Thursday, 13 January 2011

Newham Council Offers New Online Petition Facility

As the result of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 (one I'm guessing most of us missed), every local council in England must provide "a facility for making petitions in electronic form to the authority" This law came into force in March 2010, with the requirement that e-petition systems were set up by December. This means it is now possible to petition Newham council online via its own website.

The Act does, regrettably, allows local authorities considerable leeway to refuse a request for an e-petition, which I'm suspect that Newham council may make full use of, but it "must give reasons for not granting a request to use the facility". Currently there are, um, a total of zero e-petitions available for local people to browse, so the one I submitted today on behalf of my employer, on voluntary sector funding, may well be the first. We're now waiting for the agreement of the Divisional Director of Finance and Councillor Lester Hudson, the Executive Member for Finance, Property and Assets, to agree that it's OK for the petition to go live and hope to hear more by 21 January.

Crucially, the legislation includes a "requirement to debate". This means that all petitions that receive 1000 signatures or more will be scheduled for a debate at a future full council meeting (for at least five minutes, which is almost as long as the whole meeting in July last year) , at which the petition organiser will be invited to speak (also for 5 minutes).

The council says that its online petition facility is part of its "ongoing" but, if it's honest, difficult-to-celebrate "commitment to listening to and acting on the views of the public". So why not take them at their word and set one up yourself, on a local issue you care passionately about?

And if you get turned down - let me know. I'll compile the responses and see how effective the new system really is.


Mike Law said...

Nice post.

I wonder if it's too late to petition the Council to be fully open and transparent regarding its intended multimillion-pound loan to West Ham United?

Anonymous said...

One hopes that the petition does indeed appear, --but,er, -- surely, when you are bemoaning, and publicising campaigns against, massive upcominmg cuts you are not going to asking for special protection for your own organisation ?

Kevin said...


The answer to your question is - no. The organisation I work within doesn't receive council funding!

Anonymous said...

OK, noted.

However I'll ask a different question which is also prompted by your original post. Do you reckon that the Newham voluntary sector (or the voluntary scetor in any other Borough for that matter)per se should get special protection ?

macuser_e7 said...

I have also submitted a petition to close the Newham Mag and use the savings to protect frontline and valued services.

Apparently someone from 'Newham Democratic Services' will be in contact to let me know if the petition can proceed. Not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

Kevin,what are saying re the post(16th Jan. 21.57)re the impending cuts tsunami ? Are you in favour of special protection for the voluntary sector ?

Your latest post re climate change may be somwhat interesting to local readers,the post about the artistic depiction of a German policewoman "caught short very much less so,--but, please, how about some clarification about your position about special voluntary sector "protection".

Kevin said...


Are you in favour of special protection for the voluntary sector?

No, I am opposed to all cuts. The specific nature of the petition on the voluntary sector relates to funds that had already been allocated to community projects through London Councils but are likely to now be used elsewhere (on £2000-a-day consultants, for example).

Further details on Thursday - by then, I'll have heard whether permission has been granted by LBN for the e-Petition.


Kevin said...

PS: on the content that appears on this site...

My blog, my choices. If you'd like to start your own blog, it's really easy...


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