Magazine article Public Finance

Blears Flags Up 'Citizen Power' White Paper

Magazine article Public Finance

Blears Flags Up 'Citizen Power' White Paper

Article excerpt

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has announced a white paper on empowering citizens after a government survey found that more than nine out often people thought local councils' accountability could be improved.

The paper is expected in the summer and will focus on four themes: improving deprived areas through regeneration; encouraging active citizenship and reviving local democracy; improving local public services; and strengthening local accountability. It will respond to the Independent Councillors Commission report on broadening local authority representation, published in December.

Blears' announcement on March 5 followed a survey by the Department for Communities and Local Government, which found that more than six out often members of the public did not feel they had enough say in how council services were run.

Only 45% of those asked said their council listened to their views, while 92% felt accountability of local councils could be improved'.

Publishing a 'launch document' ahead of the white paper, Blears said citizens must be given more opportunities to influence decisions affecting their local services.

The initiative follows Blears' December announcement of plans to compel local authorities to respond to any petition signed by 250 residents, and the launch of pilot community contracts' between councils and local people in January.

Blears said: 'I want to hear from the public about what more we can do to reinvigorate the grass roots of local democracy, to encourage active citizenship, and to enable people to connect with their local leaders. …

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