We welcome petitions, and recognise that they are a way in which people can let us know their concerns.
We maintain a petition scheme (introduced in 2009 with the implementation of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act), which aims to help reinvigorate local democracy by putting local authorities at the forefront of the drive to reconnect people with public decision-making. The scheme sets out the format of a petition, the way we would receive a petition, the format of debates, and the number of signatures required to trigger different types of response.
The Localism Act 2011 repealed the legislation which requires councils to have a Petition Scheme, however we decided to keep our scheme.
Creating a petition
Petitions should be sent to:
If you would like to create and submit a petition, you may find this petition template [pdf document] useful.
Full petition scheme [pdf document]
What are the guidelines for submitting a petition?
Petitions submitted must include:
- a clear and concise statement covering the subject of the petition. It should also state what action the petitioners would like us to take
- the name, address and signature of any person supporting the petition
Petitions should be accompanied by contact details, including an address, for the Petition Organiser. This is the person we will contact to explain how we will respond to the petition. The contact details of the Petition Organiser will not be placed on the website. If the petition does not identify a Petition Organiser, where possible we will contact signatories to the petition to agree who should act as the Petition Organiser, however if we are unable to establish a Petition Organiser we may regard the petition as invalid.
Petitions which are considered to be vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate will not be accepted. In the period immediately before an election or referendum we may need to deal with your petition differently - if this is the case we will explain the reasons and discuss the revised timescale which will apply. If a petition does not follow the guidelines set out above, we may decide not to do anything further with it. In that case, we will write to you to explain the reasons.
What will you do when you receive my petition?
An acknowledgement will be sent to the Petition Organiser within 10 working days of receiving the petition. It will let them know what we plan to do with the petition and when they can expect to hear from us again.
If we can do what your petition asks for, the acknowledgement may confirm that we have taken the action requested and the petition will be closed. If the petition has enough signatures to trigger a council debate, or a senior officer giving evidence, then the acknowledgment will confirm this and tell you when and where the meeting will take place. If the petition needs more investigation, we will tell you the steps we plan to take.
If the petition applies to a planning or licensing application, is a statutory petition (for example requesting a referendum on having an elected mayor), or on a matter where there is already an existing right of appeal, such as council tax banding and non-domestic rates, other procedures apply.
We will not take action on any petition which we consider to be vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate and will explain the reasons for this in our acknowledgement of the petition.
How will you respond to petitions?
Our response to a petition will depend on what a petition asks for and how many people have signed it, but may include one or more of the following:
- taking the action requested in the petition
- considering the petition at a Council meeting
- holding an inquiry into the matter
- undertaking research into the matter
- holding a public meeting
- holding a consultation
- holding a meeting with petitioners
- referring the petition for consideration by the relevant Scrutiny Committee
- calling a referendum
- writing to the Petition Organiser setting out our views about the request in the petition.
In addition to these steps, we will consider all the specific actions it can potentially take on the issues highlighted in a petition.
If your petition is about something over which we have no direct control (for example the local railway or hospital) we will consider making representations on behalf of the community to the relevant body. We work with a large number of local partners and where possible will work with these partners to respond to your petition. If we are not able to do this for any reason (for example, if what the petition calls for conflicts with Council policy), then we will set out the reasons for this to you.
If your petition is about something that a different council is responsible for we will give consideration to what the best method is for responding to it. This might consist of simply forwarding the petition to the other council, but could involve other steps. In any event we will always notify you of the action we have taken.
Full Cabinet debates
If a petition contains more than 1000 signatures it will be debated by the Cabinet. The Cabinet will endeavour to consider the petition at its next meeting, although on some occasions this may not be possible and consideration will then take place at the following meeting. The Petition Organiser will be given five minutes to present the petition at the meeting, and the petition will then be discussed by Members of the Cabinet. The Cabinet will decide how to respond to the petition at this meeting. They may decide to take the action the petition requests, not to take the action requested for reasons put forward in the debate, or to commission further investigation into the matter, for example by a relevant committee. The Petition Organiser will receive written confirmation of this decision.
What can I do if I feel my petition has not been dealt with properly?
If you feel that we have not dealt with your petition properly, the Petition Organiser has the right to request that the appropriate Scrutiny Committee review the steps that the we have taken in response to your petition. It is helpful to everyone, and can improve the prospects for a review, if the Petition Organiser gives a short explanation of the reasons why our response is not considered to be adequate.
The Committee will endeavour to consider your request at its next meeting, although on some occasions this may not be possible and consideration will take place at the following meeting. Should the Committee determine we have not dealt with your petition adequately, it may use any of its powers to deal with the matter. These powers include instigating an investigation, and making recommendations to the Cabinet. Once the appeal has been considered the Petition Organiser will be informed of the outcome within five working days.