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Jan 30 2013

Harrow Council Fails with Online Petitions System

vote_tick_boxWe had an email from a reader, talking about petitions, and how the failure of Harrow Council to provide such a system, two-and-a-half years after promising it, is a worry.

E-petitions seems to be making big inroads in progressive councils around the country and indeed, both Hillingdon and Brent have implemented methods whereby residents can raise issues, solicit ‘signatures’ and have these presented to the Council electronically.

Harrow Council have also looked at this, some two and a half years ago. In fact, their Petition Scheme even goes as far as to say (section 8.1) that you can submit petitions online:

We welcome e-petitions which are created and submitted through our website (www.harrow.gov.uk).

Which, of course, is nonsense. We know it’s nonsense, because further up, in section 1.4, they say:

We are currently developing our e-petition Scheme. In the meantime please submit a paper petition.

So why does this matter? Well, it matters a lot: there seems to be significant concern from residents with the way that the Council has been operating of late: its plan to terminate funding to Harrow Young Musicians, for example, or the Vaughan School expansion that’s planned. Trudging from door-to-door, loitering outside train stations, and the traditional ways of doing these things don’t work as well as, perhaps, they once used to.

Many on-line petitions use www.change.org – it’s great, there’s little overhead, and it is easy to set up. However, there’s one big problem: change.org doesn’t collect addresses, which Harrow Council demand as a ‘must include’ requirement: “the names addresses and signatures of people who support the petition and who live, work or study in the Borough of Harrow.”

Harrow’s inability to deliver on something it was working on 30+ months ago is ingenious: with a single blow, it can claim that any on-line petition doesn’t comply with the rule, and instantly dismiss them. Does it do this? We don’t know, and we can’t ask. It would, of course, be interesting to know how many petitions submitted to the Council were dismissed for not containing the addresses of those who signed.

As our submitter says, “…the council should make an e-petition system available as other boroughs do as it is unrealistic these days to expect people to obtain a paper based petition. It was 2 1/2 years ago that they were talking about it in the attached document so why is it not yet available?”

Thanks to GN for the email.

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1 comment

  1. Morepowertothepeople

    Unfortunately, having just looked at Harrows criteria for an E-petition, I can tell you now the monitoring Officer is Hugh Peart, Legal and governance Director of Harrow. He will be a big part of the reason why it has not been properly implemented, and will make it awkward and difficult for Harrow Residents to use! His job is to deflect ANYTHING that will show the Council in a bad light , take it from someone who knows how this man operates! If you do submit a petition he will decide whether or not the council ‘Roll with it’, or whether it is vexatious, a favourite word of the legal dept, or even worthy of the Councils time! If you are one of the very few who get a petition in front of the Cllrs, you get 1 minute to speak only, and Cllrs have 10 mins to discuss it! Is it worth it……..probably not !

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