Banburyshire campaigner to create DIY 'Fix this Pothole' website to force Government and councils to restore the roads system

Brackley campaigner Mark Morrell - known as Mr Pothole - is to set up a website offering a DIY legal route to force councils and Government to fix the worsening state of our roads.

By Roseanne Edwards
Monday, 28th March 2022, 5:01 pm
Updated Monday, 28th March 2022, 5:02 pm
Mark Morrell - Mr Pothole - who is going to set up a website enabling individuals to take legal action over the state of the roads
Mark Morrell - Mr Pothole - who is going to set up a website enabling individuals to take legal action over the state of the roads

Mr Morrell's action comes as the 2022 ALARM (Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance) survey of roads shows the backlog of road repairs in the South East has reached £3 billion.

The survey shows it would take 12 years to clear the maintenance backlog - if funding and resources were available.

Mr Morrell said: "It's dismal. I'm not surprised. It's increased by over £2bn in 12 months. The only way out of it is for central government to increase the funding. Our roads are failing fast and unless there is a full resurfacing programme it can only get worse."

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One unclassified road between Shutford and Epwell. 18 per cent of roads in England are in poor condition and have less than five years' life left

Mr Morrell is planning to launch a national Resurface our Road website which will include letter templates, instructions and step-by-step video guides to help ordinary people make formal complaints to their council about the state of specific roads.

"We will help them issue the council with a Section 56 legal notice that the road is out of repair. This is a statutory notice which the council has to obey or they could go to court.

"In this way everyone across the country could make the Government realise it has to start a national road resurfacing programme. Howard Cox of Fair Fuel is behind it and I'm talking to the Road Haulage Association and the Motorcycle Action Group about their support," said Mr Morrell.

"I am sick of government spin about how much they are investing in our roads. Very little is actually being spent on maintenance. This why we have seen such a massive increase in the roads maintenance backlog which will get worse year on year with an ageing carriageway network and ever increasing costs to maintain.

"Rishi Sunak needs to put in place £2 billion of long term fund for annual resurfacing in addition to current spending and also to give back £400m of axed funds to councils.

"They must maintain the £500m pothole fund and pay £50m in equipment grants for new technology such as the PotholePro - which enables cheap and faster pothole repairs - and Thermal Heat repair. Finally there needs to be a £20m training fund to improve the quality of repairs by roadworkers. A lot of the men aren't trained up to necessary standards.

"Anything else is just playing at it and not addressing the major issue of our failing roads. We are paying high taxes for completely unacceptable road conditions."

‌ALARM says the repairs backlog has been compounded by increased costs caused by rising inflation. The backlog has increased by more than half (52 per cent) on last year’s figure, almost a quarter of the total for England (excluding London) as a whole.

Rick Green, AIA Chair, said: “Local authority highway teams have a legal responsibility to keep our roads safe, but do not have the funds to do so in a cost-effective, proactive way. As a result, while they report some slight improvements in surface conditions, the overall structure of our roads continues to decline.

“Although surface repairs have a part to play in extending the life of local roads, short-term fixes, including filling potholes, is indicative of a network that is ‘on the edge’ and less efficient and sustainable when it comes to materials usage and whole-life carbon emissions.”

The findings show that in the South East:

* Local authorities would have needed an extra £217.6 million last year just to reach their own target road conditions, before even thinking about tackling the backlog of repairs

* 16 per cent of the network – nearly 4,700 miles – could need to be rebuilt in the next five years

* It would take 12 years to clear the carriageway maintenance backlog if adequate funding and resources were available

* Roads are only resurfaced on average once every 105 years

* One pothole is filled the equivalent of every two minutes.

Rick Green added: “The country’s ambitions to encourage active travel, plus cutting waste and carbon emissions, will not be achieved with a short-term approach that can’t deliver a first-rate local road network.

“The longer it takes for the funding to be put in place to tackle the backlog of repairs, the more it is going to cost to put it right in the future. What is needed in the South East is an additional £513.1 million a year over the next decade to allow highway teams to bring local roads up to a point from where they can be cost-effectively maintained.”

In January, Mr Morrell launched a challenge to find the worst pothole in Britain for National Pothole Day.