Hillingdon Labour calls for Council to improve how residents can create change in their communities

With lockdown in full force, residents are unable to go door to door with their paper petition to get signatures from their neighbours to change an issue of concern in the area. From parking management schemes to road resurfacing, it is important that residents feel empowered to use their voices and collective action to tell the Council what needs to change in their area.
Currently, only 20 signatures are needed on a paper petition form but if a resident wishes to use an online petition, they must gain 100 signatures and signatories will need to register an account with the Hillingdon Council website – an obstacle that may put people off signing. With paper petitions being currently unworkable, Councillor Stuart Mathers put a motion to Hillingdon Full Council asking the cabinet to reduce the threshold of online petitions from 100 to 20 signatures to put it on par with paper petitions, and to remove the requirement to register an account with the Hillingdon Council website.
Information from the Council shows that 47% of non-planning and licensing related petitions, in the last two years, did not meet the 100 signature threshold, even though many of these petitions achieved double the amount than the threshold needed for a paper petition.
 
Despite strong representations made by the Hillingdon Labour Group at last weeks Full Council meeting, the Conservative-run Council decided that the current system was sufficient as this is “how many organisations do petitions” according to Conservatsive Councillor Richard Lewis, whilst ignoring that even the Parliament petitions website only requires an email address to verify identity and stop mass multiple signatories from one person, as creating a seperate account to sign a petition is an unnecessary obstacle to democracy.
Speaking after the Council meeting, Cllr Mathers said:
“This is just another move by this Conservative Council to hold off hearing residents’ views because they prefer to believe that all is rosy.
“This is a huge concern as we want residents to stay safe during the pandemic, whilst being able to engage with the council on issues they are concerned about. With Residents all over the Borough calling out for change in their street or communities, we must make it as easy as possible for them to engage with decisions now and over the long term. 100 online signatures is an arbitrary and unnecessary requirement . Some concerns will also only affect 50 people, which means that the Council simply doesn’t determine it as an issue.”
“They claim to put residents first, but the reality is that the only residents they want to put first is those that do not require additional support.”

 



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