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More power to people bid

PUBLISHED: 15:08 06 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:33 03 July 2010

Dominic Bareham

LOCAL residents have been promised greater powers to influence Great Yarmouth Borough Council as part of new measures enabling petitions to be dealt with more efficiently.

LOCAL residents have been promised greater powers to influence Great Yarmouth Borough Council as part of new measures enabling petitions to be dealt with more efficiently.

The Governance of Britain Green Paper, which aims to give people a greater say in decisions affecting their communities, seeks the views of local authorities on how the arrangements for local petitions can be strengthened.

The recommendations, discussed by the borough council's scrutiny committee, propose the borough council must respond to any petition calling for the consideration of an issue falling within the broad remit of the authority's powers.

A set of criteria has been established for deciding whether to reply to petitions, including whether the subject of the petition relates to the functions of the local authority, or other public services with shared delivery responsibilities and whether the signatures had been collected by a local person.

Other advice included ensuring the petition demonstrated a sufficient level of support among local people and the signatures were relevant - particularly that the person was either an elector or lived in the area to which the petition related.

A “sufficient level of support” could be defined in absolute terms as a set number of relevant signatures or as a proportion of the relevant signatures.

A separate set of government proposals concerned the “councillor call for action” which gives individual councillors the power to refer a local matter concerning his or her ward to the appropriate overview and scrutiny or crime and disorder committee.

The committee is then obliged to put the matter on its agenda with powers to investigate it.

The scrutiny committee agreed to take the recommendations on board and the councillors call for action is due to come into effect from April 1.

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