In short, Yes. The Local Authority may have breached a statutory duty to keep the road in good repair and be negligent in their failing. To prove this you will need to show that the grating caused a hazard to you and other motorists and that they knew or should have known of the state of the grating. This is where the local contacts you have gained should come in handy, as they are likely to want to help in order to sort out the problems for their own benefit. You need to be aware that the Local Authority may raise the defence that they inspect the road as and when necessary according to their legal duties. If they can show a reasonable system of inspection was in place at the time of the accident and that they were regularly checking, this defence may be enough for them to see off your claim. For this reason you should ensure that you enlist the help of the local people to verify whether this has been done to their knowledge.