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.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'