West Northamptonshire Council confirms the removal of Daventry Banksie’s pothole signs as ‘these are classed as fly posting’

WNC does not intend to take any action against the campaigner
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West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has responded to some of the questions asked by this newspaper about the recent work of the anonymous campaigner known locally as Daventry Banksie.

Daventry Banksie has been displaying hand-painted boards in and around Northamptonshire over the last three weeks, criticising WNC over the state of the roads in the county in an effort to pressure the council into taking action.

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The 26 signs she has placed so far were usually up for a few hours or days before being removed— presumably by the council.

West Northamptonshire Council’s (WNC) leader Cllr Jonathan Nunn.West Northamptonshire Council’s (WNC) leader Cllr Jonathan Nunn.
West Northamptonshire Council’s (WNC) leader Cllr Jonathan Nunn.

WNC has now just confirmed that they have been removing Daventry Banksie’s signs when questioned by this newspaper about the removal of the hand-painted boards.

A WNC spokesperson said: “Yes. As with any signs placed on public land without prior permission, these are classed as fly posting and will therefore be removed. Signs alongside highways can cause an obstruction to road users and pose road safety risks.

“We will remove any signs that are fly posted or pose an obstruction to highway users.”

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The mystery campaigner responsible for the series of pothole placards previously shared a list of demands and questions for WNC with this newspaper.

This publication made several attempts to receive a response from the council.

Councillor Jonathan Nunn, WNC leader, said: “Like all councils, we face a challenge with roads deteriorating in the cold and wet winter weather and requiring urgent action.

“We understand people’s frustration with the current condition of the roads, and we are prioritising completing the most essential work first as well as having a full plan of maintenance for the year and as the weather improves.”

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Daventry Banksie previously demanded explanations for the “non-sympathetic and rushed” road works and “not-so-damaged roads prioritised over very-damaged roads.”

The council has completed four significant road repair schemes in Daventry in the last year, according to Cllr Nunn.

More resurfacing work is scheduled to take place this month, but Cllr Nunn said that it “must be done in warmer weather otherwise, rain will cause the repairs to fail.”

“Maintaining our roads is a significant task. In the Daventry area alone, we’ve received nearly 4,000 reports in the past six months, attended around 500 emergencies, repaired 2,500 defects, and completed over 10,000 square metres of repairs to roads in the area.

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“Some of the repairs of most concern to residents in the Daventry area are on particular busy roundabouts, where we have repaired some, with one key roundabout scheduled for later this month as it requires a deeper repair that can only be properly repaired with the certainty of warmer spring weather,” said Cllr Nunn.

However, in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by this newspaper, WNC revealed that only around 550 potholes were reported between January 1, 2023, and January 1, 2024, in the former Daventry District area. WNC could not confirm if the report included all pothole reports submitted throughout the year.

The figure is seven times smaller than the number reported by Cllr Nunn for the last six months.

Cllr Nunn said: “It’s a challenge for all councils to balance the competing priorities for our limited budgets. We know the state of our roads matters to the public. We spend £26 million across our road and transport services annually, but the reality is that to properly resurface all our roads in West Northants would cost as much as £250 million when our total budget for a year is just £400 million.”

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Only £7,163,521 was spent on pothole repairs in the West Northamptonshire region between January 1, 2023, and January 1, 2024, according to WNC, who provided the information in response to this newspaper's recent FOI request.

Although WNC purchased Pothole Pro, a £184,000 road repair machine, late last year, it was recently revealed that the local authority may not be able to afford to run the machine at full power.

Cllr Nunn said: “We have implemented new technology to help, and the investment we have made in the new Pothole Pro machine is paying off both in terms of the volume and quality of repairs. Last year, we assumed that the machine would use nine tonnes of repair material a day, but in this coming year, we expect this to be 16 tonnes of material a day, significantly increasing the impact it has.

Daventry Banksie also demanded explanations for WNC's lack of funding for the road infrastructure.

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Cllr Nunn said: “With these challenges in mind, we are grateful for the news that £162 million has been allocated to WNC from central government over the next seven years for our wider road network as part of the HS2 phase two cancellation and are now awaiting more information on how and when this will be allocated.

“We can then consider this against our local road and transport priorities.”

A WNC spokesperson confirmed that they do not intend to take any action against Daventry Banksie.

“The anonymous campaigner is asking us to fix the roads, and we are working hard to do this,” said the WNC spokesperson.

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When this newspaper asked about the council’s decision to remain silent so far, the WNC spokesperson said: “We haven’t, the issue of potholes was debated widely at a recent Full Council meeting, and we always endeavour to respond to all residents who contact us about these issues.”

In an interview with this newspaper, Daventry Banksie said yesterday (Tuesday) that she will continue to place signs across the town until “we have had an apology from the council and they publish an action plan.”