UK Petition Power Beefed Up

UK Petition Power Beefed Up

The Government has announced local people will soon be able to demand their
councils take action on under-performing schools and hospitals, alcohol
disorder, anti-social behaviour and other concerns under new proposals to give
teeth to local petitions.

For the first time councils will be expected to respond to petitions and tell
residents what action is going to be taken to address their concerns.  No
council will be able to ignore a petition or leave it on the shelf because it
raises a difficult or challenging issue in the local area.  Today’s proposals
are the next steps in the Government’s drive to ensure problems are solved and
residents receive the high quality local services they are entitled to.

New guidance published today for consultation sets out how councils should
respond to all petitions, especially on four key areas.

  • Under-performing schools: councils should consider the most
    effective action, including issuing a warning notice to immediately improve
    standards and could appoint more governors, remove budgets or ultimately
    consider closure if they fail to comply.

  • Alcohol related crime and disorder: in areas blighted by
    alcohol fuelled disorder, councils should consider making it an offence to
    refuse to stop drinking when asked by police, or to charge licensed premises for
    additional policing.

  • Under-performing hospitals: where communities are concerned
    about issues like poor hygiene, councils should consider asking their scrutiny
    committee to investigate, which has powers to review services, request
    information from NHS bodies, and make urgent recommendations.

  • Anti-social behaviour: councils will be expected to
    consider using the wide range of powers available to them and to work with
    police on actions such as setting response times for complaints about noise or

Announcing the proposals, Communities Secretary John Denham said:

“As their elected representatives, councillors are there to fight the corner
for local residents and make sure services meet their needs.

“Petitions are an important way for citizens to tell councils their concerns
and to get action taken on the issues that matter most to them.

“For the first time, councils will be expected to respond to petitions and
let people know what they’re going to do to address worries about
under-performing local services.

“We are giving petition power real teeth so people know it’s worth taking the
time to make their point and get things done.”

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