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LGA CONF: STRAW ADVISES PUBLIC BODIES ON IMPLICATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ACT

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Councils should tell citizens making spurious claims under the new Human Rights Act to get lost, home secretary Jac...
Councils should tell citizens making spurious claims under the new Human Rights Act to get lost, home secretary Jack Straw advised.

He was concerned that public bodies should not feel exposed to trivial claims under the rights enshrined in the Act.

'The answer to those claims is 'get lost', and you should be very robust in doing so. You are under no obligation to follow legal advice if it doesn't seem right to you.'

But the Act needed to be at the centre of council work, he warned. 'Bells should ring if you are talking about applying council power in a way that intrudes on people's lives, homes and health, or that represses the expression of their beliefs or strongly held views,' he said.

In a wide-ranging speech Mr Straw said councils were failing to offer accommodation to enable asylum seekers to be dispersed around the country.

'The most serious problem in the dispersal programme remains availability of local authority accommodation. I fear that so far we have been disappointed by the response from some local authorities to our request for offers. I am assured the LGA remains committed to co-operating with us on the whole issue, so I hope actions will follow.'

He also launched new guidance to councils on using their powers to apply to the courts for anti-social behaviour orders (see LGCnet).

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