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Aberdeen City Council establishes new Petitions Committee
Aberdeen City Council has agreed the principles which will guide the operation of the new Petitions Committee.
Members unanimously agreed its orders of reference and procedures at the first meeting today [Thurs 19 Sept].
Convener Councillor Alan Donnelly said: "This committee will give the citizens, organisations and businesses of Aberdeen the opportunity to bring their concerns directly to the council. Elected members will consider all petitions which comply with procedures and will have a number of options open to them on the best way to deal with the issues that are raised.
"This clear evidence of this council's desire to be as open and as helpful as possible to all of our communities and I would urge folk with matters to raise to take advantage of this new platform from which they can be aired."
Committee members will be able to:
take no action and advise the petitioner of their reasoning; or
agree the matter be the subject of a report to the relevant committee(s) and refer it with or without a recommendation; or
refer the matter to a relevant organisation with or without a recommendation.
Petitions will need 250 signatures from people on the Register of Electors for Aberdeen City Council, or from 10 local businesses, voluntary organisations, social enterprise companies, community planning partners, and/or other bodies.
Petition forms will be available to download from the City Council website or from staff in Democratic Services, and must be completed and submitted to the committee clerk 10 working days before a scheduled meeting. Petitions will be checked by the staff in Democratic Services and, if required, the director responsible for the subject matter. If valid, the petition will be submitted to the next committee meeting. The website will also carry guidance notes and detail the powers of the committee.
A form received and hosted on the website must have the required number of signatures 10 working days prior to a scheduled meeting. A combination of paper and online signatures is acceptable. A petition can be hosted online for a maximum 12 weeks. Petitions from businesses cannot be hosted online. A petitioner has to specifically request via the website that a petition be hosted on the council website but paper petitions received will not be hosted online.
The Council is unable to consider petitions on the following:
matters which are the subject of current court proceedings;
planning, licensing and other matters with their own procedures;
matters which should be dealt with through the Aberdeen City Council complaints procedure or through the Ombudsman;
matters concerning individual elected members or council employees;
employees' terms and conditions;
housing allocations in respect of individuals;
a decision taken by the council in the previous 12 months;
a matter which is very similar to, or the same as, one which the committee has considered in the previous 12 months;
a matter which is the subject of an outstanding committee remit;
matters designed to gain or reduce support for one or more political parties;
matters that could damage a person's reputation or discriminate against them;
personal or business interests;
an allegation pertaining to people or organisations breaking the law or codes of practice;
an allegation or matter which could be defamatory, discriminate against someone, or contain offensive language.
The lead petitioner and two supporters will be invited to attend the meeting at which the petition will be considered to speak for up to 10 minutes in support of it, with a further 10 minutes for questions from the committee. Deputations will not be permitted.
The Committee can consider two or more petitions together if they are similar or deal with the same subject. The lead petitioners will be told about this beforehand and will be asked to make either a joint statement or individual statements for each petition.
Committee members have agreed to give further consideration on mechanisms to enable young people not on the electoral roll to lodge petitions.
Council officers will report to the committee after a year of operation on lessons learned and any potential procedural changes they would recommend.