“Potholes ahead. Remove dentures. Fasten bra straps.” 

So read a sign recently erected by a farmer in Stockleigh, Mid Devon.

Cornwall seems to be experiencing the same problems as Devon.

There are also widespread reports across the country of people planting flowers in potholes. – Owl

Who filled Cornwall’s ‘biggest pothole’? No one’s telling the council

A phantom pothole filler has struck in the town of Lostwithiel after becoming fed up that the “biggest pothole in Cornwall” had not been fixed, even though the council closed the road for more than a month.

Will Humphries www.thetimes.co.uk

Highway officials are now calling for anyone with information about the identity of the unknown repairer to contact them.

The main route between Lostwithiel and Bodmin was closed by the council at the beginning of last month after residents complained for months about a 40cm deep pothole, measuring 2.5m by 3.2m.

Last Sunday someone filled it with concrete and reopened the road. Cornish Highways has since closed it again and says the hole will not be fixed until next month at the earliest, because of a backlog of potholes.

Geoff Barrett, 73, a retired journalist who lives locally, spotted someone with a pick-up truck parked by the closed road on Sunday afternoon. Four hours later the road was open. “It did surprise me that someone from the council would be working on a bank holiday weekend,” he said. “I didn’t realise it was someone taking things into their own hands.”

Kay Bevan, 78, who lives near the pothole, said her neighbours appeared to know who is responsible “but everyone is feigning ignorance”.

“Because it’s a B road it’s not a high priority for the council, but it’s a major road for locals getting to Bodmin,” she said.

Colin Martin, the Liberal Democrat councillor for the town, said the pothole filler represented the “shared frustration” of drivers across the country with the state of the nation’s crumbling road network. “The filled-in pothole isn’t perfect but it’s still better than most of the roads that the council are supposed to be maintaining at the moment,” he said.

Rishi Sunak promised a clampdown on potholes at the launch of the Conservative local election campaign last month, and posed for photographs on a crumbling road in Darlington, Co Durham. The prime minister said new powers would help to ensure firms repair roads properly after carrying out works, through more fines and inspections.

Martin said Cornwall had a good record of road maintenance until the Conservatives won control of the council two years ago and cut spending.

“A road maintenance inspector told me the other day they would normally be finding 300 potholes a week but now they are finding 1,000 a week,” Martin said.

“Previously if I reported a pothole within 24 hours the green paint would be painted around it and it would be filled in by the next day. We are now at the stage where green paint appears within 24 hours but the pothole stays there for weeks on end.”

A manager wrote: “If information regarding who carried out the works becomes known in the community, I would be grateful if details could be shared. At the present time, we have a significant backlog of pothole defects across the network and our resource is allocated to this as a priority over other planned works. The work at Tanhouse Road will be scheduled when the situation eases.”

Connor Donnithorne, the Conservative council portfolio holder for transport, told cabinet this week that the council had received an additional £5 million from the government towards its “pothole fund”. This is added to £12 million spent on mending potholes and other road repairs in Cornwall each year.

A council spokesman said: “There is an ongoing issue with drainage at this site which has led to the deterioration of the road surface. These drainage issues have meant that any surface repairs during the winter have been temporary.

“As we are now moving into warmer and drier weather, Cormac [the maintenance company] can programme in the permanent drainage and surfacing repairs needed at this site.”

Residents across the country have been taking action to draw attention to their deteriorating roads. Villagers fed up with a “nightmare” pothole in Blythe Bridge, Staffordshire, recently added rubber ducks to the crater after it flooded in rainfall.

A farmer in Stockleigh English, Devon, erected a sign last month warning motorists: “Potholes ahead. Remove dentures. Fasten bra straps.” Carol Perryman said: “I keep reporting it at Devon Highways but nothing gets done.”

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