A campaigner for road improvements has resorted to lying down in the largest pothole in Tavistock in protest at the ‘lack of progress in repairs’.

David Newcombe, who set up the Tavistock Pot Hole Club Facebook page, lay down in high-visibility clothing in the 15-ft long narrow hole on Plymouth Road, near Lidl, as part of his campaign to get potholes fixed quicker.

However, the pothole has not been designated officially as such, under Devon County Highways criteria, meaning possible longer than average delays until it is repaired.

David posted a dramatic photo of his protest on the page - attracting more than 11,000 views by fellow frustrated drivers by the extensive and increasing potholes and the claimed delay in repairs by Devon County Council.

He said: “This is an extreme example of the hundreds of potholes spreading all over the roads in the area. But not rare. There’s also a similar one on Spring Hill in Tavistock. The trouble is that the longer they are left, the wider and deeper they get. This one is forcing drivers to either swerve into the oncoming traffic or get very close to the pavement.

“It’s been reported to highways, but when they looked at it, they decided it didn’t meet their criteria for a pothole, and therefore, won’t be mended as a priority by the workforce that carry out the pothole programme of repairs. That’s plainly ridiculous. The highways criterion is that the edges must be straight. But pothole edges get rounded by the action of rounded car tyres. It’s also spreading due to continuing wear and tear to get nearer the pavement, leaving drivers nowhere to go, but through it, risking car damage.”

David Newcombe's lie-down protest to highlight the huge pothole on Tavistock's Plymouth Road.
David Newcombe's lie-down protest to highlight the huge pothole on Tavistock's Plymouth Road (Submitted)

David is cooperating with Sir Geoffrey Cox , MP for Torridge and West Devon, who is lobbying for an increase in road mending budgets from his Government. The MP is raising a petition to present to the House of Commons later in the summer and David is helping provide supporting evidence of road damage through reports on his Facebook page.

In a letter to David, Meg Booth, county council director of transport, said the pothole did not meet the definition of a ‘safety critical defect’ - when inspected by the highways safety officer (as set out by the highway safety policy). However, if the pothole did deteriorate further and it met the ‘investigatory criteria’ it would be picked up by the next monthly inspection.

She said to be eligible for the programme of safety repairs, potholes had to have vertical edges of 4cm and a width of 30cm - this met national best practice and was the same as many other authorities.

She added: “During extremely busy times, for example, following the extremely wet winter we are experiencing this year, we occasionally need to make the difficult decision to revert to identifying and repairing safety critical defects only. This ensures we are fulfilling our duty in keeping the network as safe as possible, while utilising the resource available to us. For context, since January of this year over 19,922 safety defect potholes were identified and passed for repair - the most in three years.”