An anti-pothole campaigner with an artistic bent is trying to force his local council to take action to fill them in – by paining penises around them.
He says his artwork, which first appeared in Ramsbottom, is yielding results with the holes filled in quickly, but Bury council say cleaning his graffiti is costing money that could be used to repair roads.
Going by the name Wanksy, his Facebook page, which has around 1,000 ‘likes’ has images of his work, which is done in non-permanent paint.
In the ‘about’ section of the page, he describes himself as “taking direct action by using art to highlight the dangerous potholes that damage our vehicles and harm cyclists on a daily basis.”
He told the Manchester Evening News: “The roads of Manchester are in an appalling state, especially around Bury. I have cyclist friends who have been hospitalised.
“They damage vehicles. Sometimes it’s hard to know which pothole caused the damage because there are so many. When I’ve finished in Ramsbottom, I’ll move on to the rest of Manchester.”
He went on: “I wanted to attract attention to the pothole and make it memorable. Nothing seemed to do this better than a giant comedy phallus. It’s also speedy, I don’t want to be in the road for a long time.
“It seems to have become my signature. I just want to make people smile and draw attention to the problem. It seems to be working, judging from the Facebook fan page.”
He says that typically potholes, some of them there for a year, are filled within between 48 hours and a week of his contribution.
“Some still remain, it’s not a 100 per cent success rate, but it works. I’m inspired by the alternative style displayed by artists such as Grayson Perry and of course by graffiti artists like Hazer and street artists especially Banksy.
“It has a message that people get, but also has a bit of comedy value. Hopefully mine does too.
“However, unlike these artists I want my work to be destroyed, I like it when it gets dug up and replaced with fresh tarmac.”
However, a spokesman for the local council described the graffiti as “obscene” and said that removing it was diverting resources from road repairs.
He said: “The actions of this individual are not only stupid but incredibly insulting to local residents.
“Has this person, for just one second, considered how families with young children must feel when they are confronted with these obscene symbols as they walk to school? Not only is this vandalism, but it’s also counter-productive.
“Every penny that we have to spend cleaning off this graffiti is a penny less that we have to spend on actually repairing the potholes!”
The spokesman, who urged anyone catching the street artist in the act to contact police, went on: “People are entitled to express their grievances to the council, but offending the public and wasting their council tax is not the way to resolve the situation.
“Painting obscenities around potholes will not get them repaired any quicker, but simply waste valuable time and resources.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.