PUBLIC ACCESS TO COMMON GOOD INFORMATION -Ask MSPs to intervene

Councils are supposed to keep a record of our Common Good – They don’t.
This information should be available to the public – Its not.
The council are trying lease bits of our parks which do not comply to
Common Good objectives.
In all they are denying us the right to our Common Good.
Without a record we can’t keep track of our Common Good fund.
These are ancient rights and assets that should be passed to our kids
Write to your MSP and ask him or her to demand pubic access to a list of
our Common Good assets. See below for info & letter template. B.

My recent post on the forthcoming Public Records Bill (http://
www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/bills/56-PublicRecords/b56s3-introd-en.pdf)
recommended lobbying MSPs to intervene. I have been asked for a model
letter on which to base individual approaches to MSPs throughout
Scotland.

The following has been written from a Glasgow perspective but covers
the essential points which would apply in your own area. Please
contact me if you need details of the documents referred to in the
text. Bill Fraser <newfarci@gmail.com>

~~~~~~~
Dear MSP,

PUBLIC ACCESS TO COMMON GOOD INFORMATION

To quell public disquiet about the proper accounting for Common Good
assets, heritable and moveable, the Scottish Executive in 2007 issued
an instruction to all local authority Directors of Finance to maintain
comprehensive and up-to-date registers. It is now obvious that
councils in their role as trustees of the Common Good have for the
most part defied the will of Parliament and have no intention of
complying. Further measures are required to rectify this national
problem. The forthcoming Public Records Scotland Bill (SP56) presents
such an opportunity.

In 2007 the Scottish Executive instructed all local authorities ‘…to
hold a record of all common good assets and…make this information
available to the public if asked..’ It was a condition of the
additional capital grant provided to councils in 2007-8 ‘that a report
on asset…management be provided’ and that ‘they must hold accurate
records’ (including) ‘those assets held for the Common Good’ This
exercise was to be completed by March 2009.

A number of local authorities, including Glasgow City Council, failed
to comply. Despite criticism from the Information Commissioner,
Glasgow maintains its position that any common good implications will
be examined at ‘exchange of missives’. This policy contributed to the
abandonment of the proposed lease to Go Ape in Pollok Park. As a
result, in March 2010 the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman found
some degree of maladministration since the Common Good status of the
Park could have been affirmed two years previously and prevented a
waste of public money in pursuing a lease which did not meet common
good objectives.

In June 2010, Audit Scotland’s gave evidence to the Public Petitions
Committee (PE1050) that “Councils have generally taken reasonable
steps to comply with the (2007) guidance”. Based on this assurance the
Committee wrote “…that the Scottish Government, in light of this
assessment, is satisfied that common good sites are as protected as
they can be and sees no need for new legislation in respect of common
good assets”. In reply to further enquiries about proposed future
monitoring, Audit Scotland wrote to campaigners that their future
programme “will not  include any proposals for a study of common good
assets.” The Clerk to the Public Petitions Committee has confirmed
there is no mechanism to reopen consideration of a petition if new
evidence suggests Audit Scotland’s assurances are optimistic.

In conclusion, local authorities have chosen to ignore the
instructions of the Scottish Parliament and the watchdog refuses to
bark. The forthcoming Public Records Scotland Bill requires the
introduction of an approved Records Management Plan but makes no
specific mention of Common Good Asset Registers. Specifying an up-to-
date Common Good Asset Register as part of the Model Plan and securing
the right of public access may send the message to recalcitrant local
authorities that proper accounting for Common Good is an obligation to
the community they must no longer ignore.

Without a comprehensive public record of Common Good Assets and Trusts
administered by councils, communities cannot act to preserve their
ancient rights and the government’s stated policy of community
involvement will be frustrated.

We urge you to intervene at Stage 1.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Please forward: (All over Scotland)

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