What is a petition?

We treat as a petition any communication which is signed by a number of people.  For practical purposes, we normally set a requirement for at least 10 signatures before we treat a communication as a petition.

The Council welcomes petitions and recognises that petitions are one way in which people can let us know their concerns.  Anyone who lives, studies or works in the City Council's area can sign or organise a petition and trigger a response.  All petitions sent or presented to the Council will receive an acknowledgement from the Council within 14 days of receipt.  This acknowledgement will set out what we plan to do with the petition.

Paper petitions can be sent to:

Committee Administration Section

Petitions can also be presented to a meeting of the Council or to a committee meeting.  These meetings take place, dates and times which are on the Council's website  If you would like to present your petition to the Council or to a committee meeting, or would like your Councillor to present it on your behalf, please contact the Council on 01905 722233 and ask for the  Committee Administration Office at least five working days before the meeting and they will talk you through the process.

The following matters are excluded from the Petition Scheme:

  • Any matter relating to a planning decision
  • Any matter relating to a licensing decision
  • Any other matter where there is a right of review or appeal given by legislation

What are the guidelines for submitting a petition?

Petitions submitted to the Council 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, the first name on the petition will be deemed to be the petition organiser.

Petitions which are considered to be vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate will not be accepted.  If a petition does not follow the guidelines set out above, the Council may decide not to do anything further with it.  In that case, we will write to you to explain the reasons.

What will the Council do when it receives my petition?

Petitions handed to the Mayor at a Council meeting or to the Chairman at a committee meeting will be received without comment. As outlined above, petitions may be sent to the Committee Administration office if the petition organiser finds that more convenient than attending a Council or Committee meeting.

An acknowledgement will be sent to the petition organiser within 14 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.  The petition will also be published on our website.

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 acknowledgement will confirm this and tell you when and where the meeting will take place.   A "senior officer" is the Managing Director or a Head of Service. If the petition needs more investigation, we will tell you the steps we plan to take.

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.

To ensure that people know what we are doing in response to the petitions we receive the details of all the petitions submitted to us will be published on our website, except in cases where this would be inappropriate.

How will the Council 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 matterUndertaking research into the matter
  • Holding a public meeting
  • Holding a consultation
  • Holding a meeting with petitioners
  • Referring the petition for consideration by the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee*
  • Calling a referendum
  • Writing to the petition organiser setting out our views about the request in the petition

*    Overview and Scrutiny committees are committees of Councillors who are responsible for scrutinising the work of the Council – in other words, the Overview and Scrutiny committee has the power to hold the Council's decision makers to account.

In addition to these steps, the Council 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 the Council has no direct control (for example the local railway or hospital) we will aim to make representations on behalf of the community to the relevant body.

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.  It might consist of simply forwarding the petition to the other Council.

Full Council debates

If a petition contains more than 4,500 signatures it will be debated by the full Council unless it is a petition asking for a senior council officer (as defined above) to give evidence at a public meeting.  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 five minutes to present the petition at the meeting and the petition will then be discussed by Councillors for a maximum of 15 minutes.  The Council 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.  This confirmation will also be published on our website.

Officer evidence

Your petition may ask for the Managing Director or a Head of Service to give evidence at a public meeting about something for which the officer is responsible as part of their job.

If your petition contains at least 2,250 signatures, the relevant officer will give evidence at a public meeting of the Council's Overview and Scrutiny committee.  You should be aware that the Overview 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.  You will not be permitted to ask questions at the meeting, although you may submit questions to the Chairman of the meeting at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting which you would like him or her to consider asking. Committee members will ask the questions at this meeting.

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 Council's Overview and Scrutiny committee review the steps that the Council has taken in response to your petition.

The Committee will normally consider your request within 30 days of receiving it.  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, making recommendations to the Council executive and arranging for the matter to be considered at a meeting of the full Council.

Once the appeal has been considered the petition organiser will be informed of the results within seven days.  The results of the review will also be published on our website.