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Petition guidelines

Guidelines for petitions submitted to us.

Petitions submitted to us must include:
  • a clear and concise statement covering the subject of the petition - it should state what action the petitioners wish the council to take
  • the name and 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, we will contact signatories to the petition to agree who should act as the petition organiser.

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, we may decide not to do anything further with it. In that case, we will write to you to explain the reasons.

If you would like to present your petition to us, or would like your councillor or someone else to present it on your behalf, please contact the director of legal services at least 10 working days before the meeting and they will talk you through the process.

Full council meetings

If you have requested a full council debate and your petition has received 7,500 signatures or more it will be scheduled for a full council debate. If this is the case we will let you know which meeting of the council the petition will be debated. Full council meetings take place on a 6 weekly basis.

This means that the issue raised in the petition will be discussed at a meeting which all councillors can attend. The petition organiser will be given 5 minutes to present the petition at the meeting and the petition will then be discussed by councillors for a maximum of 15 minutes.

We 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.

Where the issue is one on which the council executive are required to make the final decision, we will decide whether to make recommendations to inform that decision. The petition organiser will receive written confirmation of this decision. This confirmation will also be published on our website.

Officer evidence

Your petition may ask for a senior council officer to give evidence at a public meeting about something for which the officer is responsible as part of their job. For example, your petition may ask a senior council officer to explain progress on an issue, or to explain the advice given to elected members to enable them to make a particular decision.

If your petition contains at leas 3,750 signatures, the relevant chief officer (or their nominee) will give evidence at a public meeting of the council’s appropriate improvement and scrutiny committee. Here's a list of the chief officers that can be called to give evidence can be found here:

  • Emma Alexander, strategic director of commissioning, communities and policy
  • Jane Parfrement, strategic director for children's services
  • Joy Hollister, strategic director of adult care
  • Mike Ashworth, strategic director of economy, transport and environment

You should be aware that the improvement and scrutiny committee may decide that it would be more appropriate for another officer to give evidence instead of any officer named in the petition – for instance if the named officer has changed jobs.

The committee may also decide to call the relevant councillor, usually the cabinet member or where appropriate the local councillor, to attend the meeting.

Committee members will ask the questions at this meeting, but you will be able to suggest questions to the chair of the committee by contacting the improvement and scrutiny manager up to 3 working days before the meeting.