James Walker: Don’t suffer in silence – complain to the council

What’s the most annoying thing in your local neighbourhood? Is it the potholes in the road? People who don’t clean up after their dogs or drop litter? Or that noisy neighbour from hell?

Bins not being emptied are a frequent cause for complaint.

Here are the top ten most complained about council services in the UK from Resolver’s users:

◆ The bins not being emptied

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◆ Tree surgery

◆ Messy/untidy neighbours

◆ Footpaths/roads poorly maintained

◆ Litter

◆ Fly tipping

◆ Footpaths that are unsafe

◆ Dangerous tree, park, playground, etc.

◆ Complaints about council workers

◆ Street cleaning

Here’s a few tips to help you make a complaint – or pass on comments – to your local council.

Every council in the UK has its own approach to handling complaints. From centralised customer relations teams to “by the department” processes. You can get around this by using Resolver (we filter your complaint to the right people) but you can also get a feel for who’s best to speak to by doing a quick search online. Your council will have a list of “local services” on the website. If you feel like passing on a comment, then get in touch through the department – they can direct you to the right person.

Trading Standards officers are based at your local council. So if you’ve got a problem with a business – no matter where it’s based – you can speak to your local Trading Standards officer about it. If you’ve got a problem with an unhygienic restaurant or food vendor, this also goes through the local food safety team at the council. The Food Standards Agency has a new website to help you report this kind of problem.

From fly-tipping and dog fouling to potholes and parking tickets, do a service for your community by gathering a bit of evidence. It helps to get the neighbours on board too - the more complaints, the more likely change will happen. Turn detective and photograph things like the results of fly-tipping – note down the date and time and keep a log of any persistent problems you encounter. But please be careful. Don’t take any risks or photograph people with your camera up their nose. Safety first. With noise problems, your council can advise you on how they will monitor the situation so speak to them about your options.

Potholes cost local councils a fortune so if you spot them, photo them and report them. Ever wonder why potholes have a line sprayed around them? Well, the council have to make a “reasonable” effort to sort out the problem. This means that under section 58 of the Highways Act they try to get out of paying compensation by doing this – which I think is a load of old rubbish by the way. If the pothole is marked like this but no repairs happen, report it!

Community campaigning is the way to go for key issues like bin collections (the Government are reversing monthly only collections for example after huge pressure). If you’re losing your local library, the park is poorly lit or dangerous or the paths and trees aren’t being looked after, make a complaint – every single one counts. But work together with your neighbours to make a bigger, quicker impact. There’s nothing like a community acting in harmony to force change for the better.

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk