At the November meeting of Birmingham City Council a Liberal Democrat initiative was agreed which will when implemented extend the influence that people can bring to bear on the decisions made by the council regarding the provision of services.
Councillor Ann Holtom (Lib Dem, Tyburn) said "the Council will shortly be introducing an 'e petition' facility which will allow all residents to raise local issues with the city council".
Anybody will be able to raise an e-petition on an issue which concerns them. It could be a petition for additional play facilities, measures to tackle crime/anti social behaviour or for improved street lighting. The list is endless of issues which can be raised.
The lead petitioner is in charge of their own petition and can encourage their friends and neighbours to sign the petition "on line".
Once the deadline for the petition is set (there will be no time limit imposed) the lead petitioner can present their petition to the Council or ask a Councillor to present it for them.
The Council will then be required to investigate the petition and say what action it is going to take in response to the petition. This is certainly an extension of people power and I was very pleased to support this idea.
Unlike paper petitions the lead petitioner can keep people up to date with developments and the councils response as signatories to the e-petition have to provide their email address. This enables the petitions supporters to be kept up to date with the petitions progress.
I am very hopeful that this will encourage people to raise issues that concern them to the attention of the Council.
The introduction of an e-petition facility is certainly an extension of democracy and I am looking forward with interest how many e-petitions are received from Tyburn Ward residents.