It makes a huge difference to our campaign if MSPs receive letters from members of the public. It is really helpful that you plan to write to your MSP. Thanks! Our experience is that it is much more effective if you write your own response rather than send a ready-made letter. We know this takes more of your time, but it is much more powerful.
Remember that MSPs are very busy people with lots of different topics to understand and know about, and planning reform may not be top of their agenda! However, if you write to them they are more likely to see it as an important issue. It is also useful if you can tell them why you are not happy about planning the way it works now.
Below are some ideas of what you can say in your email:
The first important thing to say is
1) Planning is important to you and your community. To be a successful, healthy country with a good environment for its people to live and work in requires a good planning system.
2) You could give an example, if you have one, where you think planning is not working. (eg you may have been badly affected by a development, or you may have tried to get your voice heard about a certain development but you were not listened to, or it was hard for you to understand the planning system).
Politicians are your representatives in our democracy. Most politicians understand that the kind of democracy we live in requires the rules to be fair and equal. The Scottish Government has made a commitment to equality in Government.
So another point to make is that
3) There should be equality in planning. Communities should have the same rights as developers. People are affected by the decisions made about developments, so why don’t they have equal rights of appeal?
The Government has been carrying out research and consultation on the planning system since 2015 in the planning review. Great efforts have been made to consult people during this process. Everything has been up for discussion EXCEPT rights of appeal which has been noticeably OFF THE AGENDA. And yet, despite being banned from discussing it, people have brought it up at every opportunity. It has been raised in the written consultations by the majority of community sector respondents. In the Government-commissioned ‘Barriers to Engagement Research’, it was raised by 93% of community respondents.
Why does the Government continue to ignore this strong voice of the public calling for equal rights?
You can ask your MSP to
4) Listen to the public voice asking for the Government to consider appeal rights for communities
5) Raise the issue of equal rights of appeal during the upcoming legislative process.
6) Ask for a community right of appeal to be incorporated into the new planning bill
If you need more help/ ideas/ motivation we are always on standby to help. Please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org give us your contact details and we will get straight back to you.
Remember! Please be polite and helpful in your letter. MSPs are much more likely to help us if we treat them respectfully.
Thank you for taking the time to do this, we hope it will help us to achieve our goal.