|A survey of public knowledge and perceptions of local government was undertaken in the Autumn of 1994. Its purpose was to provide baseline information prior to the reorganisation of local government in 1996. A nationally representative sample of 1,501 individuals participated in the survey and this bulletin sets out the key information obtained from the interviews. The survey was undertaken by The MVA Consultancy.|
- Most people identify with local areas which are smaller than the current administrative areas. Fifteen per cent identified with a geographical area similar to their district council area and eight per cent with an area larger than that.
- Sixty six per cent of respondents could name their regional council correctly and 63% their district council. Fifty four per cent could say where their regional council headquarters was and 63% their district council headquarters.
- Knowledge of service providers was low and there was confusion between district and regional councils and between councils and other service providers.
- Satisfaction with council services was expressed by 80% of respondents.
- Nearly half (45%) of respondents knew of council offices other than the headquarters. Forty nine per cent had contacted a council office at least once in the past year. Of these contacts, 38% were by personal visit, 53% by telephone and 8% by letter.
- Twenty six per cent said they knew a councillor personally and 11% had approached one in the last year.
- Half of respondents said there were specific issues or problems affecting their local area. Seventy nine per cent of those said the issues were the council's responsibility and that they were aware of the issues. Only 18% said they were doing something about it.
- Forty five per cent said the council was doing something good in their area.
- The standard of service provision was thought by 53% of respondents to be the same in their area as elsewhere, 16% said that it wasn't and 30% didn't know.
- Issues of rurality and remoteness were not very significant determinants of knowledge or perception.
|Identification and Awareness of Councils and Services|
|Respondents were asked firstly to name their local area and then asked if they identified with that area. Eighty eight per cent said they identified with the area they first named. The longer respondents had lived in an area, the more likely they were to identify with it. Most respondents named small local areas. They were asked about identification with a larger area than the local area they first named. However, most still named small areas.|
|Nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents identified an area smaller than a district in both of their answers. For 15% either the larger or the smaller of the areas identified approximated to a district. With 8% of respondents the larger area identified was larger than a district and the smaller area was not a district. The remaining 2% did not identify with a local area.|
|Sixty six per cent of respondents could name their regional council correctly and 69% their district council. Fifty seven per cent could name both. Fifty four per cent were able to say where their regional council headquarters were and 63% their district council headquarters. Forty three per cent could locate both.|
|Eight per cent of respondents worked for a council, a further 10% had done so in the past and 9% had a close family or household member working for a council. These groups were most likely to be able to name their councils.|
|Respondents were asked why they thought there were two councils. Sixty per cent did not know. Those who responded were most likely to refer to different responsibilities or areas to cover. Others made political or legal references. About 5% referred to unnecessary and duplicative expenditure and a few referred to the old single tier system.|
|In answer to a question about who were the providers of services in the local area, 37% of respondents identified the regional council, 44% the district council and 27% an unspecified council.|
|They were then asked to name services provided by each council. Very many services were named, quite often incorrectly. For regions, roads had most mentions (393), followed by education (314), water and sewerage (144), police (139), street lighting (123), housing (115), social work (114), refuse collection (94), hospitals (91) and parks/recreation (85). Refuse collection was most mentioned for districts (488), followed by housing (470), street cleaning (269), parks/recreation (259), roads (176), street lighting (167) and libraries (122).|
|Twenty four per cent of respondents could not name a regional council service and 18% a district council service. Of the services named, 71% were correct for regions and 73% for districts.|
|Respondents were also asked who provided specific services. As shown in Table 1 public knowledge of particular service providers is low.|
|Table 1 |
Identification of Service Providers