Information about petitions

1. Who may submit a petition?
2. What are the guidelines for submitting a petition?
3. What type of petitions are excluded?
4. What will the Council do when it receives my petition?
5. Will my petition be debated at Council?
6. My petition is asking senior staff to provide evidence
7. How do I 'sign' an e-petition?
8. What can I do if I feel my petition has not been dealt with properly?
 


The Council welcomes petitions as an important way in which people can let us know their concerns.

These guidelines apply to all petitions submitted to the Council with 30 or more signatures, except for petitions

  • about a planning or licensing application
  • of a statutory nature, or
  • on a matter where there is already an existing right of appeal (see section 3).

Any petition that contains fewer than 30 signatures, or does not meet these guidelines within the scheme, will be treated as normal correspondence and receive a reply from the relevant member of staff.

e-petitions

Petitions may be created, signed and submitted online through the Council's e-petitions facility (see 'External links'). Further details of the process are set out in our step-by-step guide to creating an e-petition (see 'Related pages').

Paper petitions

Paper petitions can be sent to:

Corporate Governance
Spelthorne Borough Council
Council Offices
Knowle Green
Staines-upon-Thames
TW18 1XB


1. Who may submit a petition?

Anyone who lives, works or studies in Spelthorne may create and submit a petition to Spelthorne Borough Council.

2. What are the guidelines for submitting a petition?

Petitions submitted to the Council must include:

  • a clear and concise statement about the subject of the petition. In the case of a paper petition, every subsequent sheet must state the subject of the petition.
  • the action the petitioners wish the Council to take and
  • 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; these will not be placed on the website. This is the person the Council will contact to explain how we will respond to the petition. 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.

If a petition does not follow the guidelines the Council may decide not to proceed. In that case, we will write to you to explain the reasons.

In the period immediately before an election or referendum we may need to deal with your petition differently - if so we will explain the reasons and discuss any revised timescales.

3. What type of petitions are excluded?

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.

A petition will not be accepted:

  • if it refers to a specific planning or right of way matter;
  • if it refers to a licensing application;
  • if it is a statutory petition (for example requesting a referendum);
  • if it refers to a decision where there is already an existing right of appeal, such as Council Tax banding and non-domestic rates

Further information on how you can express your views is available on the 'Have your say' section of the website.

Where a petition is received on the same or similar topic as one the Council has received in the last six months it will not be treated as a new petition. The Council will include details of its response to the previous petition on the topic, when responding.

Where the Council is still considering a petition on the same or similar topic, the new petition will be amalgamated with the first one.

4. What will the Council do when it receives my petition?

An acknowledgement will be sent to the petition organiser within 10 working days of receiving it. It will let them know what we plan to do with the petition and when they can expect to hear from us again.  On the majority of occasions it will be published on our website.

We will write to the petition organiser at each stage.

Whenever possible we will also publish all correspondence relating to the petition (all personal details will be removed). When you sign an e-petition you can choose to receive this information by e-mail. We will not send you anything which is not relevant to the e-petition you have signed.

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 meeting of the Council, Cabinet or Spelthorne Joint Committee
  • holding an inquiry
  • undertaking research
  • holding a public meeting
  • holding a consultation
  • holding a meeting with petitioners
  • referring the petition for consideration to 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

The type of response the Council provides may be dependent on the number of signatories to the petition. The table below summarises the Council's approach:

Number of signatories - single ward issueNumber of signatories - issue affecting two or more wardsResponse
less than 30less than 30Response from Officer (treated as standard correspondence).

 
30 to 20030 to 300Referred to the Cabinet or Spelthorne Joint Committee if the matter falls within its Terms of Reference.

 
At least 300At least 400Staff to be called to provide evidence at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (see section 6), where such action is requested in the petition.

 
At least 1000At least 4500Debated at a meeting of Council (see section 5).

 

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 member of staff giving evidence, then the acknowledgment will confirm this and tell you when and where the meeting will take place. If the petition needs more investigation, we will tell you the steps we plan to take.

Where the petition is referred to the Cabinet, Spelthorne Joint Committee or Council, the petition organiser will be given three minutes to present the petition at the meeting and the petition will then be discussed by councillors.

If your petition is about something over which the Council has no direct control (for example the local railway or hospital) we will consider making representations on behalf of the community to the relevant body. The Council works with a large number of local partners and where possible will work with these partners to respond to your petition. If we are not able to do this for any reason (for example if what the petition calls for conflicts with Council policy), then we will set out the reasons for this to you. The Council is responsible for these Services.

If your petition is about something that a different council is responsible for we will consider the best way to respond. This might mean we simply forward your petition to the other council, but could involve other steps. In any event we will always notify you of the action we have taken.

5. Will my petition be debated at Council?

If a petition contains more than 4,500 signatures (1,000 for a single ward issue) it will automatically be referred to Council for debate unless it is a petition asking for a senior member of staff to give evidence at the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee (see section 6).

We will contact the petition organiser before the meeting. If the organiser wishes to present the petition at the meeting, confirmation must be given to Committee Services on 01784 446240 at least eight working days before the meeting.

The Council will try 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 three minutes to present the petition at the meeting and the petition will then be discussed by councillors.

The Council will decide how to respond to the petition at this meeting. They may decide to support the action the petition requests, or not, or refer the matter to the Cabinet, Spelthorne Joint Committee or Overview and Scrutiny Committee for further consideration. The petition organiser will receive written confirmation of this decision.

6. My petition is asking senior staff to provide evidence

Your petition may ask for a senior member of staff to give evidence at a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee about something for which the member of staff is responsible as part of their job. For example, your petition may ask a senior member of staff to explain progress on an issue, or to explain the advice given to councillors to enable them to make a particular decision.

If your petition requests such action and contains at least 400 signatures (300 for a single ward issue), the relevant senior member of staff will give evidence at the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Only the Chief Officers and the Deputy Chief Executives can be petitioned to give evidence.

You should be aware that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee may decide that it would be more appropriate for another member of staff to give evidence instead of the person named in the petition - for instance if jobs have changed. The committee may also decide to call the relevant responsible councillor for the matter raised in the petition, to attend the meeting.

Committee members will ask the questions at this meeting, but you will be able to suggest questions to the Chairman of the Committee by contacting Committee Services up to eight working days before the meeting.

7. How do I 'sign' an e-petition?

When you sign an e-petition you will be asked to provide your name, your postcode and a valid e-mail address. When you have submitted this information you will be sent an e-mail to that address. This e-mail will include a link which you must click on in order to confirm it is valid. Once this step is complete your 'signature' will be added to the petition. People visiting the e-petition will be able to see your name in the list of those who have signed it but not your contact details.

A petition acknowledgement and response will be e-mailed to everyone who has signed the e-petition and elected to receive this information. The acknowledgment and response will also be published on this website.

8. 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. It 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 adequate.

The Committee will try to consider your request at its next meeting, although on some occasions this may not be possible and consideration will take place at the following meeting. Should the committee determine we have not dealt with your petition adequately, it may investigate the matter, make recommendations to the Cabinet or Spelthorne Joint Committee or arrange for the matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council.

Once the Committee has completed its review the petition organiser will be informed of the results within five working days. The results of the review will also be published on our website.