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Conservatives Promote JCB’s ‘Revolutionary’ Pothole Machine While Taking Millions of Pounds in Donations from the Company

Senior Conservatives have repeatedly promoted a pothole repair machine made by a company which has donated huge sums to the party and its MPs

Mel Stride, MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has his photo taken with a large JCB tractor parked in Downing Street for a farming and retail event in May. Photo: Imageplotter/Alamy Live News

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Conservative politicians have repeatedly promoted a pothole-repairing machine, after their party took millions of pounds in donations from the company that makes it.

Conservative Deputy Chair Jonathan Gullis told MPs in December about his local council’s purchase of the “JCB Pothole Pro”, which he described as “revolutionary”, claiming that it “fixes potholes twice as fast and at half the cost of other machinery”. He also repeated his endorsement on Facebook.

He later went on to register a £10,000 donation from the company.

Other Conservative politicians to endorse the product include the Transport Secretary Mark Harper, who took part in a photo opportunity with JCB and the Pothole Pro last October.

Harper went on to tell MPs in December that “I was lucky enough to visit JCB myself and see the Pothole Pro in action, as well as the innovative work it is doing, as a fantastic world leader in innovation, on some of its hydrogen engines for its mobile off-road machinery.”

He added that “I am sure that local councils will look carefully at the Pothole Pro and other technologies that can help us make the best use of that record investment in road improvements.”

Neither Harper or Gullis declared to MPs about the millions of pounds their national party has received in donations from the company.

Boris Johnson stands on JCB machine alongside JCB chairman Lord Bramford during his visit to the new JCB Factory in India in April 2022. Photo: Ben Stansall/ AP

According to the MPs Code of Conduct, members of the House of Commons “must always be open and frank in declaring any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its Committees, and in any communications with Ministers, Members, public officials or public office holders”.

Neither man had received a personal donation from JCB before making their comments.

The purchase of the machines by Conservative councils has caused controversy in some parts of the country, due to the party’s acceptance of more than £2 million in donations from JCB and its owner Lord Bamford over recent years.

Successive Conservative Prime Ministers, including Boris Johnson and David Cameron have posed on JCB products, while endorsing the company.

A JCB tractor was also posed outside 10 Downing Street just last month, as part of a rural business event hosted by Rishi Sunak.


Conservative Deputy Chair Jonathan Gullis Took £10,000 From JCB – Then Stayed Silent Over Company’s job Loss Announcement

The MP for Stoke-on-Trent North didn’t comment on potential job cuts at the digger giant but called an “urgent” meeting with the Business Secretary over the closure of Johnson Tiles amid claims his “silence was bought”

Questions Over Probity

Deputy Chairman Jonathan Gullis’ own endorsement of the Pothole Pro came before he declared the acceptance of a £10,000 personal donation from the company, which employs hundreds of people in his constituency.

As Byline Times revealed last week, Gullis accepted the donation just weeks before the company announced it would be closing its warehouse in Stoke on Trent.

Replying to a question about his apparent silence on the closure, Gullis insisted on Facebook that he had had “no discussion or communication from JCB prior to the announcement.”


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Another Conservative MP also promoted the ‘Pothole Pro’ after receiving a donation from JCB.

Last week Theo Clarke, who is standing for re-election as the MP for Stafford, posted a series of social media posts referring to JCB and its’ ‘Pothole Pro’ machine, after having previously registered a £5,000 donation from the company in 2020. She did not declare to her followers about her previous funding from the company.

There has been criticisms of the decision by some Conservative councils to purchase the Pothole Pro.

According to the Gloucestershire Live news website, Gloucestershire County Council approved a “last minute” amendment to its budget earlier this year in order to purchase a JCB Pothole Pro, worth an estimated £200,000.

Liberal Democrat Councillor David Willingham raised concerns that the purchase had not been “properly audited for probity reasons” and pointed to criticisms about the effectiveness and value for money of the machines.

Despite the high cost of the machines, the Pothole Pros do not actually fill potholes, but are merely used for preparing the holes to be filled by hand.

Jonathan Gullis and Theo Clarke were contacted for comment and did not respond. A spokesperson for Mark Harper said: “All Mark Harper’s donations have been declared properly and transparently. As neither Mark Harper nor the Forest of Dean Conservative Association have ever received donations from JCB, he has nothing to declare from them.”

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