Page last updated at 00:58 GMT, Monday, 1 February 2010

Failing firms must face public, says government

Road works
Utility firms digging up roads will be more accountable, ministers say

Bosses whose companies annoy members of the public will have to come face-to-face with them to explain their failings, the government says.

A parliamentary bill will outline rules to ensure transport firms and utility providers are forced to go to meetings.

Issues like badly carried out road works and expensive school bus tickets would be covered, the government says.

Communities Secretary John Denham said there would be "no hiding place" for sub-standard services.

A Private Member's Bill drawn up by Labour MP David Chaytor has gained government support.

If passed it would end the need of local authorities to rely on "voluntary co-operation" of service providers they want to attend scrutiny hearings.

For instance, energy firms which dig up roads and pavements might have to explain why they have left them in a worse state than they found them.

'Spotlight'

Or the public could ask why railway station safety is sub-standard or why a bus route does not come nearer their homes.

Mr Denham said: "Local people should be able to elect councillors who can get back to them on the performance of all local public services, not just the ones run by the council itself.

"This bill gives councillors the power to hold all these services to account whether they are provided by other public bodies or private companies delivering public services."

"There should be no hiding place from awkward questions for company bosses about why they are not providing the high quality local public services people are entitled to."

Mr Chaytor said: "I am delighted that the government is backing my Private Member's Bill to put the power to act quickly and effectively into the hands of local councils.

"This will allow them to step in and fix problems and raise standards where local public services are seen to be falling short of what is expected of them."



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