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They’ve driven him potty! Teenager, 19, stages bizarre pothole protest by ‘going fishing’ in the craters with a photo of his local MP taped over his face – after previously turning road into a crazy golf course


A teenager has staged a bizarre pothole protest by ‘going fishing’ in craters with a photo of his local MP taped over his face.

Ben Thornbury, 19, who previously turned a Malmesbury road in Wiltshire into a crazy golf course, came up with the idea after seeing a fishing meme on social media.

To pull off his latest publicity stunt, Ben ordered a road and a chair off Amazon in the hopes that he can ‘bait’ his local council into repairing the roads.

He put on the mask of local MP James Gray with the aim of getting his help on the matter. 

Ben said: ‘It seems like a plague across the town at the moment and it got much worse due to the winter weather.

Ben Thornbury, 19, decided to 'go fishing' in an attempt to get his local council to repair the potholes in the town

Ben Thornbury, 19, decided to ‘go fishing’ in an attempt to get his local council to repair the potholes in the town

Ben started a community group to keep Malmesbury tidy when he was just 13

Ben started a community group to keep Malmesbury tidy when he was just 13

Ben put on a mask of local MP James Gray in an effort to get him to help fix the town's pothole problem

Ben put on a mask of local MP James Gray in an effort to get him to help fix the town’s pothole problem

Last year, Ben altered a roadworks ahead sign as part of his publicity stunt to raise awareness of the potholes

Last year, Ben altered a roadworks ahead sign as part of his publicity stunt to raise awareness of the potholes

‘So many people have reacted in a positive way and told me thanks for raising awareness. I’ve had people honking their horns at me in cars going past to say show support.

‘Lots of residents I’ve been speaking to say, when the council do fill them in, they just disintegrates and it keeps recurring.

‘One of the potholes we went to last week is next to a narrow pavement and fills up with water. School kids go to school with wet trousers when cars go past and splash them.

‘If the potholes wee filed in this wouldn’t happen.’

Ben got the idea after seeing a fishing meme on social media.

And he said: ‘I thought I’d do it in real life. Straight away I ordered the stuff off of Amazon, including a fishing rod.’

It is not the first time Ben has resorted to such unconventional protesting methods.

Last year he created a crazy golf course out of the town’s potholes – with more than 20 residents turning up to have a go.

Ben also runs a community group to keep his town tidy, which he started when he was only 13.

Cllr Caroline Thomas, cabinet member for transport at Wiltshire Council, said: ‘We appreciate the concern around the number of potholes in Wiltshire and we are repairing roads as quickly as we can.

‘Abbey Row is included in our programme of works, and repairs will take place this week.

‘Unfortunately, we’ve seen an increase in potholes across the country due to factors such as recent extreme temperature variations. We encourage people to report any road defects to us using the MyWilts app so that we can programme works on a priority basis, as per our Highways Inspection Manual.

‘We have received an extra £3.6m for the repair of potholes from government in 2024/25, plus £5.2m committed over the next two years from the Department for Transport’s recently announced Road Resurfacing Fund, following the cancellation of HS2. 

‘This funding is in addition to the £20.7m the council receives each year from the Government’s Highways Maintenance fund to manage the road network in Wiltshire.

Ben Thornbury playing crazy golf on his mocked up course last year

Ben Thornbury playing crazy golf on his mocked up course last year

Ben enjoys spending his free time volunteering for projects in his local area, taking on tasks like cleaning the streets and trimming overgrown hedges

Ben enjoys spending his free time volunteering for projects in his local area, taking on tasks like cleaning the streets and trimming overgrown hedges

Locals even joined in on his crazy golf game last year

Locals even joined in on his crazy golf game last year

More than 20 residents turned up to play on Ben's crazy golf course

More than 20 residents turned up to play on Ben’s crazy golf course

‘We have also allocated an extra £10m over the next two years for a road resurfacing programme that will help to prevent potholes and other highways defects across all areas of the county. The investment will also fund more small, local repairs to verges on rural roads.

‘While other councils around the country are cutting budgets, our robust financial position means we can invest much more than the government funding allows into the things we know are really important to people – filling potholes, resurfacing roads and emptying gullies to help prevent road flooding.

‘This is all part of our Business Plan commitment to have vibrant, well-connected communities and to invest in our highways network.

‘The changes won’t happen overnight but, over the coming months, people in all areas of the county will see more resurfacing work, and more potholes filled as this multi-million pound investment is implemented.’

James Gray MP said: ‘I share constituents concerns about potholes in Malmesbury which I regularly bring to the attention of Wiltshire Council who are responsible for roads in our county.

‘Last year we finally saw Malmesbury High Street resurfaced but there is more to do.

‘The Government are giving Wiltshire Council a minimum of nearly £82 million in additional funding for roads over the next decade and I will continue to push The Department for Transport for more.

‘Anyone with a concern about a pothole is welcome to bring it to the attention of my office who will flag them with Wiltshire Council.’

His office added that Wiltshire Council have announced the resurfacing of the road where Ben launched the stunt – which they said would ‘take place shortly.’

MailOnline has contacted Wiltshire Council for comment. 



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