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UK Petition Power Beefed Up

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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 neighbours.

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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