"A petitions committee would provide a great direct link for ordinary tax-paying members of the public to highlight matters that mean most to them – and will have the added assurance that they will be seen and acted on by elected members." Cllr Barry Jarvis
Moray residents could soon have a means of making their feelings known to their elected representatives if an idea put forward this week is adopted by councillors.
Concerned that voters are becoming increasingly distanced from local politics, Labour councillor for Elgin City North, Barry Jarvis, has proposed that a ‘Local Petitions Committee’ be formed as a matter of urgency.
Speaking at a full meeting of the newly elected Moray Council, Councillor Jarvis interrupted proceedings to ask that discussions take place at a later meeting that would go some way to addressing local concerns.
Highlighting the poor turnout at the recent local government elections in the region, the councillor asked if a petitions committee might be formed that would produce a direct link for members of the public to their locally elected representatives.
Following the meeting Councillor Jarvis said: “I am delighted that my suggestion for an investigation into the creation of a Local Petitions Committee gained unanimous support at the meeting of the full Council.
“I thoroughly believe that, if formed, a such a committee would provide a great direct link for ordinary tax paying members of the public to highlight matters that mean most to them – and will have the added assurance that they will be seen and acted on by elected members.
“Many members of the public feel disinterested, disenfranchised and disappointed with the workings of the Council. They are generally cynical of the proceedings and practice and quite often have genuinely no idea what happens once a petition has been put into the system.
“This is a way of ensuring that the hard work and dedication shown by those raising petitions is recognised and given fair hearing by elected members.”
The proposal seeks to emulate the petitions committee in operation at the Scottish Parliament, where members of the public can put forward their own proposals on any issues affecting their community. Petitions are considered by a committee of members with the petitioner offered an opportunity to put their case directly to MSPs.