Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Councils 'to promote democracy'

Birmigham Town Hall
Councils will be told to set up boards to monitor local prosperity

Councils in England are to be told to "promote democracy", under government plans outlined in the Queen's Speech.

The Local Democracy Bill promises a legal duty on local authorities to respond to petitions.

The bill would also "ensure" council house tenants were "central" to housing decisions, the government said.

In addition, local authorities would have to set up Economic Prosperity Boards and improve "cash flow" to contractors, such as building firms.

In her speech to mark the State Opening of Parliament, the Queen said: "My government will bring forward legislation to promote local economic development and to create opportunities for community and individual involvement in local decision-making."

The Department for Communities and Local Government said the bill would extend the "duty to involve", so that councils have to ensure government bodies involve local people in their decision-making.

The plans follow a recent white paper on local democracy.

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