‘Armageddon’: Brackley campaigner’s notice served on ‘National Pothole Day’

Mr Pothole, Mark Morrell, with potholes between Greatworth and Halse. NNL-180503-160407009
Mr Pothole, Mark Morrell, with potholes between Greatworth and Halse. NNL-180503-160407009

‘Pothole armageddon’ starts today, Thursday, as a Brackley campaigner challenges his county council over the state of the roads.

Brackley deputy mayor Mark Morrell – known as Mr Pothole – is landing Northamptonshire County Council with a legal challenge.

This pothole is in Kingsway, Banbury

This pothole is in Kingsway, Banbury

It comes today, National Pothole Day, which Mr Morrell has staged as part of his campaign.

He will serve two Section 56 (of the Highways Act 1980) citing the council’s failure to maintain two roads – the Halse to Greatworth road and the Welsh Lane route from Crowfield to the A43 roundabout.

“I have been warning about this pothole armageddon for five years,” said Mr Morrell.

“The council can defend the notice in the magistrates’ courts but if they don’t have a defence it gives them six months to take action.

No area is free from potholes. These are hazards are in Great Bourton

No area is free from potholes. These are hazards are in Great Bourton

“The Halse to Greatworth road is like a rally track. There are scores or even hundreds of potholes on it.”

Mr Morrell said there is no short term solution to the problem of Britain’s disintigrating roads.

But he says the finance could be found to repair them by scrapping HS2.

“The roads are like this because of decades of under-investment,” he said.

This pothole in Mewburn Road, Banbury goes down to the concrete

This pothole in Mewburn Road, Banbury goes down to the concrete

“After this winter the road repair bill is going to have gone up by £1bn meaning it would cost £13bn to bring the road surfaces to a reasonable standard.

“And it would take ten to 15 years to do it because most of the experienced road-makers are in their 50s now. They will need to train up new ones.

“It means a long-term investment programme. Paying for it by scrapping HS2 is the easy answer. At the last count the estimate for building it is £104bn.”

Mr Morrell said anyone can serve a Section 56 notice on a local authority.

A deep pothole at Banbury Cross

A deep pothole at Banbury Cross

“All I have to do is to produce evidence and people to say if the road concerned is in reasonable repair and I have plenty who will say that,” he said.

Mr Morrell was dubbed Mr Pothole after he took on the county council over potholes in Farthinghoe five years ago.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “This has been one of the most severe winters in recent years with three major snow events and about 100 gritting runs carried out so far.

“We are continuing to work to our policy, which determines the safety intervention levels.

“If a defect meets our intervention criteria then we are still undertaking repairs within timescales set out in our policy.”

Roads erupt again after snowfalls

Reader Peter Burwell of Upper Heyford said he thinks Britain’s roads are now worse than those in third world countries through neglect.

“We are faced with dodging potholes which can severely damage our vehicles and cause drivers to swerve – if they can be seen when covered in water.

“White lines are fast disappearing making it impossible to see where we should legally be positioned in the road and road signs which are so filthy or obliterated by overhanging foliage, it is impossible to see which direction we should be taking.

“Roadsides are littered with rubbish. What must visitors to our country think of us? I travel in northern France a lot and you see none of these issues at all. It really is deplorable to see nothing done. Where is our pride?”

Road mending teams were out in force again this week as road surfaces began to break up even more severely after the big freeze.

Banbury Guardian readers on Facebook listed their worst potholes and barely a country road or town street escaped a nomination.

Some cited costly damage to vehicle tyres from the concussion of driving into a pothole.

One man said he had seen no fewer than four motorists stop to change tyres in a single evening after driving over a particularly deep pothole in South Newington.

Some areas came in for repeated criticism including the Oxford Road - Bloxham Road junction, Bankside and Chatsworth Drive, Middleton Road and Ermont Road roundabout, Wykham Lane and Highlands.

Readers also pointed out large, single potholes at Banbury Cross, on Beaumont Road, Tadmarton Road at the B4035 junction and Hailey Avenue, Chipping Norton. One said a pothole in Claydon had not been repaired after 12 reports to the Fix My Street website.