Meet campaigner ‘Mr Pothole’

Mr Pothole, Mark Morrell
Mr Pothole, Mark Morrell

Mark Morrell - aka ‘Mr Pothole’ - is a campaigner fighting to get safer roads with removal of potholes across the UK.

He’s been busy this week promoting awareness of National Pothole Day on the crowd-speaking platform Thunderclap, which aims to amplify a message above the ordinary noise of social media networks.

Under the pseudonym of ‘Mr Pothole’ he’s used his knowledge of the legal requirements of highways authorities and road structures to tackle the problem in his home area of Brackley in Northamptonshire, where he serves as deputy mayor.

Mr Morrell says there is no short term solution to the problem of Britain’s disintegrating roads. But he says the finance could be found to repair them by scrapping HS2.

“There is no short term solution. The roads are like this because of decades of under-investment,” he said.

“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.

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.

“You could put 25 per cent of that into the road system and the other 75 per cent into the NHS and public services that people need. The roads are the government’s achilles heel now. It’s one thing they can’t hide from people.”

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

He now runs Facebook and Twitter pages, is frequently on radio and TV and is currently advising communities in several counties on how to force highways departments to repair roads.

He expressed sympathy for the county councils who he said don’t have the money to do anything. He criticised Highways England which he said has received £16bn but has failed to make adequate improvements.

He said Highways England was spending too much on developing ‘smart motorways’ and not enough on keeping road surfaces in good shape.

See also: How the county council prioritises potholes in West Sussex