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Petitions

Petitions

The council recognises that petitions are one way in which people can let us know their concerns and welcomes petitions from anyone who lives, works, or studies in Wiltshire or who uses the services provided by the council.

The council’s petitions scheme is set out in detail at Part 4A of the Constitution(Link). If you have any queries regarding the scheme please contact committee@wiltshire.gov.uk

All petitions sent or presented to the council will receive an acknowledgement from the council within 2 working days of receipt, and a substantive response of how the council will respond to the petition within 15 working days of receipt. This response will set out what the council plan to do with the petition: our response to a petition will depend on what a petition asks for and how many people have signed it. The petition will also be published on our website

The council will treat something as a petition if it is identified as such, or if it seems that it is intended to be a petition.

If your issue relates to a highways issue in your community area it may be more appropriate to contact your local Community Area Transport Group by reporting your item through the Community Area Transport Group Issue Process.

Petitions in respect of non-determined planning or licensing applications will not be covered by the petitions scheme, and will be referred to the relevant service as formal representations. Petitions in respect of statutory petitions (such as requesting a referendum, or changing the council’s governance arrangements) or on matters with existing right of appeal such as council tax banding and non-domestic rates, are covered by other procedures.

Current petitions:

You can see online/Epetitions that have already been started on our website here.

The full record of recent petitions, including paper petitions, is available here.

What are the Guidelines for Submitting a Petition?

 

In order to be received all petitions must:

 

  • contain the name and contact details of the petition organiser. Only the name of the organiser will be published;
  • contain a clear and concise statement of the concern, and what action the petitioners wish the council to take;
  • be relevant to the role and responsibility of the council;
  • contain at least 10 names or signatures, or at least 25 names or signatures to be reported or presented to Full Council;
  • those names to be accompanied by a postcode and house number for paper petitions, and full address and email address for electronic petitions. Only the name and postcode will be displayed in any council report;
  • Not be defamatory, frivolous, offensive, vexatious, unlawful or otherwise improper
  • Not name or identify individual service users, members of staff or members of staff of partner agencies

What is expected of me if I have organised a petition?

If you have submitted a petition as its organiser you will be expected to be the point of contact with council officers. Your name, but no other details other than postcode, will be published.

If your petition is of sufficient size you will be asked to decide whether or not you wish to have the petition presented or debated, and for communicating as felt appropriate with any signatories.

You will also have the opportunity to address the council at committee meetings if your petition is of sufficient size.

You may nominate another person to undertake these actions if you wish.

Democratic Services will be available to provide advice and assistance on council procedures to any petition organiser.

How will the Council respond to Petitions?

The council’s 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
  • referring the petition to the relevant council department for consideration in consultation with the relevant cabinet member and/or local councillor
  • referring the petition to the relevant Area Board Chairman
  • referring the petition to Council, a Committee or the Cabinet
  • consider the petition as a consultation response if received during a consultation period
  • holding an inquiry into the matter
  • undertaking research into the matter
  • holding a public meeting
  • holding a consultation
  • holding a meeting with petitioners
  • calling a referendum
  • writing to the petition organiser setting out the council’s views about the request in the petition  
  • other suitable action

If more than one petition is received on a similar subject matter the petitions may be considered by the Council as a single matter and taken together.

A petition will not normally be considered where it is received within 6 months of another petition being considered by the authority on the same matter.

If a petition is received immediately before an election or referendum we may need to deal with your petition differently, in which case you will be contacted to discuss the course of action.

Can I present my petition to a council meeting?

Yes you can. If your petition has at least 10 signatures and has been validly received you can request that you formally present the petition at a meeting of Cabinet or to a Committee, including Area Boards. If you wish to present the petition to Full Council you must have at least 25 signatures.

Petition organisers are asked to contact Democratic Services at least ten clear working days before a meeting to ensure that the petition in question is relevant to the remit of the committee. This is to ensure that the appropriate body receives your petition.

You will be able to make a statement when you present your petition.

If you have not yet submitted your petition formally and appear before a committee meeting to do so, this may not be accepted.

Even if already submitted, Democratic Services will return your petition materials for that meeting if you wish to have a photo taken of formally handing over the petition to the council.

Can I have my petition debated at Council meeting?

Yes you can. If your petition has 4500 signatures you may request that Full Council debate your petition. You must request this debate at least 10 working days before a Full Council meeting (dates at this link). This is excluding the council’s budget meeting.

At the meeting you would be given five minutes to present your petition, and two other speakers could do so for three minutes. The Council would then debate the matter for up to 30 minutes.

Please note that many decisions are the responsibility of the Cabinet and not Full Council. Therefore, in those instances you will be given the opportunity to present the petition to a Cabinet meeting, as they would be the decision makers.

If your petition is in relation to a local issue, you can also request that your petition be debated at the relevant Area Board. So long as you have ten signatures you can request of the chairman of that area board that the matter be debated, though a larger petition would be an indication that the matter is of community interest and should be considered for debate.

The structure of a debate at the area board would be set by the chairman.

These are the only council meetings you may request a debate for your petition.

 

What action can I take 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 Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee review the steps that the council has 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 the council’s response is not considered to be adequate. Any such request should be made within twenty working days from the council response to your petition.

 

It is important to emphasise here that the review process is concerned with whether the steps taken by the council in response to the petition were adequate – it is not about whether the decision in responding to the petition was correct.

 

Should the committee determine the council has 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’s cabinet and arranging for the matter to be considered at a meeting of the full council. The outcome of any review would be communicated to your within five working days.

 

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