Thursday, 30 October 2014

Petitions & Bury MBC

WHEN the man organising a petition against Bury Council's decision to cut the collection of grey waste from every two weeks to every three weeks failed to turn up at the last full Council meeting to present his petition of over 3,000 names, it created a bit of a dilemma for the authorities.  In the light of the non-attendance of the organiser of the petition it was decided, apparently by the monitoring officer and the Chief Executive, that the proper course would be to proceed to the next item on the agenda.

This approach was questioned at the time by the opposition Conservative group, and following an application under the Freedom of Information Act by Bury Unite Commercial trade union branch, it seems that at present there is no specific advice as to what to do in the circumstances where the person who ought to present the petition doesn't turn up on the night of the full council meeting.

Bury Unite trade union asked:
'At the full Council meeting of Bury MBC on Wednesday 10th, September 2014 in the 'Council Summons & Agenda' document Book 2 at Item 5. of the Council Meeting Agenda entitled 'Petition' it was determined that as a petition had been received that fulfilled the criteria required that it ought to be'debated at Council'. But as the organiser of the petition was not present at the council meeting no debate was held because the solicitor acting for Bury MBC had advised that no debate should be held if the petition organiser was not present. I on behalf of Bury Unite Commercial Branch should like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the Council to provide my branch with the precise wording of the advice given to the Bury MBC leader of the Council?'

It seems that the advice from the Chief Executive and the monitoring officer was verbal and not in writing, and therefore not covered by the Freedom of Information Act.  However, it seems that the decision to proceed to the next item has cause some debate and a working group will be meeting to discuss the problem next week.

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