Motoring concerns help steer local elections


COST, provision and enforcement of parking, potholes, congestion and safety are some of the motoring issues that will weigh heavily on the outcome of local elections this week.

In a survey by motoring group AA of 21,202 of its members, 51% say motoring matters. Despite this, three quarters of drivers aren’t persuaded that any of the main political parties are motorist friendly.

Sixteen per cent rate motoring issues as very important and 35% quite important. Only 15% consider them unimportant.

More than half of drivers said motoring issues were important

Older drivers aged 65 or more are most strident about how councils treat motorists (20% very important, 36% quite important). As the majority of pensioners vote in elections (70% to 75%), getting roads, parking and other motoring policies right contributes significantly to a council’s re-election prospects.

Regionally, Scots (57%) and Londoners (55%) are most likely to scrutinise motoring-related election promises and their delivery, while they are a much lower priority in Northern Ireland (40%).

Three quarters of drivers (73%) either think none of the main political parties are motorist friendly (42%) or don’t know (31%) which are. Conservatives may rate as ‘car-friendly’ but only by 13% although, in Scotland, they lose out to the SNP (10%). Labour are rated motorist friendly by 5%, Greens 3% and Liberal Democrats and UK Independence Party by just 2%.

However, in London, a 22% rating for Conservatives (Labour 4%, Liberal Democrats and Green Party 3%) suggests that mayoral policies achieve a much better balance. In Wales, 4% rate Plaid Cymru as motorist friendly.

The importance of motoring issues in local politics has been highlighted in recent years:

  • May 2010 – Voters in the London borough of Richmond reject CO2-related parking charges, ousting the Liberal Democrat council. Its mayor loses his seat after 28 years as a councillor.
  • December 2011 – London borough of Westminster forced to abandon plans to charge for Sunday parking. Council leader resigns shortly after.
  • December 2008 – 79% of voters in a Manchester referendum reject plans for congestion charge in the city, killing off the move and leaving government road-pricing policy in tatters.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Potholes and parking are major ‘political’ issues for many driver voters. Local politicians bear the scars of playing with parking provision so we appeal to all parties to consider the plight of the driver before changing transport policy.”