'Power to people' plans unveiled
Town halls should be more responsive to the public, ministers say
Proposals to give people in England more power over how local services are run are due to be unveiled.
A government White Paper, titled Communities in Control, suggests pilot schemes allowing some council assets to be transferred to neighbourhood groups.
Community centres, swimming pools and land could be handed over under the programme, the BBC understands.
It also proposes giving petitions more weight and making it easier to introduce directly elected mayors.
Some areas currently struggle to get enough signatures to trigger a mayoral referendum, but the White Paper suggests also allowing names to be collected online.
And organisers of local petitions, often ignored by councils, will be given the opportunity of a full council debate on the issue if their demands are initially rejected.
The government hopes that the reforms will make local authorities more responsive to the public.
However, ministers have rejected suggestions that long-serving councillors should be limited to five terms.
It is expected, however, that those who give way to younger blood could adopt the title "alderman" or "alderwoman" in recognition of their services.