Fraserburgh Academy will make history when it hosts a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee on Monday 30 March. The Fraserburgh meeting marks the first time a Scottish Parliament committee has met in “the Broch”.
The meeting will open at 10am and take the form of a public meeting. Those attending will have the chance to speak to and engage with the committee’s MSPs about the petitions process and how it can be improved. The committee will then hear from Fraserburgh Academy pupils, Jenna McDonald, Fiona Anderson and Mark Buchan, who have submitted petitions on local healthcare provision in rural areas and on poverty and deprivation in Africa .
The committee will also consider a number of petitions with a very local interest.
- Ron Beaty from Gardenstown’s petition on school bus safety (PE1223) will be addressed by local MSP Stewart Stevenson, speaking in his capacity as Scottish Government Minister for Transport
- Grampian Police will speak to the committee on community prisons (PE1150)
- MSPs will also consider petitions on the A90/937 safety improvements (PE1236)
- and the provision of forensic services (PE1226).
The committee’s year-long inquiry into the public petitions process aims to improve awareness of, access to, and participation in the petitions process and examine how the increasing volume of petitions can be processed and scrutinised as effectively as possible. Since 1999, 1250 petitions have been lodged. The Parliament’s petitions process has a worldwide reputation, with many other parliaments looking at the Scottish example as a model of best practice. This is a chance for the public to come along and see a parliamentary committee in action.
Committee Convener Frank McAveety said: “As a public-facing committee and one of the most open and accessible parliamentary committees, we are delighted to be meeting at Fraserburgh Academy.
"We want to ensure that the Parliament’s world-renowned petitions system is fit for purpose in the 21st century. This is why we are so keen to hear from Aberdeenshire pupils, local residents and community groups. Do they know the system exists and how could it be better publicised and improved?
"We must continue to be innovative and creative about how we maintain and improve this direct route for citizens into their Parliament and the development of policy.”
Since 1999, the Public Petitions Committee has considered petitions on subjects as diverse as the availability of cheap alcohol, the welfare of Siamese fighting fish and the availability of cancer-treatment drugs on the NHS. In January, the Committee sponsored a debate in the Parliament 's debating chamber on knife crime on the back of a petition from John Muir, whose son Damian was stabbed to death in 2007.
The Scottish Parliament was the world’s first to receive petitions electronically and the process has proven incredibly popular, with the e-petition website now recording more than 1,000,000 hits per month. Two-thirds of petitions submitted are now done as e-petitions.