Councils should focus on improving roads and housing, poll suggests

·3-min read
Fixing roads and pavements should be a top priority for councils, a new poll has found (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)
Fixing roads and pavements should be a top priority for councils, a new poll has found (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Archive)

Voters want their local councils to improve roads and provide more affordable housing, a new poll has found.

The survey carried out by Ipsos ahead of the local elections on May 5 found 50% of people thought improving the condition of roads and pavements should be a top priority for councils.

That figure rose to 60% in Wales and 63% in Scotland, while in London only a third of people thought roads were a priority.

Second on the list was providing affordable, decent housing, with 39% of voters telling Ipsos this area was most in need of improvement.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

While the main political parties have focused their local election campaigns on the cost-of-living crisis, this came fourth on the public’s list of priorities, behind improving health services and level with improving the condition of shops and town centres.

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos, said: “Nationally, much of the attention is being paid to the cost of living crisis, Ukraine and party-gate, but when it comes to the upcoming council elections more local factors will also have a role to play.

“Although most people are pretty happy with where they live, they still want to see improvements, particularly on roads, housing, high streets and the local cost of living – all of which are regular bugbears for local residents.

“And these can all vary by where you live, for example, crime is a particular issue in London, while in the rest of the South East traffic congestion is a bigger priority.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

After a decade that has seen average council tax bills rise by almost a third, Ipsos found that nearly four in 10 voters thought councils provided poor value for money and only a quarter thought they provided good value for money.

Voters were also split on whether they were satisfied with their councils, with 34% saying they were and 31% saying they were not.

Southerners were more likely to be satisfied with their councils’ performance, with satisfaction levels reaching 40% in London and the South West and 37% in the South East.

In Scotland, however, satisfaction with local councils was just 26% and only 17% thought Scottish councils provided value for money.

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the Local Government Information Unit, said the figures showed “a worrying disconnect between the public perception of what local government does across the UK and the value they truly provide for our communities”.

He said: “It’s disappointing that people feel their councils provide poor value for money, when after more than a decade of funding cuts, councils across the country are continuing to care for the elderly, safeguard vulnerable children, invest in housing and drive local growth.

“And, throughout the pandemic, councils up and down the country supported their most vulnerable residents and made public health work where central Government interventions failed.”

Satisfaction with central Government’s efforts to improve neighbourhoods was lower across the board, with just 24% nationally saying they were satisfied and 39% saying they were dissatisfied.

Mr Skinner said: “While the public look more favourably towards local councils than central Government when it comes to making their local area a better place to live, candidates will want to show how they are going to give local residents value for money by delivering on these bread and butter issues.”

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