Short Story Avenue

Complaint Letter One By Amy Cameron


To Whom It May Concern,

I write to you to address my concerns about the distribution, quality and maintenance of benches in my local area. I have organised my complaint into helpful sections: please see below.

Firstly the distribution of the benches in the 2.1 mile stretch along the river between Hill Street Bridge and the cathedral. At last count there were 12 benches in this area which I am sure you will agree is a drastically insufficient number. Given the hard economic times we live in and not wanting to increase the current council tax payments, I think a simple reorganising of the benches would go a long way towards solving the issue.

Converting miles into yards, the walk in question amounts to 3696 yards therefore I would be expecting a bench every 308 yards or thereabouts. Unfortunately this just isn’t the case. Walking southwards, you encounter more than half of the benches within the first 1000 yards of the path and then have to wait a devasting 842 yards until you may rest your weary feet once more.

I am unsure whether this has been bad planning or an oversight however I would suggest that the benches are moved to allow for more equal distance between them. I attach a map in which I have identified possible locations which take into consideration both the distance in between and the view which will be gained from the spot. In a town that strives to be inclusive and non-discriminatory, I feel failed as a citizen who enjoys the riverside walk but gets quickly and easily tired.

Next I shall address the quality of the benches in the town in general. This varies drastically and is the reason for my grievance. I appreciate that the older style of wooden benches with cast iron legs are more expensive to acquire and maintain however they are vastly superior to any of the alternatives. The nature of this correspondence derives from a particularly terrible experience recently on a concrete bench with no back. I see several of these dotted around and although they are sturdy and seem to last a good while without needing painted, they are unsightly and, most importantly, extremely uncomfortable to sit on.

Another popular choice by the council but not by me are benches that may look wooden but on closer inspection are actually plastic. They have the grain of wood and even artificial knots and are a wood-like shade of brown – I trust you will know what I mean by my description. Although fairly comfortable to sit on, I find these particularly vulgar and believe they will do nothing for tourism.

There is a current trend to take a felled tree-trunk and create it into some sort of sculpture with a seat at its centre. Although I will agree these are fairly aesthetically pleasing; they don’t make for good seating and seem a lot of hassle. Memorial benches are another issue. I understand these are not supplied by the council but I am assuming you operate some sort of planning application for their installation and think perhaps your criteria for these benches need to be stricter.

I attach another map with a key to distinguish which bench is placed where. To prevent the current pieces from being wasted, I would suggest that some planning goes into their positioning. For example – the plastic ones would be well suited to areas where adolescents gather.

Finally, the maintenance of the benches. As mentioned above, I appreciate that some effort has been made to source benches which require less maintenance; even if these have been fairly unsuccessful. May I suggest that when council workers are tidying areas with benches that they are reminded to look under them. That often seems to be an area that is neglected and all sorts of unsavoury things can appear under public benches.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, a representative of the council, for everything that you do for our local community. Please don’t see this letter as a criticism and more as a concerned citizen wishing to offer some much needed advice.

Yours sincerely

V. Keenonbenches

About Amy Cameron

Amy is a teacher living in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband, son and tortoise. She writes poetry and prose which are observational and mildly funny, in her opinion. She tweets @AmyOCameron