'What are you going to do about the potholes?' - Preston resident's demand in hustings

A recent example of 'blobbing' in Preston
-Credit: (Image: John Potter)

The politicians who want to be Preston’s next MP have been challenged by a member of the public about how they would deal with the state of the city’s roads. During an election hustings debate, a motorist asked the candidates – to ripples of applause and murmurs of agreement from the rest of the audience – “What are you going to do about the potholes? And I mean, seriously [do].”

She cited Black Bull Lane in Fulwood as a particularly plagued road and said she had been “struggling” to negotiate the potholes along the route only this week. Labour candidate Sir Mark Hendrick – the city’s MP for the last 24 years – said his party would put more money into the local authorities responsible for highways, which, in Preston’s case, is Lancashire County Council.

“I would list [potholes] along with a long list of other things that local government [has] really got to get to grips with, because it’s really damaging – not just [to] people’s cars, but people’s feeling of worth in the way that the city is deteriorating around us,” Sir Mark said.


Trevor Hart, for the Conservatives, said the Tory government had pledged “billions” nationwide to tackle the problem, but added; “We have got to make sure [the county council] actually just does the job that it’s supposed to do.”

That was not happening, according to two other candidates, including the Liberal Democrat Neil Darby.

“Slapping a bit of bitumen on top and hoping for the best is not going to deal with it – because the next time it rains, the next time you get a frost, it comes back up again – and it pulls up more of the surface of the road underneath,” Mr. Darby said.

Alliance for Democracy and Freedom candidate David Brooks agreed. “We’ve just been chucking tarmac in holes, which is not fixing a pothole. They should have a designated team and quality checkers checking the potholes afterwards,” he added.

Michael Lavelette, standing as an independent, said the current condition of the road network was “a result [of] 14 years of severe cuts to services”.

“Local government is on its knees – that’s 14 years of Tory legacy. Potholes are metaphors for the degradation of all other services,” Mr. Lavalette said.

Meanwhile, Rejoin EU party candidate Joseph O’Meachair drew a connection between bumpy roads and Brexit.

“We all assume it’s 14 years of Tory mismanagement. But if you look at the economy, it has crashed – most particularly – since Brexit. And until we address that core basic issue, all other things are going to be secondary,” he warned.

As the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed in February, Lancashire County Council suggsted that there could be as many as 105,000 defects on the region’s roads by next year at the rate they were then appearing following a particularly wet winter. Since then, the authority has bolstered its pothole-filling budget by an extra £4m.


All 10 candidates standing for election in the Preston constituency were invited to the hustings event, staged by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Lancashire Post, Lancashire Lead and Blog Preston. Six of those on the ballot took part in the event.

The full list of candidates seeking election in Preston on 4th July is:

YOUSUF BHAILOK (Independent)DAVID BROOKS (Alliance for Democracy and Freedom)

NEIL DARBY (Liberal Democrats)


TREVOR HART (Conservative Party)

SIR MARK HENDRICK (Labour and Co-Operative Party)