Voters 'do not know' their councillors

image captionMore than 9,500 council seats will be up for grabs next month

Most people cannot name any of their local councillors and are dissatisfied with their work, research on attitudes to local authorities has suggested.

A YouGov survey suggested low name recognition of councillors across the UK, with 79% of East Midlands residents unable to name a single representative.

Satisfaction with the work of councils is highest in North East England - but still less than one in three are happy.

People have rated councils better than national government in past studies.

Voters will go to the polls on 5 May to elect more than 9,500 councillors in nearly 280 councils across England.

Research by polling firm YouGov, designed to coincide with the election campaign, has suggested that the majority of voters casting their ballots next month will do so not knowing any of the candidates.

It asked more than 2,000 people aged over 18 across the UK whether they could name any of their local councillors.


Recognition was highest in Scotland, where 47% of those canvassed were able to identify one of their local representatives. In Northern Ireland, the figure was 46%, while in Wales, the figure was 44%.

Across the English regions, recognition was highest in the North East of England - at 43%. But in six regions - the East Midlands, the East of England, the West Midlands, London, the south west of England and the south east - less than one in three of those asked could identify the person representing them.

Asked whether the local authority addressed the needs of their local communities, only 20% of people living in the North West of England said it did. Approval levels were highest in the North East (31%), the West Midlands (28%) and Wales (27%).

Social networking site Streetlife, which commissioned the research, suggested it demonstrated there was a "real disconnection" between residents of local communities and those representing them.

The findings contrast with those of the Hansard Society, whose recent audit of political engagement concluded that awareness and satisfaction with local politics had increased since last year's general election.

It found that more than two out of three people were interested in how local services were provided and nearly half believed they were being delivered well - much higher than at a national level.

The Hansard Society also found name recognition was also a problem for national politicians, with only 38% of people able to name their own MP.

But its research suggested that interest in local politics did not translate into a wish to become involved - with only one in ten people saying their were likely to volunteer in their communities over the next couple of years.

Elections are taking place next month in 36 metropolitan boroughs, including Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield, as well as 49 unitary authorities and 194 district councils - the biggest test of popular opinion since last year's general election.

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have all been campaigning in recent days to try and garner support.

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