Sunday, 29 November 2009

PETITIONS TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES - Electronic petitions

I have written to The Rt Hon John Denham MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Mr Lee Scott, MP with regard to The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009, CHAPTER 2 - PETITIONS TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES - Electronic petitions.

Clause 148 Commencement: general states that:
(2) In Part 2 (local authorities: governance and audit)—
(b) Chapters 2 and 3 come into force—
(i) in relation to England, on a day appointed by the Secretary of
State;

My questions are:
1. Has a commencement date for Chapter 2 of the above Act been set?

2. Effectively, from which date will my Local Authority (The London
Borough of Redbridge) be legally obliged to ensure that they
provide an electronic petition facility in accordance with Chapter
2 of The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act
2009?

Just for good measure I have requested the same information from the Communities and Local Government department under the freedom of information Act.

I will let you all know when I receive an answer from each source and indeed what it is.

5 comments:

  1. I Had a very prompt response from Mr Lee Scott this morning at 6.15 saying that he will forward my enquiry on to the leader of Redbridge Council.

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  2. Mark: What do we want?
    Crowd: e-petitions!
    Mark: When do we want it?
    Crowd: Now!

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  3. Today I have received a response to my question to Mr Scott regarding e-petitions from Councillor Keith Prince.

    "The Authority is currently being consulted on the draft statutory guidance on the duty to respond to petitions which includes a provision for e-petitions."

    I understand that the consultation process will be lasting at least 12 weeks, starting 2nd December 2009 and ending 24 February 2010.

    Included in the consultation is the draft Local Authorities (Petitions) (England) Order 2009, which states that it (the order) shall come into force on 1st April 2010.

    A link to the consultation process and draft guidence and orders can be found here: petitions consultation
    http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/petitionsresponseconsultation

    The purpose of the public consultation is to seek views on whether this guidance meets its aims.

    However, Question 12 of the consultation is as follows:
    "Initial discussions with both the local government and technology sector indicate that it would be wise to stagger the implementation of the e-petition element of the duty, bringing the e-petition requirements into force 12 months after the other elements of the duty are commenced. Do you agree? Please explain your reasons."

    I acknowledge that in order to integrate a proper e-petition facility into all aspects of a local government website, including, council meetings forums and other existing web pages, it may take some time, maybe! But I don't think it would take that much to include with all website published pages, council decisions, forum pages, discussions and area meeting minutes etc, the option to click a live link in order to begin the creation of an online petition. There are also other LAs who have already provided an e-petitions facility by using an e-petitions facilitator website such as created by "Public-i" see link: http://www.public-i.info/clients.php?p_id=2&alphabet=all

    I propose that the whole thing could be set up easily within 6 months of the start date for the rest of the petitions act, rather than 12. I would like to think that other on line community users would also agree that 12 months is too long to wait for an on line e-petition facility.

    I hope that the citizens of Redbridge will be consulted about the draft statutory guidance, inlcuding the e-petitions. The draft guidance clearly states that:

    "Representative groups are asked to give a summary of the people and organisations they represent, and where relevant who else they have consulted in reaching their conclusions when they respond."

    I shall be writing to councellor Prince requesting that the council consults the people of Redbridge about the draft statutory guidance before giving their response.

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  4. Cllr Prince has again responded very promptly to my further question on the matter of e-petitions. You can read all about it in my experimental Redbridge Community Forums

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  5. Well done to Mark on eliciting responses from both Lee Scott MP and the Leader of the Council. It shows that concerns are taken seriously.
    So, the question of e-petitions will be aired at Full Council.
    Good. We already know Cllr Bond's view which is published on the redbridge forum. Could we have the input of a Labour Cllr as well?
    And, of course, of as many as poss., other Cllrs as well!
    annesevant

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