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Government to consult on petitions

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The government plans to consult in the coming months on how petitions can be made a more effective tool to enable communities to raise issues with councils.

Communities and local government minister Hazel Blears said: "For a petition to be one to which statutory bodies are to be duty bound to respond, there must be a sensible threshold for the number of backers for the petition.”

Ms Blears explained that the number of signatures a petition must have in order for bodies to be duty bound to respond must not be set too low, as it would waste communities’ time. Nor, she said, must it be set too high; otherwise it would be difficult for residents to raise issues.

Ms Blears added: "I also want to consult about what kind of response a petition would trigger. Now of course I'm not suggesting an automatic change of policy - democracy defined by Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells is no democracy at all. But if enough people agree, I think there's a very strong case for the council to take a hard look at their policy."

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