Local councils often have to balance competing priorities in their bid to give residents the best service. While street resurfacing is often on the agenda, tough decisions on which jobs get precedence often have to be made. Even though local councils have a legal obligation to maintain roads, according to Consumer group Which?, you may need to write to them before they take action.
You probably won’t be alone in thinking the neighbourhood streets need resurfacing. The local council may be more amenable to your request if you send your letter as a group of residents who share a joint concern. Hold a meeting with neighbours to discuss the issue. Ask fellow residents for their experiences using the streets with the aim of including some in your letter. Take the lead on drafting the letter then let neighbours comment and suggest changes.
Explain the situation
Describe the problem accurately rather than being tempted to exaggerate. If the streets are as bad as you think they are, there is no need for hyperbole. Estimate or count the number of potholes and indicate the width and depth of the largest ones. Explain how badly the existing surface has worn through. Mention cracks, bumps, ruts, stress marks and fractures, if present. Refer to the condition of grates, edgings, road markings and guttering, if relevant.
Spell out the risks
If children have been injured while crossing the street, by losing their footing on the loose surface, mention this is your letter. If wheelchair users are inclined not to use the streets because of the bumpy ground, this is something to include in your letter. If vehicles which use the streets are dangerously throwing up aggregate, such as gravel or crushed rock, be sure to refer to this. According to Plymouth City Council, the safety of road users and the volume of complaints are key criteria when planning road maintenance schemes.
State your aims
Clearly specify what you are trying to achieve with your letter, identifying the streets and other areas you believe need resurfacing. Indicate your awareness that other similar streets nearby have been resurfaced, if this is so, in your bid to build the case for getting your local streets improved. Invite the council to send its Highways Maintenance Officer to come and see the problem and meet with yourself and other concerned residents.
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