Determined 'Daventry Banksie' demands answers from West Northamptonshire Council as pothole signs continue to disappear

"WNC, I want a divorce; it's not me, it’s you”

The signs criticising West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) over the state of the roads in the county generated plenty of discussion and debate online.

As the mystery campaigner responsible for the series of pothole placards has been placing more and more hand-painted boards beside roads, the signs have been disappearing at a faster rate.

The self-styled ‘Daventry Banksie’, who previously said she would stop if the council apologised for the state of the roads, is now demanding an explanation as it is believed that WNC has removed the signs he put up.

She said: “My signs are the voices and thoughts of the majority of residents within Daventry; a lot of my signs have been photoshopped and used in other parts of the UK.

“When they were all taken down, I was not surprised; however, I do think the council remaining silent and not showing any personality whatsoever continues to make them look stony-faced, untouchable, and uncaring.”

The very first sign was placed in Long Buckby Road around March 12. The words "Welcome to Pot Hole City, twinned with the Grand Canyon" were painted on a door by Daventry Banksie.

Daventry Banksie continued her work with "Pot Holy Island" on the roundabout near the Shell service station in Southbrook, "Route 66 Pot Holes" in the town centre across from the council office, "Welcome to Dodge City" in Long Buckby, and numerous other signs at locations such as the Heartlands Industrial Estate, the roundabout adjacent to the Icon Building, and near the Danetre Hospital.

All these signs were done within days of the first sign, and they were later taken down within a day or two of their appearance.

In a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by this newspaper, WNC revealed that more than 530 potholes were reported between January 1, 2023, and January 1, 2024, in the former Daventry District area, a figure that is five times higher than the number reported in the previous year. Of these, more than 300 were reported in the Daventry East area.

WNC could not confirm if the report included all reports submitted throughout the year.

The council repaired 195 footway defects and 4,377 carriageway defects in the 12 months in the former Daventry District area.

According to the report that was received, more than 50 potholes remain unresolved, either because WNC is "unable to fix" them or because investigations and repairs are still underway.

Reflecting on the data, Daventry Banksie said: “We know this is a national problem, but it seems far worse in Northamptonshire, and people passing through tend to voice this.

“There is a real threat of accidents happening, a threat to life, and costly car repairs when the whole population is under a cost of living crisis.”

Following the removal of the first round of signs, a placard appeared next to a road sign by the golf course in Daventry that said: "WNC, you can take our signs, but you can't take our freedom."

“This was then removed the next day, so they were obviously on high alert,” said Daventry Banksie.

Daventry Banksie followed up with "Get Well Kate" in Ashby Road, "Land of Pot Hole and Glory" on the roundabout adjacent to the Icon Building, "WNC, I'm Back" on the roundabout in Southbrook, and "Still Pot Hole City" and "Yet to Be Twinned With the Grand Canyon'' back in Long Buckby Road.

All signs were removed within hours of being set out.

A few days ago, she placed a sign that said: "WNC, I want a divorce; it's not me, it’s you. Unreasonable behaviour" on the roundabout adjacent to the Icon Building; this was removed two days ago, on March 26.

“It's exasperating. They have the resource to tour the town looking for my signs, but not the resource to fill in the potholes on the way,” said Daventry Banksie.

Daventry Banksie has placed 16 signs so far, and more are planned to appear across the town in the following days. In response to the signs' removal, residents are now volunteering their fence lines for future Daventry Banksie signs.

WNC was unable to provide the amount of money that was spent in the 12 months specified in this newspaper's FOI request on repairing potholes in the former Daventry District area. The council reported that the total cost came to £7,163,521 in the West Northamptonshire area.

Daventry Banksie said: “I truly feel if this isn't sorted and the Daventry constituents do not get some results (conscious there's not an endless pot of money) and answers, then I will be campaigning for an inquiry as to how priorities are managed within the council.

Daventry Banksie claims that WNC removed all the signs. She reported to have seen a WNC car parked for almost an hour in the area, with the driver still onboard.

“I originally asked for an apology, but this is untenable.

“My next move is Kier [the road construction company appointed by WNC for the highway maintenance contract]. I've got some questions for them, but in my usual way, I'll start with the signs,” said Daventry Banksie.

This newspaper received a list of demands and questions for WNC from Daventry Banksie, including a request for a published work plan for this year and a statement detailing the amount of money spent on repairing potholes in each ward.

She also demands explanations for the “non-sympathetic and rushed” road works, “not-so-damaged roads prioritised over very-damaged roads,” WNC's inability to pay for the running of the new pothole machine, and the lack of funding for the road infrastructure to support Daventry's new housing developments.

WNC has not yet responded to the questions asked by this newspaper.