My work on the children’s section continues, so we now have four bookcases of children’s fiction instead of two, which I think is a lot better.
The idea eventually is to have a much bigger children’s section, but that may take some time.
On to my complaint to the council, here it is:
“Hi I wish to complain about the council’s online petition facility.
I am concerned that no effort is made by the council to separate or identify petitioners and those starting a petition, into Thanet Residents and non-Thanet residents or restrict the number of times someone can sign an online petition.
Please see the Manston airport cpo issue as being unrelated to this complaint and as only being used by me because it the most recent TDC online petition and helps me to illustrate areas of possible improvement.
Although I am not against saving Manston airport, I did note that the petition was started by a non UK resident and that it had been signed both by other non UK residents and by people living within the UK who were protesting against airport expansion elsewhere in the UK, usually where they live.
All of this meant that when councillors had to decide this important local issue it wasn’t possible for them to gauge the support for the cpo among Thanet residents, who are now funding the various legal stages in investigating the issue.
The norm (that used by KCC and the UK government) appears to be only members of the electoral roll (councils) or UK residents (UK gov) can start petitions or sign them, either online or on paper.
My suggestion would be that when members of the public join the council’s website they have to supply their names and addresses so that the council could verify them. Obviously once the names had been verified they wouldn’t subsequently need to be verified for every petition, which would save the council money.
People who have already joined the council’s website would need to be emailed asking them to update their details. My understanding is that it is possible to join the council’s website, to sign petitions as many times as one has email addresses at the moment, so this would be an opportune moment to resolve the multiple signing issue too.
I would also refer you to your own document pack from when the council decided on how online petitions should function, which states that the rules for online petition should be the same as those for paper petitions and that the names and addresses for signatories of paper petitions should be verified.
I believe the situation is generally different for online consultation, where people from outside the area are allowed to take part but their responses are weighted to reflect their geographical location.
Best regards Michael”
The world of council complaints is a strange one, I think the council officers are as unhappy about the petition system as I am, but they can’t of course justify the officer time they would need to sort it out unless a member of the public complains to them.
So first I phoned them up and discussed what would be the most useful content of the complaint, to them, to them.