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Wednesday 27 November 2013

Presented Petition

Petition presented to the House but not read on the Floor

The Appeals Process for the Removal of Capacity in Legal Proceedings

The Petition of Sarah Matthews, a mother living in England,

Declares that the Petitioner’s barrister, Francesca Wiley, of 1 Garden Court Chambers without having met or being formally appointed by the Petitioner and merely on reading documents created by London Borough of Sutton applied to the court to have her mental capacity to instruct a solicitor removed because the barrister believed she was subject to querulous paranoia. Additionally her solicitors Russell & Co informed her prior to her meeting her barrister that they had jointly decided that she did not have capacity. Furthermore the solicitors refused to be instructed at this point.

The Petitioner then contacted the Honourable Member for Birmingham, Yardley who put her in touch with Sam Smith, who is a McKenzie Friend specialising in capacity issues. Sam Smith assisted her in successfully retaining her capacity to instruct a solicitor. This, however, involved paying an experts fee of £1,650 for a full assessment, followed by a further £1,500 for the expert to attend court and provide the written report. The court ordered that the Petitioner should pay the cost of this experts report if legal aid refused to pay it, which legal aid duly refused to do.

The Petitioner recognises that there is no legal support for those people who wish to argue against a removal of capacity and believes that there is a conflict of interest when legal advisors can apply to remove the capacity of their own client whilst retaining the matter when a litigation friend is appointed.

The Petitioner believes that it is difficult for someone to believe the inequality of arms when a litigant’s own legal advisors start acting against a litigant until they have experienced this.

Furthermore the Petitioner is being refused access to her files by the London Borough of Sutton. Records appear to have been altered with the intention of preventing disclosure under s77 of the Freedom of Information Act and without these she is unable to correct inaccurate information held.

The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons Justice Committee investigates the procedures that are used to remove capacity in the English and Welsh courts and calls for the provision of independent legal assistance for those people who wish to resist the removal of their capacity.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by John Hemming .]


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Culture, Media and Sport

Walsall Gala Baths

The Petition of the users of Walsall Gala Baths,

Declares that the petitioners do not wish to see the closure of the Walsall Gala Baths as they believe that it is important to have swimming facilities in the town centre. Especially and in particular, we do not wish to lose the only BRINE pool that is centrally located, well used and much appreciated for its medical benefits to many of its users.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take all possible steps to encourage Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council to consider the objections of the local residents.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Valerie Vaz , Official Report, 13 June 2013; Vol. 564, c. 594.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport:

The Government acknowledge the contribution of Walsall Gala Baths to the provision of swimming facilities in the town centre. The Government understand there is a very good level of swimming pool provision within Walsall Borough with 17 pools on 14 sites. The amount of water space in the Borough is well above the national and regional averages.

Sport England is aware of the challenges facing local authorities in the current economic climate. Sport England is supporting over 80 local authorities to develop a strategic approach to facility provision. This includes Walsall, where they provided ongoing advice and support to Walsall Borough Council. Use of Sport England’s strategic planning tools enabled the Council to complete an evidence-based review of leisure provision in the Borough, in order to identify what provision is required, how it can be delivered and the need for additional investment.

By rationalising their swimming pools, local authorities can often deliver cost savings through the replacement of older facilities with modern, efficient, fit for purpose facilities which can run at no or greatly reduced subsidy and still drive higher levels of participation. In April this year, Sport England announced nearly £5 million of lottery investment to upgrade pool changing provision at 19 pools around England through the Improvement Fund. It is also managing the relocation of nine Olympic legacy swimming pools around the country. The total number of swimming pools in England has increased by 134 since 2011, and currently stands at 5116.

While decisions about the future of Walsall Gala Baths remain a matter for the local authority, this Government welcome the news that the petition prompted the Council to revisit their plans. In September, Walsall Borough Council called for a further and more detailed report for Cabinet and Council consideration, using a cost/benefit analysis approach, as to how an investment cost (of around £1 million) might ensure a further 10-year lease of life for this town centre facility.

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Speed Limit in Elterwater, Cumbria

The Petition of a resident of the UK,

Declares that the Petitioner believes that the current speed limit of 60 mph in Elterwater, Cumbria, is hazardous for local residents.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to change the speed limit in the area to 20 mph, and introduce traffic calming measures.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Tim Farron , Official Report, 11 November 2013; Vol. 570, c. 774.]


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Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

The Department issued revised guidance in January 2013 aimed mainly at local traffic authorities who are responsible for setting speed limits on local roads. It has also been designed to help explain to everyone why and how local speed limits are determined. This circular has been revised following full public consultation in summer 2012.

Traffic authorities set local speed limits in situations where local needs and conditions suggest a speed limit which is lower than the national speed limit. It is right that local traffic authorities, not central Government, should have the flexibility to set local speed limits that are appropriate for the individual road, reflecting local needs and taking account of local considerations.

Further details can be found online at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/setting-local-speed-limits.