The 60-year-old former Mayor of Brackley in South Northamptonshire - whose real name is Mark Morell - was so fed up with the state of the country’s roads he started his own personal crusade to improve the condition of the highways in 2013.
Now he’s been behind the controls of JCB’s revolutionary pothole fixing machine the PotholePro – and says it’s just what the country has been waiting for. The brand new innovation from JCB fixes a pothole in just eight minutes - four times quicker than traditional methods and at half the cost.
A fleet of PotholePro machines has so far travelled more than 22,000 miles crisscrossing Great Britain on 80 in-depth demonstrations with contractors and local authorities. In just 100 days the machine has fixed more than 16,500 potholes – the equivalent of more than three football pitches. An average local authority fixes 10,000 potholes in a single year.
Mr Pothole got his chance to operate the machine at JCB’s HQ in Staffordshire.
He said: “It was great to see the JCB PotholePro up close today after hearing so much about it. This machine gives us a real shot here in the UK of getting on top of our pothole crisis, and I’m pleased to hear the positive response the team at JCB has had to its game-changing machine. Now that various councils across the UK have seen the difference the JCB PotholePro can make, I hope we’ll see more of them out on the roads soon.”
The machine’s development has been personally led by JCB Chairman Lord Bamford.
He said: “Potholes really are the scourge of our nation. Our country is quite rightly fixated on this dreadful problem and as a British manufacturer I am fixated on finding a solution.”
Councils around the country get a request to fix a pothole every 46 seconds, and nationwide more than £8.1 million was paid out in compensation to drivers last year for vehicle damage caused by potholes. A traditional pothole gang fixes around 10 potholes a day - the PotholePro can fix more than 50.
Paul Swallow, JCB PotholePro general manager, said: “It was great to welcome Mr Pothole himself to JCB HQ today to see just how effective our new JCB PotholePro is at fixing potholes and patches permanently.
“Potholes are a huge concern for councils all over the country and one of the issues with repairs at the moment is that in most cases they are only short-term fixes – and that’s where the JCB PotholePro differs. Just like when you have a filling, the dentist has to carefully remove all the decay so your tooth can be filled properly without recurrence of pain.
"It’s just the same with a pothole: it needs to be prepared properly before it is filled so the pothole doesn’t open up again within weeks. That’s exactly what the JCB PotholePro does; it cuts, crops and cleans the hole so a permanent repair can be carried out.
“The JCB PotholePro also eliminates the risk of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome among those who operate them among many other health and safety benefits.”
Tests with local authorities and contractors show the JCB PotholePro can complete a pothole repair in less than eight minutes – equivalent to up to 250 square metres per day and 700 potholes per month.
The PotholePro allows the contractor or local authority to cut the defect, crop the edges and clean the hole with one machine – delivering up to a 50 per cent cut in daily costs. It is equipped with a 600mm wide planer and integrated dust suppression system, enabling the operator to plane a full carriageway from the kerb, without repositioning. The machine also comes with a sweeper/bucket and hydraulic cropping tool, allowing a uniform hole to be prepared by the operator from the comfort of their cab.