Focus: Policy and Politics - Question Time - Tom Franklin, director, Living Streets

What is the Corporate Manslaughter Bill?

The Bill is a long-standing commitment by the Government to introduce legislation that deals with gross failings by senior management teams in meeting health and safety obligations.

The intent is fine, but we are concerned it will extend into other areas of government guidance. This could mean that risk-averse managers within local authorities stifle innovation. They might say, for example: "We have to follow every single guidance coming out of government otherwise we could be at risk under the Bill." A lot of the guidance from the Department of Transport, we think, is bad news in that it doesn't encourage people to use their streets and walk.

What could be the consequences?

If this legislation stops local authorities taking risks and trying out new things to encourage people to walk, then the Government's plans for reducing obesity will be hit. It might also damage the Government's agenda on creating public space that is safe and isn't dominated by anti-social behaviour.

What actions have you taken?

We've responded to the Government's consultation on the draft Bill.

We had a rapid response from the Home Office, which said that it had taken our comments on board. At the same time, the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Work & Pensions Select Committee are holding a joint enquiry into the draft legislation, so we have submitted evidence to them both. I think it's going to be critical to get these select committees on our side - we're going to do quite a strong lobbying job on those MPs.

Do you have any plans to work with other charities?

We have various stakeholder organisations, such as Crime Concern and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, and we are in the process of writing to some of those key organisations so that they're aware of the potential consequences of the Bill.

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