Sunday, 18 March 2007

The farce of the No 10 E-petition

This morning I was out in Eccles, a small rural village campaigning against Southern Water's proposals to expand its nearby sludge and treatment works. Interestingly, opposition to the plans is not about the actual expansion of the Works but about Southern Water's current proposals to send HGV lorries through the village, past a school and recreational facilities, to the Works creating a huge threat to the safety of residents - particularly children.

The County Council rejected Southern Water's proposals, but the company are appealing so villagers have until 3 April to register their continued opposition. No date has yet been announced for when the appeal will be heard.

Under these circumstances you'd expect villagers to use every possible resource available to them to campaign against the proposals, and indeed that is what they have tried to do with the much vaunted No 10 system of E-petitioning. The only problem is that their request to post a petition was rejected because it is "outside the remit or powers of the Prime Minister and Government". How ridiculous! The case has been referred to Ruth Kelly's office at the Department for Communities and Local Government, who was the last time I looked, in the Government.

For those who are interested, matters which ultimately put children in danger of being run over by a HGV lorry might be out of the remit of a No 10 E-petition, but petitions you can sign include:
  • allowing the sale of elephants in UK pet shops
  • replace the National Anthem with "Gold" by Spandau Ballet
  • make banger racing an Olympic sport and
  • recognise fetishism and sadomasochism as a sane sexual practice.

Obviously these are issues which tax the minds of parents and residents of Eccles far more than HGVs speeding through the village. Whoever recently called the brains behind the No 10 E-petition a "prat" was absolutely spot on in my opinion!

UPDATE: This evening I attended a packed public meeting held at Eccles school. The strength of opposition against these proposals is incredible. The residents are gearing up for a real fight to defend their village, and most of all protect their children from huge lorries speeding down a narrow lane towards the Treatment Works.


Laurence Boyce said...

It is absurd the way that petitions are rejected because they’re supposedly not in the remit of the government or something. As if all the other petitions which are in the remit of the government are going to be acted on instantly. Petitions are just an opportunity to flag up an issue. They should only be rejected if the language they employ breaks the law in some way – this would be a tiny minority.

I’m still annoyed that my petition to remove the vote from old people got rejected. If questions concerning the electoral franchise are not in the remit of the government, then in whose remit are they exactly? And why were numerous petitions allowed which asked for a lowering of the voting age – same principle.

Anonymous said...

I had one rejected as outside the remit, for insisting that in the interests on equality women play 5 sets at Wimbledon after Tessa Jowell bounced the All England mob into paying them the same.. what rot - sent an NASTY (had had a few beers when I read the reason) response to the rejection -

Anonymous said...

I was much amused by the list of e-petionable items. Could we have some more to lighten up the day please?

Anonymous said...

I work for another water company. If people want to use the drains, the waste water has to be treated. With the process that goes on produces sludge. A while ago this was just spread on land, but people objected, so it was injected into land, people objected. Now it is transported by these HGVs to processing centres to be dried and limed so it can be spread on land. As people are now objecting to these HGVs having to transport the sludge, how exactly are the water companies supposed to treat the waste water other than just letting it go into the river?