Asked if councillors lose touch with people pretty quickly, 47% of respondents agreed, 23% disagreed and 28% were neutral.
But fewer that one in three thought that councillors could be relied on to place the areas' needs above the party's all or most of the time.
And local government comes near the bottom of the table of institutions which the public thinks are well run, reports The Guardian.
Only 24% agreed that 'private companies can always run things more efficiently than local councils', according to the survey by Ken Young and Nirmala Rao of London University.
The BSA surveys are carried out by Social and Community Planning Research.