More news on the Petition this morning.

You may remember that the Petitions Committee agreed at the last meeting on 21 February that they would write back to the Scottish Government seeking further information on a number of issues and also to “highlight the petitioner’s continuing concerns about the lack of professional support that is available to assist members of the public contributing to public inquiries.”   You will probably remember that Planning Aid Scotland offered to refer anyone seeking  assistance for professional representation to the Faculty of Advocates Free Legal Services Unit.  That is much appreciated but it has limitations. The Planning Bar is very small, and very busy. Every application for assistance is screened by an Advocate before it can be advanced for full advice or representation and that in itself is a major hurdle to overcome as many worthy cases may be filtered out.  In our view, anyone taking part in an Inquiry deserves to have at least one professional on their side.  It is not a lot to ask when you consider they are facing an entire team of lawyers and experts sitting on the other side of the table!

The committee received a reply from the Scottish Government but to our surprise there was no mention of “professional support” despite the fact we had made suggestions showing how this could be achieved and funded.

We wrote to the Petitions’ Committee Team to ask if they had forgotten to mention it in their letter (which is not posted on the Petition webpage) and this was their reply.

As you may be aware, due to the volume of correspondence the Committee generates we do not routinely publish outgoing correspondence on individual petitions. I can, however, confirm that the Convener’s letter to the Minister did refer to your continuing concerns about the lack of professional support available to assist members of the public contributing to public inquiries, and included a link to your submission of 3 February 2024.

 I hope this is helpful.

So it looks like the Scottish Government are deliberately trying to ignore us!  Well it won’t work.  Aileen has written back to the Petitions’ Team asking them to contact the Scottish Government and request an immediate response and she is also in the process of writing direct to the Minister in a bid to hurry things along.  We’ll let you know when we get a response!


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