Some of the worst potholes in Banbury should be fixed soon after Mr Pothole showed a senior county councillor the dire state of the town’s roads.
Mark Morrell gave Oxfordshire County Council cabinet member Yvonne Constance a tour of the four worst road surfaces in the town, as suggested by Banbury Guardian readers, on Wednesday (May 30).
Both said the meeting was productive as one pothole was temporarily fixed within 24 hours and full resurfacing is arranged for the roundabout on Ermont Way and the junction of the A361 Bloxham Road and Oxford Road.
Cllr Constance, whose portfolio is environment and economy, also pledged to lobby utilities companies which need to address road surfaces near their pipes on Highlands and Bankside.
Mr Morrell, who is from Brackley, said: “It was great to meet Cllr Constance, it shows the council is taking a much more proactive approach which was refreshing.
“She was quite candid and she was pushing her officers for answers and explanations.
“She is also arguing for extra money and the big issue is getting extra funding from the government as they are trying to do a job in a difficult and challenging position but they do have issues so I’m hoping I can be a constructive helper.”
The roads most complained about by Banbury Guardian readers were the Ermont Road roundabout by the Esso garage, Bloxham Road, Highlands and Bankside.
Mr Morrell made formal complaints to the county council about the four roads after visiting in April, having had success in getting Northamptonshire County Council to fix potholes.
The meeting with Cllr Constance last week showed Mr Morrell that Oxfordshire council is willing to sort out the roads and her influence has borne results quicker than any legal action he could have taken.
The roundabout where Ermont Way meets Middleton Road is scheduled for resurfacing in September with the end of Bloxham Road due for the same in October, following remedial action last week.
While on Highlands and Bankside, utility companies are being blamed for the state of parts of the roads so they will be chased up to fix them.
The county councillor said: “We had a very positive meeting with Mr Morrell in Banbury which was very productive.
“I completely understand the frustrations people have with potholes in the roads and why Mr Morrell is so keen on championing the issue.
“It was good to be able to discuss the very real challenges that we face with funding for road repairs and I hope Mr Pothole will support us in our calls for greater funding for local authorities to make a real difference to road conditions.
“I want to encourage people to continue to report problems that they come across to us via Fix My Street as this helps us get repairs onto our schedules and build up a true picture of the state of the road network which is useful when we make a case for more funding.”
Mr Morrell said he was pleased Cllr Constance was not defensive and willing to take on board his concerns, as well as being supportive of his campaigning.
“Just by making a formal complaint, we’re getting some success for people in Banbury but we’ve still got a lot of problems as they have a massive backlog,” he said.
“The readers have flagged it up to the Banbury Guardian on social media, we had around 350 interactions which was really good and two locations are going to be completely resurfaced, so we must be pleased.”
The country’s leading expert on potholes is hopeful the government has turned a corner in terms of finding the money to allow councils to improve their roads, as he believes this is the crux of the issue.
“Pothole stories tend to quieten down at this time of year but they haven’t this year as the roads were at a tipping point and the bad weather had shown how bad the roads are,” he said. “If nothing is done about them then in the future if we get a month of bad weather, we’d see roads having speed restrictions or warning signs, even full closures because the potholes will be even worse until the government faces up to it and gives councils more money.
“I saw a chink in the armour when the Witney MP Robert Courts raised the issue of local roads’ poor conditions in Parliament and the transport minister said they will be looking at their strategy for rural roads in the coming months.
“That’s the first change in tune I’ve heard from the government as before they would go on about how much money they are spending but it’s not enough.
“Now they are saying they will review their policy and I think the pin is finally dropping – the proof will be in the November budget though.”