A £50 MILLION funding bid by councils across North Yorkshire which could lead to sections of the A64 being widened or dualled has today been announced.

North Yorkshire County Council and district authorities in Ryedale and Scarborough have worked as a consortium with City of York Council and the Highways Agency to apply to the Government's Local Growth Fund for the money, which would be paid over six years.

If it succeeds, it would be used to pay for improvements to the A64, such as widening or dualling some stretches of the road, and cut congestion. Hopgrove roundabout and other junctions on the east of York could also be in line for upgrades and better safety measures.

All schemes which receive funding will have to be completed by 2021, with the consortium saying further improvements - such as village bypasses between Malton and Scarborough - could be included in later bids.

The A64 funding application has been included in the draft Strategic Economic Plan for York, North and East Yorkshire. The councils expect to find out whether they have succeeded in July, but are competing against rival bids from across the country.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister David Cameron said he would "look carefully" at the case for improvements to the A64, which has been plagued by accidents over the years.

"While many people might have aspirations of a dual carriageway all the way to Scarborough, realistically there is not going to be enough Government funding to allow this in the foreseeable future," said Coun Gareth Dadd, the county council's executive member for highways.

“The Local Growth Fund gives us the opportunity to try to do something to improve this important North Yorkshire road, and we hope the Government will approve our bid.”

Coun James Alexander, leader of City of York Council, said a successful bid would cut delays and improve safety at one of the city's key gateways, saying: "We particularly welcome the opportunity to increase capacity at the Hopgrove roundabout and resolve safety concerns at a number of junctions east of York where accidents have occurred in recent years."

He said the bid tied in with the council's aims of upgrading the city's Outer Ring Road.

Ryedale District Council leader Linda Cowling said congestion and slow traffic had been a major issue in the area for years, saying: "This has a significant effect on our local economies and making stronger links with York.

"The Local Growth Fund, designed specifically to address these types of problem, has allowed our local councils to come together with the Highways Agency to try and make a start on much-needed improvements”.

Coun Derek Bastiman, Scarborough Borough Council's cabinet member for regeneration and strategic planning, said the coastal economy would see "major benefits" if journey times along the A64 were cut and this would encourage new businesses to the area.