We have adopted a Petition Scheme to make local decision making in relation to petitions more transparent and to make our response to petitions publicly available.
We welcome petitions and recognises that petitions are one way in which people can let us know their concerns.
Why have a Petition Scheme?
The purpose of this Petition Scheme is to make local decision making, in relation to petitions, more transparent and make the response to petitions publicly available.
The Council will treat something as a petition if it is identified as being a petition, or if it seems that it is intended to be a petition.
Submission of a Petition
To be a valid petition and trigger a response under the Petition Scheme the petition must:
- Have a clear and concise statement requesting that the Council take action, or cease taking action, with regard to a particular issue. The statement must be included on the top of each and every page which contains signatures to the petition
- Obtain a minimum of 50 valid signatories. Include the name, address and signature of any person supporting the petition (any person signing the petition must verify that they live, work or study within the Council's area).
- Not be vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate to be dealt with.
- Not relate to matters excluded from the Petition Scheme. These include any matter relating to individual planning or licensing decisions or any other matter relating to an individual or entity, for which other established processes exist i.e. the right of appeal or recourse to a review.
- Not be one made under any other legislation, for example requesting a referendum on having an elected Mayor.
- Use the Council's e-Petitions facility if online.
We have created an example pro forma to assist you.
How can I submit a Petition?
A petition must be signed by at least fifty people and anyone who signs should live, work or study in the Council's area.
Petitions can be submitted to the Council in the following ways:
- On paper - please send any paper petitions to - Head of Member Services, Preston City Council, Town Hall, Preston, PR1 2RL or you can email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Electronically by email (for this method of submission to be used, each sheet of
signatures must be scanned in full as an exact replica of the original. The original petition must be retained by the Petition Organiser)
- Electronically through the Council's e-Petition facility.
You can submit an online petition using our e-Petitions facility.
What happens next?
Where a petition complies with the above requirements and the petition relates to a function of the Council it will be classified as an 'active petition'.
Please note that upon the receipt of an active petition details will be sent to the relevant Ward Councillors to which the petition refers. The Ward Councillors may assist the officer dealing with the petition due to their knowledge of the ward.
Petitions should be accompanied by contact details, including a name and address for the Petition Organiser. This is the person the Council will contact to explain how it will respond to the petition. If the petition does not identify a Petition Organiser, the Council will contact signatories to the petition to agree who should act as the Petition Organiser.
Please note that in the period immediately before an election or referendum, the Council may need to deal with your petition differently. If this is the case the Council will explain the reasons and discuss the revised timescale which will apply.
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, it will write to the Petition Organiser to explain the reasons.
If the petition does not relate to a function of the Council, the Council will explain this in the acknowledgement to the petition and may suggest an appropriate body to which it should be submitted to.
The Council will not take action on any petition which it considers to be vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate. The decision will be taken by the Council's Director of Corporate Services.
To ensure the Council understands the level of local support for a petition, it reserves the right to seek to verify each signatory to the petition. This can be significant when establishing whether an active petition has obtained the requisite number of signatures to trigger specific processes.
You may wish to create and submit a petition using the Council's online e-Petitions facility.
An e-petition follows the same guidelines as a paper petition (as set out above).
A Petition Organiser will need to provide their name, address and email address and will also need to decide how long they would like the e-petition to be open for signing. The maximum time that can be requested is six months.
The first stage in the e-petition process is to submit a request for an e-petition to be opened for signatures. The request will be considered to ensure that the content of the e-petition is suitable before it is made available for the public to sign.
The Petition Organiser will be informed via email within five working days as to whether the request has been successful or not. If it is felt that the Council cannot publish the petition online, the reason will be notified to the Petition Organiser.
The Petition Organiser may then change the contents and re-submit the petition should they so wish.
If the request is accepted the e-petition will 'go live' on the Council's website and will be 'open' for public signatures for the specified time. Anyone who would like to sign an e-petition must first register as a user to ensure they meet the criteria for signatories i.e. live, work or study.
It is possible to run a paper petition and e-petition simultaneously, with both sets of signatures being added together for a total number. However, duplicate signatures will be disregarded.
When an e-petition has closed for signing, the number of signatories will be tallied. Provided that the e-petition has at least 50 valid signatories the Council will respond to the Petition Organiser as set out below.
How will the Council respond to petitions?
The Petition Organiser of a valid petition will be sent a written acknowledgement of the petition within 10 working days of its receipt or the closure of an e-petition. It will let the Petition Organiser know what the Council plans to do with the petition and when they can expect to hear from the Council again.
Where a petition is received which affects a particular ward(s) the Council will notify the Ward Councillors of the petition.
If the petition is an active petition the Council will also notify the Petition Organiser, in writing, within 20 working days of receipt of the petition or the closure of an e-petition, of the steps (see below) the Council has taken or proposes to take in response to the petition and its reasons for doing so.
It will publish the written notification on the Council's website unless the Council considers that it would be inappropriate to do so (the contact details of the Petition Organiser will not be displayed).
Please note that the written response described in the paragraph above may be included in the written acknowledgement of the petition (i.e. in a single document).
Depending on what a petition asks for and how many people have signed it, the steps that Directors, or their representatives, may take or propose to take may include one or more of the following:
- Taking the action requested in the petition;
- Consider the petition at a Council meeting;
- Hold an inquiry;
- Hold a public meeting;
- Undertake research;
- Write to the Petition Organiser setting out the Council's views about the request in the petition; and
- Refer the petition for consideration by the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee (this Committee is responsible for scrutinising he work of the Council and holding the Council's Executive to account).
Full Council Debates
If an active petition contains more than 1350 signatures it will be debated by the full Council.
This means that the issue raised in the petition will be discussed at a meeting of all elected Members. The Council will endeavour to consider the petition at its first meeting following the receipt of the petition, although where this is not possible or appropriate, consideration will take place at the following meeting.
The Petition Organiser will be notified in writing of the date and time of the Council meeting in which the petition is to be debated. The Petition Organiser or someone nominated on his or her behalf will be given the opportunity to speak about the petition at the Council meeting, normally for up to 5 minutes. It will then be debated by the Council.
The maximum time allocated for Councillors to debate petitions will be 30 minutes although this may be extended at the discretion of the Mayor.
The Council will decide how to respond to the petition at the meeting. The Petition Organiser will receive written confirmation of the Council's decision. The confirmation will also be published on the Council's website.
Reviewing the Results
Where the Petition Organiser of an active petition receives written notification of the steps that the Council has taken or proposes to take he or she has the right to request that the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee reviews the adequacy of those steps.
The request for review must be made in writing within 30 days starting from the date of the written notification. It is helpful to everyone and can improve the prospects of a review if the Petition Organiser gives a short explanation of the reasons why the Council's decision is not considered to be adequate.
The Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee will endeavour to consider the review at its first meeting following the request, however, where this is not possible or appropriate, consideration will take place at the following meeting.
Once the review has been considered the Petition Organiser will be informed of the results within 5 working days. The results of the review will also be published on the Council's website unless it considers it would be inappropriate to do so.
Petitions with under 50 Signatures
Petitions within the category will be considered as part of the Council's Complaints Procedure.