Under prescribed conditions, the Standing Orders Relating to Meetings and Proceedings of the Council, allow members of the public to submit petitions to the Council's Audit and Scrutiny Committee for consideration, and to request the right to be heard by the Committee in support of the terms of the petition.
Every application to formally submit a petition or make a deputation to the Audit and Scrutiny and Petitions Committee must be in writing and must be received not later than 5.00 p.m. on the Wednesday of the week preceding any scheduled meeting of the committee. In practice as much notice as possible is required to allow the application to be submitted. If timescales do not permit a petition of deputation to be submitted to a particular meeting, then the matter will be delayed to a future meeting.
The application to address the Audit and Scrutiny Committee should give details of the matter you wish to raise. If you wish to address the meeting on particular issues of concern, then you should be able to demonstrate that you have taken steps to resolve the issues prior to submitting your application. Details of the services or officers approached, together with copies or summaries of the responses received should be submitted along with your application form.
Petitions will only be received if they relate to the delivery of Council services or to services which are provided by the Council in conjunction with other partner organisations, or if they relate to decisions that the Council has taken or is about to take. Your petition must contain a minimum of 10 signatures from different households. The petition should give details of the matter concerned. Again you should be able to demonstrate that you have taken steps to resolve the issue of concern prior to submitting your petition.
There may be cases where it could be inappropriate to consider petitions. The following are some examples of when petitions may not be required. This is not an exhaustive list. Generally all requests will be considered on their merits.
- If they relate to cases that are or have been subject to legal or court proceedings, ombudsman complaints, industrial tribunals, appeals procedures.
- If they request the Council to do something outwith its powers.
- If they disclose information which is protected by an interdict or court order.
- If they reveal commercially sensitive or confidential information.
- If they would cause personal distress or loss.
- If they relate to an individual’s circumstances or an individual’s grievance.
- If 10 or more letters are received on one specific issue, these will be treated in the same way as petitions. If the individual leading the letter writing campaign can be identified, that person will be treated as the principal petitioner and the same procedures will apply as for petitions generally.
When an application for a deputation/petition is received the Chair of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee will be advised of the issues raised and will decide whether the matter should be dealt with at the next Committee meeting.
If your request for a deputation or to submit a petition is refused, the reasons for this will be notified to you. If your application is approved you will be invited to attend the Committee meeting. As many Members of your group as wish may attend the meeting, but the number of persons allowed to address the Committee will be limited to a maximum of 3. You will also be asked to identify the principal spokesperson beforehand.
Addressing the Committee
You should remain seated at all times during the meeting, until the spokespersons are invited to speak by the Chair. You will be limited to ten minutes to present your case to the meeting. Once you have addressed the meeting, the Members present will be invited to put questions to you.
Appropriate Members or officers of the Committee may also be invited to speak and to receive questions. If the officers are presenting a written report, you will be given a copy, if possible in advance of the meeting.
The Committee will then take a decision on the matter before it, if appropriate, or if it relates to an item elsewhere on the agenda of the meeting may wait until they reach that item before taking a decision. Once you have heard the decision you are free to leave, but are welcome to stay to listen to the rest of the meeting if you so wish.
Petitions and Deputations Relating to Planning Applications
The Council has approved separate procedures which apply to requests by objectors to planning applications who are seeking authority for a deputation to address the Planning Committee in support of their objections.