Street Letters – keeping your campaigning very local

Many of us put a considerable amount of time and effort into keeping in touch with our local community, in all kinds of ways. It all helps to keep us in touch with our residents. Street Letters hold a very special place in our campaigning toolkit – they are cheap, quick, easy, relevant and voters love them.

What is a Street Letter? Put simply it is a letter from a LD councillor or campaigner to residents in a street about something very, very local that impacts on their lives. Looking at it in a bit more detail, they are a really powerful campaigning tool that allows councillors and campaigners to demonstrate to local residents that they have their finger on the pulse of what is going on locally. It shows they care about residents in that small locality, and that they treat residents with respect by communicating directly with them. Street Letters contribute to councillors being seen as trusted sources of information, and as having real connection to localities.

Why use a Street Letter? Voters love them. They really do. The very local nature of Street Letters makes voters feel you are on their side, that you notice and care about issues that impact on them, and that you are taking action to keep them in touch.

How local is local? It depends very much on the context, and on the particular issue you want to talk to residents about. The name Street Letter gives a clue to just how local you can go.

Why use a Street Letter? It shows you are in touch with very local issues that impact on people’s lives, that you care, and that you are on their side. The reinforce all the good things we like to say about Liberal Democrats in a very practical and easily accessible way.

What sort of thing should you put into a Street Letter? All kinds of things, as long as they are local and of relevance to local people. Some examples are set out below.

  • Changes in bin pick up days – giving clear information about what colour bins will be collected on what day, particularly around Xmas and other bank holidays, and if council communication is poor.
  • Broken Street lights – You can use a series of Street Letters to let residents know that you have reported them, when work should be done by, thanking them for letting you know and asking they let you know of further problems, and once they’re repaired another to tell them so and reinforce your position as taking action to improve their lives.
  • Letting residents know about planning applications and giving information about how to make their views known and how to attend and speak at Committee.
  • Letting people know about upcoming works to trees in their street, or roadworks.

What do you need for an effective Street Letter? Letterhead – It can be very simple, or more complex. ALDC provides template letterheads (see the link below) and its possible to include a photo or not. Its really up to you, but the essential thing is that it includes your contact details and ideally something identifying you as a Liberal Democrat.

How many Street Letters should you do? As many as are in the street the issue relates to. The point is that the Street Letter is exactly that – a letter for a street, or a small number of streets. I would expect to be able to deliver a batch of Street Letters in perhaps 30 minutes, or at a stretch 45 minutes. Once you have letterhead you can put together a quick letter, print them out and deliver them all in a couple of hours.

You do not need to have a lot of money to do Street Letters. Some councillors put them into envelopes, some do not. Unless the area is extremely rural there should be no reason to pay for postage. The letters should be quite short, with clear information, and be relevant.

How do we know that voters love Steet Letters? Because they tell us. Its not uncommon for 150 Street Letters to result in 10 or so people getting back in touch – sometimes just to say thank you. On the doorstep residents will quite often mention them, and say how helpful they have been. People love them.

How do Street Letters fit into wider campaigning? Street letters can be used to reinforce a wider campaign message – if its made very, very locally and relevant to the particular street. The most important contribution they make to your wider campaigning is to reinforce the view that Liberal Democrats really do care about people, where they live and their lives.

If you have not yet tried out a Street Letter how about giving it a go. You may we pleasantly surprised by the response you get from voters.

Daniel Houghton says

Street letters are my favourite thing - we have had a real impact with them here in Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood ward in Croydon. Topics covered include:

Planning applications
Licensing applications
School Streets
Bus route survey
Requesting a bin
Air pollution
Waste collections

This is not an exhaustive list! Many of these street letters have included QR codes or links to an online survey, so that we can get an email address too. We always include an email address and our FREEPOST too.

We also deliver a street letter ahead of our monthly cllr advice surgery to two different streets in the ward, to keep informed and boost attendance.

Top tip - use coloured paper for your street letters! This makes them stand out (we use yellow, pink and green).

Cllr Trevor Young says

Do you any examples of good street letters that you could share.

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