Our response to a petition will depend on what it 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 or consultation
• holding a meeting with petitioners
• referring the petition for consideration by the council’s scrutiny committee*
• calling a referendum
• writing to the petition organiser setting out our views about the request in the petition.
*this is a committee of councillors responsible for scrutinising the work of the council – in other words, the scrutiny committee has the power to hold the council’s decision makers to account.
The council will also consider all the specific actions it can potentially take on the issues highlighted in a petition.
If your petition is about something that a different council or body 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. We will always notify you of the action we take.
Portfolio holder response
If a petition is a hard copy and contains 50 or more signatures it can be presented to council, or the most appropriate committee. The petition organiser will be given five minutes to present the petition at the meeting and the relevant portfolio holder, or committee chair, will respond.
If you would like to present your petition to the council or another committee, or would like your councillor or someone else to present it on your behalf, please call 01603 212459 at least 10 working days before the meeting and they will talk you through the process.
Full council debates
If a petition contains more than 1,500 signatures it will be debated by full council unless it is a petition asking for a senior council officer to give evidence at a public meeting.
This means the issue raised in the petition will be discussed at a meeting which all councillors can attend. The council will aim 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 councillors for a maximum of 25 minutes.
The council will decide how to respond to the petition at this meeting. It 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 cabinet is required to make the final decision, the council 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.
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 the advice given to elected members to enable them to make a particular decision.
If your petition contains at least 750 signatures, the relevant senior officer will give evidence at a public meeting of the council’s scrutiny committee. You should be aware that the scrutiny committee might decide it would be more appropriate for another officer to give evidence instead of any officer named in the petition – for example if the named officer has changed jobs.
The committee may also decide to call the relevant councillor to attend the meeting. Committee members will ask the questions at this meeting, but you will also be able to ask a question and be able to suggest questions to the chair of the committee by calling 01603 212029 up to three working days before the meeting.