Why create a petition?
Petitions are one way of drawing issues of local concern to the attention of the council and other public bodies who work closely with us. Individuals can usually raise comments and complaints about services through their ward councillors or through the council’s comments or complaints system but petitions can be particularly useful in promoting or objecting to proposals or decisions, by providing evidence of the depth of feeling about the issue and the level of local support for, or opposition to, what is being proposed.
Right to sign a petition
The right of an individual to sign a petition is included in Article 3 of the Council’s Constitution. You may sign a petition requesting the council to consider, reconsider or take action on any matter or issue where the council has duties or responsibilities or which affect the borough.
To sign a petition you must live, work or study in Warrington. There is no lower age limit on who can sign a petition but children who sign should do so free from coercion and have a reasonable understanding of the issue.
The council at its meeting on 17 May 2010 adopted a formal petitions scheme within the constitution which sets out how petitions will be dealt with. The legal requirement for maintaining a petition scheme has been removed but it is considered good practice to operate such a scheme and for it to be refreshed periodically.
How do I create a petition?
Petitioning is one way that individuals, community groups and organisations can take part in the democratic process. If a group of residents are concerned about a council service or decision that is about to be made, they can send the council a petition.
An e-Petition is a petition which collects signatures online. This allows petitions and supporting information to be made available to a potentially much wider audience than a traditional paper based petition.
We'll publish a list of e-petitions here as and when we receive them.
What should the petition include?
For paper based petitions the format is really up to you but as a minimum, the petition 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. It is important to be as clear as possible as to what you are hoping to achieve from the petition and the action that you would like the council to take;
- The name, address and signature of any person supporting the petition.
- Details of the petition organiser (this will be the person that the council will use as a contact point for the petitioner).
Is there anything which cannot be included in a petition?
Petitions must not relate to:
- Planning decisions;
- Licensing decisions;
- Matters for which another right of review or appeal exists;
- Certain statutory petitions (making a statutory demand for payment of a debt); and
- Vexatious, abusive or inappropriate matters.
In the case of the first three bullet points, a systematic failure to deliver those services could still be the subject of a petition.
How do I submit a completed petition?
You will need to include with your petition your name, address, signature and telephone number or contact details.
Paper based petitions can be submitted:
- By post to the Director of Law and Governance, Warrington Borough Council, Town Hall, Sankey Street, Warrington, WA1 1UH
- Or by email (If scanned into an electronic format): email@example.com
- In person: at Contact Warrington, the Town Hall or New Town House receptions (during normal office hours)
What will happen next?
When a completed petition has been received the organiser of the petition will receive an acknowledgement within 10 working days and the local ward councillors will be informed as and when appropriate. The acknowledgement will usually inform the petition organiser of the action that the council will take with regards to the petition which is often determined by what the petition is asking for and are set out below:
- For a petition to receive a response from the council it must receive 100 or more valid signatures;
- If the petition receives fewer than 1500 valid signatures it will be referred to the relevant Director and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for their consideration and response;
- If the petition receives over 1500 valid signatures it will be referred to the Monitoring Officer and the Chair of the Audit and Corporate Governance Committee for consideration. It will then be determined where the petition should be considered. This could be any committee of the council or Full Council as and when appropriate;
- All petitions with over 100 valid signatures will be forwarded to the relevant ward councillors as appropriate for their information.
When a petition is referred to a committee of the council, the committee chair will determine what action should be taken and whether the petition should be added to the committee work programme for consideration at a future meeting. Should the petition be considered at committee meeting the petition organiser will be invited to attend and address the committee. The committee will then consider and discuss the petition in order to determine the action that it wishes to take which includes:
- To take no further action relating to the petitioner
- To make a recommendation to the Cabinet
- To recommend that a debate on the petition takes place at Full Council
- To make another recommendation as appropriate.
The council and its partners are committed to engaging with local residents, community groups and businesses in shaping the way that we plan for an provide local services and petitions provide a useful tool for such engagement.
The Audit and Corporate Governance Committee will receive an annual report on petitions at the end of each municipal year. The report provides analysis of the petitions received, the number of signatures, topics for petitions and actions taken. The report is published along with the rest of the papers for the committee five clear working days prior to the date of the meeting at which it will be considered.