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COUNCILLOR WHO? Advertiser poll fails to find a single person who knows full name of their elected representatives

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AN ADVERTISER survey suggests few people in Croydon know the identity of their elected councillors – just two weeks before voters are set to go to the polls.

We asked 75 residents in four corners of the borough if they knew who their local elected representatives were.

In reply, none could fully name any of their councillors. Four people mustered first names or partial names, while many others simply said: "No idea."

Carried out in Coulsdon, New Addington, Fieldway, South Norwood and Waddon, the survey suggests many voters will go to the ballot boxes without knowing who they are voting for, while many are not interested enough to venture out at all.

Some residents said they had simply never had a reason to find out who their councillor was, while others said they were disillusioned with the way the council was run and were therefore not interested in voting.

Mel Murray, 50, from South Norwood, said: " I have not voted for years to tell the truth because you know the way things are going right now. I don't think really that the council or them are concerned about us."

Coulsdon West Conservative David Osland was the most widely named councillor in the survey, with two people offering his first name – but he said that was unimportant.

"I don't really believe in the cult of personality," said the former Met commander.

"I think the important thing is there are councillors out there who no matter who they are, no matter which party they are from, that you can pick up the phone and contact them, and I think in Croydon you can."

Coulsdon was the only ward in which residents could identify any councillors.

One remembered "Jeet" [Bains, Coulsdon West councillor], another named Chris [Wright, Coulsdon East] as having "helped" with a problem.

While some might view lack of recognition as a sign of voter apathy, Coulsdon West Tory candidate Mario Creatura said it could speak of underlying contentment.

He said: "There is another way of looking at it which suggests that people don't know the councillors or MP because they have not needed them [to sort out any problems]."

Indeed, those who said they did not know their local councillors admitted they had never had a reason to try and get in touch, while the few who had been in contact with councillors were generally positive about the experience.

Waddon councillor Tony Harris said he was "amazed" at the result, having been highly active in his ward – where he has lived for 34 years – and done plenty of work with young people in the area.

He added he felt it was important people knew who councillors were, even if they did not need them to sort out problems.

"I think it is important because that is their conduit through which to express their opinions," he said. "That is what happens at the forums and the meetings.

"We discuss various issues and a perfect example of that is the building of the Waddon Leisure Centre. Various suggestions were put forward which were incorporated into it – and some that were not."

Two Fieldway residents thought Conservative candidate Jayne Laville, who runs a job club in Central Parade, was their councillor.

Simon Hall, one of the ward's two representatives, both Labour, said he and fellow councillor Carole Bonner were always recognised out and about delivering leaflets and on the doorsteps.

He added: "We are always there to support people and help them at times of need and we are always keen to promote what we do and when we do it, to make sure people know who their councillors are and the different services we do."

The results appear to broadly reflect the wider picture.

A YouGov survey in 2011 found that fewer than one in three people in London and the South East could name their councillor.

COUNCILLOR WHO? Advertiser poll fails to find a single person who knows full name of their elected representatives


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