Blog your way to Holyrood

16/06/2009

As from today blogging, Wikipedia and YouTube will be some of the new social media tools introduced by the Public Petitions Committee as part of its report publication. The report is the result of a year-long inquiry into improving awareness and participation in the public petitions process.

Petitioners will be able to provide videos and photos about their petitions as part of the committee’s new blog page. A podcast, Wikipedia page and dvd about the Parliament’s public petitions system all signal the committee’s commitment in encouraging access to and awareness of the petitions process. The committee also supports the creation of local petitioning systems with local authorities.

Committee Convener Frank McAveety MSP said: “Our public petitions process is all about engaging with citizens and creating a direct route into their Parliament for them to shape and influence public policy.

"As the first Parliament in the world to launch an e-petitions system, it is vital we continue to embrace new social media like YouTube and blogging to allow people to engage with us as easily as possible. That is why we have invited along 14-year-old Ryan McLaughlin, who has already launched his own video on YouTube to publicise his petition.

"Equally, we want to ensure that petitions are scrutinised effectively which is why we support petitioning within local authorities. This would provide a route for people to take forward more locally-based petitions.”

Media launch
The Public Petitions Committee will launch its report at 12.15pm today in Committee Room 3. The Convener and members of the committee will be present alongside Ryan McLaughlin and his family. Fourteen-year-old Ryan McLaughlin from Glasgow submitted his petition on Vitamin D to prevent Multiple Sclerosis using social media to publicise a link to his webpage and Shine On campaign film. Ryan’s web pages and the revamped Public Petitions Committee pages will be shown at the launch.

Four petitioners from across Scotland will also take part in the media launch. They are -

  • Clive McGrory from Stirling (PE1069): encouraging home working opportunities for those with disabilities.
  • Lynn Merrifield from Fife (PE1098): make provision for every school bus to be installed with three point seatbelts for every school child passenger.
  • Tina McGeever from Buckie (PE1108): the provision, on the NHS of cancer treatment drugs to ensure equity across NHS boards on the appropriateness, effectiveness and availability of such treatments.
  • Janie Orr from Berwickshire (PE1215): improving the frequency of, access to and routes of, buses in rural areas to increase mobility and open up access for local communities to social, entertainment and education outlets.
  • All of the petitioners above took part in the new petitions video as well as pupils Mark Buchan and Jenna McDonald from Fraserburgh Academy.

Background
The report is the result of a year-long inquiry by the Public Petitions Committee into the public petitions process. The inquiry looked at how to improve awareness of the existence of the public petitions process, particularly among hard to reach groups, participation in the public petitions process and the scrutiny role of the committee.

Three ‘events’ inspired this inquiry:

  • petition PE1065 from Young Scot on enhancing the engagement of young people in the democratic process through new technologies
  • the research commissioned by the previous committee in 2006 on the public petitions process – Assessment of the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions System 1999-2006
  • this being the 10th anniversary of the Parliament’s re-establishment and adoption of its founding principles
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