The Government today said UK citizens will be given more power to petition Councils to sell or transfer under-used properties and have a greater say in influencing spending decisions that affect them.

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears today said the Community Empowerment, Housing and Economic Regeneration Bill, announced yesterday in Gordon Brown’s draft legislative programme yesterday, would allow local people to force debate on specific issues and influence the management of their local environment.

She said local people will be able to pressure councils ‘to consider the sale or transfer of under-used properties, lands or parks to local community groups, co-ops and social enterprises.

So a disused shopping or community centre could be handed over to local people to ensure publicly owned assets properly benefit local people rather than just being left redundant’.

Blears said: ‘This is a watershed moment for communities. People will have three new rights to right wrongs they see in their community through petitioning.

These new proposals will enable people to petition their council to take over and transform underused buildings into facilities that will energise, rather than drain the community, better hold councils to account and influence local spending decisions.’