‘Many people wondered why only 12% of the electorate turned out to vote in the last town council election’, says Ledbury Town Councillor Rich Hadley who ran the initiative. ‘Disproving the idea that local people are apathetic about town affairs, our research shows that townspeople are full of interest about the issues and decisions being taken by the Town Council. It’s just that they feel that they are being kept in the dark.’
Key survey results revealed:
· Of the people who voted, about two thirds felt they did not have enough information to make an informed decision and wanted more candidate information. The most frequently mentioned source of information about the election taking place was by word of mouth.
· Seven out ten people who didn’t vote were aware that there was an election taking place to fill a council vacancy. The main reason for not voting, cited by about half, was that people felt they did not have enough information on the candidates to make a choice. More information on the candidates and more publicity by the candidates and the Council, including distributing polling cards, might have encouraged them to vote.
· Awareness of LTC activities is low: around three quarters of people know nothing or little about dates of meetings, topics under discussion, or decisions and policies. A large majority of all respondents (whether they voted or not) thought that voting in elections for Ledbury Town Council was very important (60%). Just 10% thought that voting for LTC was not important. More than 85% of respondents thought that LTC is important in shaping life in Ledbury while just 15% thought that it is unimportant. In terms of overall satisfaction with LTC, about half of respondents are ‘neutral’ (assumed to be a function of lack of awareness), about a third are dissatisfied, and 20% satisfied.
‘The results offer encouragement to Ledbury Town Council that it has the potential to gain a valued place in the lives of local people, but there is much work to be done in raising awareness and communicating more effectively with the community’ said Rich Hadley.
‘Improved communications with the electorate about election candidates and their policies, also seems to be key priority in motivating people to go out and vote,’ he added.