Brackley-based campaigner, ‘Mr Pothole’, hopes a Parliamentary inquiry into the funding and governance of local roads in England will result in serious improvements.
Mark Morrell said he was ‘over the moon’ when he saw the Transport Select Committee’s national call for evidence on the condition of the country’s road network on Wednesday (August 1).
“The door is open and it never has been open before so it’s positive and it’s nice that many MPs are supporting this as if we can work across parties and accept things need to change, then we can come up with some good proposals,” he said.
Mr Morrell, who has become a national voice for road improvements as ‘Mr Pothole’, has been calling for an official inquiry for the past five years.
Alongside the Banbury Guardian, the current Brackley mayor has secured resurfacing and potholes to be filled across Banbury, as well as in his native south Northamptonshire.
The Transport Committee wants evidence on a range of issues to do with the state of England’s roads, including the costs of poor maintenance, whether changes are needed and how repairs are funded.
Mr Morrell believes big changes are needed, such as more cash for councils responsible for the upkeep, more transparency in highways spending and a colour-coding system to show the severity of defects.
The campaigner also wants to see a tax on all vehicles to cover road repairs, which he said would be cheaper than the ‘hundreds of pounds’ motorists have to pay to fix suspensions and wheels after hitting potholes.
“It is something I have been campaigning for for the last five years because we need a proper inquiry and the penny has finally dropped,” he said.
“I understand the feedback MPs have got on the doorstep from the elections in May was this issue is not going to go away as I’ve been warning for years so I see this as a success.”
Mr Morrell will be sending a thorough response to the inquiry and hopes the Parliamentary committee agrees to him giving evidence in person as a knowledgeable anti-pothole campaigner.
The Banbury Guardian has been calling for potholes in and around Banbury to be fixed all year – Oxfordshire County Council has approved an extra £10m for road repairs this year.
Transport Committee chairman Lilian Greenwood MP said potholes have ‘plagued’ the country, and a recent AA-Populus Driver Poll of more than 17,000 drivers found only 15 per cent said local roads are maintained to a high standard.
And according to Cycling UK, potholes have been a contributory factor in 22 deaths and 368 serious injuries to cyclists since 2007 – last week an elite cyclist suffered a punctured lung and broken rib after hitting a pothole near Oxhill.
Mr Greenwood said: “Local roads are the arteries of prosperous and vibrant towns and cities. They are critical to the movement of goods as well as our own journeys. However, many people will not have to travel further than their local shops to see an extreme state of disrepair.
“This plague of potholes represents a major headache for all of us. The consequences of a deteriorating local road network are significant – undermining local economic performance and resulting in direct costs to motorists, through damage to road vehicles. The safety of other road users, particularly cyclists, is compromised.
“Our inquiry aims to investigate the situation in England, including current funding constraints and potential alternative models that could offer a solution.
“We know that this is a high priority issue among the public and I hope our inquiry will help put the onus on the Government to address it sooner rather than later.”
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