Mr Hollinrake said he and Mr Sunak would continue to keep up the pressure on highways chiefs to complete the works as soon as possible.

He said: “I am pleased that following our meeting that Highways England remain committed to the programme of works and allocating the funding to complete it.

“While this work will necessarily be done over a number of years, its completion will be a fitting memorial to Mrs Rose whose family have been so steadfast in their efforts to help us secure the improvements which will save lives in the future.”

Mr Sunak said: “I welcome the imminent completion of the works at Mount Grace Priory which will make visiting this tourist attraction much safer.

“The programme of improvements Highways England has committed to will make a long-term difference to this road which is a vital regional artery and yet has so many potentially dangerous access points.

“Due regard will be given to the needs of local residents and farms but what has been achieved at Stony Lane is an example of what can be done to improve safety while maintaining appropriate access.”