Pollsters to get council boost

THE OPINION pollsters, strongly criticised by Conservative politicians - among others - for their election predictions, have been provided with a new booming market by the Government.

The polling organisations are to provide the backbone of the information used by its commission that will determine the new structure of local government.

This is part of Conservative plans to shake up local decision-making and get rid of many of the Seventies creations such as Avon and Humberside which have met fierce local resistance.

The Department of the Environment is anxious that the new structures should be acceptable to the bulk of local people.

Local authorities have identified the need to present polling evidence to help bolster their submissions on the shape the reforms should take.

At least one council has commissioned research from Mori, whose findings will be used to make a representation to the new Local Government Commission. This work will be topped up by more research which will be ordered on an ad hoc basis by Sir John Banham's commission when it comes to rule on specific areas.

The commission begins work on 3 August with a review of the functions and structure of the Isle of Wight council. This will be followed by an examination of Derbyshire in early September, extending to all areas in England over the next four years.

Kent confirmed last week that it had commissioned preliminary research on attitudes towards the county, although the commission is not due to examine the area for another two years. Kent and its districts will attempt to agree a joint proposal for reform to put to the Commission. It is likely to be a compromise, with some districts or groups of districts being given independence from the county.

Ministers have ruled that there should be no preferred model for local government, opening the prospect of a patchwork of districts and counties. That is interpreted as a different emphasis from that given by the previous Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Heseltine, who favoured the creation of unitary authorities based on districts.

A spokesman for the commission said that several sources of information would be tapped, including census information showing the relationship between home and place of work. Qualitative market research - where a small group of people are questioned closely on attitudes to a range of subjects - will also be used, although no budget has been assigned for polling work. These methods have been pioneered by the political parties as a mechanism for testing strengths and weakenesses of policies and messages.

However, the spokesman added that the commission would treat findings with 'considerable caution', especially if used to back a council's case. Poll findings presented by local councils would be given greater credence if they had been produced by reputable firms and used large samples.

The spokesman added: 'We shall be aware of all the risks of loaded questions, dodgy samples and the order in which questions are asked.'

Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines