AA/Populus panel

Driving issues are important to local election voting

road sign showing speed humps for 700 yards

1 June 2009

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of the AA/Populus drivers' panel say that driving issues will be important in this week's local elections. However, although most council candidates will be in tune with this by pandering to local concerns within their wards, many may risk that opinion turning against them at full council level, warns the AA.

What is important to a local neighbourhood to solve problems such as parking, speeding and traffic congestion, may anger voters from elsewhere in the local authority – Speed cameras, speed humps, changed road priorities, parking restrictions and anything likely to incur a financial penalty for non-compliance may satisfy local concerns but cause a wider backlash.

Of 13,332 drivers responding to an AA/Populus panel survey this spring, 20% of them agreed that driving issues are very important in determining who they will vote for in local elections. A further 45% said they are quite important.

The youngest and oldest voters are the most influenced by driving issues, respectively 66% and 68% in rating driving issues important. Almost a quarter (24%) of pensioners say the impact of council policies on driving is very important in deciding who to vote for.

Regionally, voters in the South, North West and North East (all 67%) are the most switched on to driving as a local election issue, Wales the least (57%). The group that includes skilled manual workers, at 72%, are most likely to see driving issues as a factor in deciding who to vote for, possibly because of everyday travel between jobs and having to deal with problems like parking and traffic congestion.

Factors that may influence local election voting

Parking – restrictive policies, over-zealous ticketing and increased charges, particularly for councils that didn't pass on the 2.5% VAT cut

Speeding – enforcement and restriction policies versus neighbourhood protection

Environmental – restrictive and revenue-raisjng policies masquerading as green initiatives, such as workplace and residents' permit parking charges

Road condition – state of repair (potholes, lighting), winter gritting and snow clearance

Congestion – time it takes to get to work, road improvement schemes, and public transport

AA comment

Commenting, Edmund King, AA President, said:

"Despite all the talk of MPs' expenses, when it comes to local elections road issues are important. Local papers are always full of letters about pot-holes, pavements and parking. Previous research from AA/Populus has shown us that the voting intentions of AA members' tend to reflect those of the population at large but that AA members are more likely to vote.

"The 'AA voter' will be important at the elections this week and politicians should remember this."

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2 June 2009