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Clarity of work and the openness of the City Council

HF (2013-11-15)

Project description

Our aim is to ensure the clarity of work and the openness of sessions of the City Council and its committee. We will also check the accessibility of councillors for the inhabitants of Lublin.

In view of article 23 of the Commune Self-government Act: "The councillor is in charge of the common good of the commune self-government. The councillor maintains a constant bond with the inhabitants and their organisations, especially she receives demands from the commune residents and presents them to the institutions of the commune for examination (...)". This aim will be realised through the show of the background of councillors (education, experience, social activity, views, parliamentary questions, commissions, votings) and estimate the scale of social engagement.

During the first stage of the project, the conception of video surveillance and indispensable research tools are prepared.

Another step will be the surveillance of the works of the City Council, councillors and the commission.

Effects of the above, along with possible references, will be given to the monitored subject to give the possibility to refer to our comments and jointly discuss potential solutions.

Another stage, which will finish the whole process, will be the publications of the works.

More information, for obvious reasons, will be given at the end of the project.

The project is carried out from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 thanks to the support of Stefan Batory Foundation.


The accomplishment of the above goal will be possible thanks to the conventional research of:

1. the accessibility of the works of the Lublin City Council

2. the availability of councillors, i. e. communication with the inhabitants.

3. the drawing up of the materials which are a constantly updated source of knowledge of the inhabitants concerning councillors.

Good training

Here we present good training concerning the functioning of other city councils.

- the list of a councillor's votings on a particular session with the description of cases

- Lewisham district - subside of the city council which allows for a very easy acquaintance with the works of individual councillors

- joint, easy in use programme of the works of commission containing all essential information (time and place, programme)
- Rules of councillors' discussion (involves point 2 - respect one's views regardless of sex, race, skin colour, language, religion, political views and other, ethnic and social background, affiliation with a national minority,
wealth, birth, sexual orientation or any other) and Programme Agreement for Szczecin

- Information in Public Information Bulletingcontain the schedule of works of individual commissions for the whole year

- overall juxtaposition of the works of commission; no precise dates are given, but the schedule according to which one can calculate when a given session takes place (always a full week before the City Council session)

- Information on the upcoming sessions whether the sessions are given on one site in the "Latest" section of the City Council webpage; on the website a full list of the City Council sessions can be seen

- each commission has its own link which redirects user to the subpage of a given commission; on one site all key information are collected involving the works of the commission (attendance list, work plan for the current and the previous year as well as minutes from sessions)

- site designed in a user-friendly way
- all essential information connected with the functioning of the City Council is given in the Public Information Bulletin
- access to archive records of sessions with detailed statements of councillors and the possibility of searching for them
- live broadcast of sessions

The ABC of rights and duties of a councillor

This manual is to give the short description of rights and duties of councillors as well as the rights which you are entitled to in the scope of the works of the City Council and its internal bodies. If any of these interests you particularly, you can find its legal basis below. The text contains links to legal references and institutions which you can address further questions to. The content of the manual is a simplification. When in doubt, contact us.

1. Who is a councillor?

A councillors is the inhabitant living permanently in the commune. Through the act of vote in general elections, he/she is given a mandate, which is a proxy for performing public functions for the term of the City Council. From that moment, he/she becomes a public official, thanks to which he/she is given a special legal protections, but also an obligation, for instance, in the scope of giving answers on a performed function available to public.

1. Councillors' Rights.

Due to being a public official, the councillors can use his/her protection against:
a. aggravated assault during or connected with performing functions of a councillors, which is to carry out activities belonging to his authority
b. aggravated resistane (using violence or unlawful threat to force the councillor to resign from a given activity/official action)
c. insult

Moreover, the councillor's employment relationship is also specially protected. The employer is obliged to enable the councillor to take active part in the works of the Council and the commission, and the dissolution of the employment relationship requires earlier consent of the Council, if the basis of dissolution is having the mandate of a councillors (does not involve the so-called group redundancy procedures).

The councillor does not receive payment when being absent due to participation in the works of the Council. Allowance will be compensate the lost payment. The councillor is also entitled to the reimbursement of expenses on business trips.

Councillors may (according to the rules stated in the Lublin City Statute) associate themselves into clubs defining political programmes, showing their course of action.

The rights of councillors have been exhaustively given in the Lublin City Statute. Councillors may address a question to the mayor (written questions in key cases which they are given answers for in 21 days) as well as questions concerning current affairs (expressed orally during a session).

In cases involving expertise knowledge, commissions are allowed to put forward a motion to appoint experts or consultative bodies. Commissions may use the advice, opinions and expert opinions in the area connected with a given subject. In practice, people representing departments and institutions connected with a given case are invited for each session of the Council to provide essential explanation.

During the works of a commission and during session, councillors make use of previously received materials containing the schedule of a session. Councillors may participate in the sessions of other commissions without the right to vote.

3. Councillor duties.

The councillor carries out duties and comes into right after swearing an oath on the first session of the Council ("Faithful to the Polish Constitution, I hereby solemnly swear to perform my duties as a councillor proudly, diligently and honestly, having in mind the common good of my commune and its inhabitants").

"The councillor represents his electors, maintains a constant bond with inhabitants and their organisations. He accepts demands and presents them to commune bodies for examination, however he is not obliged to follow the course of action set by electors.

The councillor is obliged to participate in the works of the Council, commission and other self-government institutions which they have been chosen or designated to (attendance is verified on the basis of the list of attendance).

Councillors cannot do the following when having a mandate:

- a councillor's mandate cannot be used simultaneously with an MP's or senator's mandate, as well as with duties of a Province Governor or vice-Governor and membership in another body of the commune self-government
- the councillor cannot be employed in the commune office where he has a mandate, cannot also be the head of a self-government commune unit in the same commune
- the councillor can neither do any job nor receive donations which would undermine the trust of electors, he/she cannot cite his mandate in connection with additional work or operate a business for his own account or as a partnership
- the councillor cannot operate a business for his own account or as a partnership with the use of commune property where he/she has received a mandate, cannot manage such a business nor be a representative or a proxy of such a company
- the councillor and her/his spouse can neither sit in managing, regulatory and audit authorities nor can he/she be the proxy of a commercial company with participation of commune legal persons or entrepreneurs, which these persons participate in
- the councillor cannot possess a package exceeding 10% of shares of a commercial law company with participation of commune legal persons or entrepreneurs, which these persons participate in
- the councillor is obliged to give a property statement (individual and joint property of spouses) - 30 days from swearing the oath, other - till 30 April for the previous year
- the councillor cannot vote in matters concerning his/her legal interest

2. How can I know that councillors fulfill their duties?

a. ask the councillor

You can do this by meeting with the councillor. Some of them are on duty regularly in the City Hall (the chairperson, deputy chairperson of the City Council). You can contact the councillor through e-mail, leaving the letter in his mailbox in the City Hall. You can also contact him/her through the City Council Office or via mobile (some councillor made their mobile number available in the Public Information Bulleting or on their website).

b. ask for public information

The right of information is a human right. You decide whether you want to make use of it, but nobody can deprive you of it.

The Polish Constitution guarantees access to information on the activity of public authority institutions and people who hold public positions (like councillors). What does it mean? You have access to documents as well as admission to the sessions of the City Council and meetings of commission with the possibility to record voice or video. Do you want to know what a councillor's property statement looks like, what business trips does he/she go on, what do they ask during the session, what allowance does he/she take, how many commissions does he/she participate in and so on? The procedure has been clarified in the Public Information Access Act. A public information is an information concerning the activity of public authority institutions.

If you are not sure whether the desired information is the one you are looking for - just ask. The only outcome is the denial of access to information. Remember that no one can require your first and last name and other personal data from you nor can they require a reason or a way for its use (unless you ask for a processed information). In this procedure, the Administrative Code does not apply. You can form the question in any way you want, the answer will be given in such a way that you desire (written, oral or via e-mail). Denial may only take the form of an administrative decision. You may appeal against such a decision. If you are not given such a decision, the authority responsible is inactive. Then, you may pursue your rights in the administrative court.

If you are interested in access to public information, judicature or you need support in this area, you may turn to Citizen Network – Watchdog Poland (Local Citizen Group Leaders Association).

c. come to the open meeting of the commission and the session of the City Council

You can meet the councillors during commission meetings, which usually take place from Monday to Wednesday in the last week of a month. Check the dates of meetings of particular commissions beforehand in the Public Information Bulletin, because particular dates may change. If you do not find such an information, ask for it in the Resident Service Bureau or directly in the City Council Office. You can meet the councillor during the session of the City Council, which takes place on Thursday in the last week of a month (according to the plan of the City Council).

Individual cases considered during the session of the City Council are first directed for examination at meetings of particular commissions. There, an analysis is performed over them, for which there is often no time during the session. Commission put forward their motions during the sessions, not giving details of a given case.

In our commune, there are no citizen hearing institutions. If you want to make a presentation or put forward an important case on the City Council or commission forum, ask a councillor to let you speak on your behalf.

You can stay anonymous during the meeting of a commission or the session of the City Council. You are not required to give your personal data, sign up on the attendance list or give reason why you are on such a list. Audio or video recording does not require prior consent.

Kinga Kulik -
Piotr Skrzypczak -

Translation into English: Paweł Tutka

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