A petition is a written request for Nottinghamshire County Council to consider a particular matter or to take a course of action. A petition can lend weight to a particular viewpoint and demonstrate that a view is shared by others. Petitions can be co-ordinated by individuals or by local organisations.
Anyone who lives, works or studies in the local authority area, including under 18s, can sign or organise a petition for submission to the Council.
To send us a paper petition you should contact your County Councillor to act as your representative to present the petition to a meeting of the Full County Council. Your County Councillor will talk you through the process for submitting the petitions. A Petition template [Word] template is available.
The petition should be handed over to your County Councillor at least 2 working days before the meeting that you would like it presenting at. View the calendar of upcoming council meetings.
Guidelines for petitions
Petitions submitted to the Council must include a clear and concise statement covering the subject of the petition. The petition should state:
- what action the petitioners wish the Council to take
- the name, post code and signature of any person supporting the petition
If the petition applies to a planning or licensing application, is a statutory petition (for example requesting a referendum on having an elected mayor), or on a matter where there is already an existing right of appeal, such as council tax banding and non-domestic rates, other procedures apply.
If the petition concerns proposals contained within the Council's Budget consultation process then this should be sent to the relevant contact named within the Budget consultation documents
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 in this scheme, the Council may decide not to do anything further with it. In that case, we will write to you to explain the reasons.
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.
Your petition must be signed by at least one other person from a different address and everyone signing the petition must provide their name, post code and signature. This information may be checked by the County Council.
Petitions should be about issues that affect the communities of Nottinghamshire and can be resolved within Nottinghamshire. People signing a petition should be affected by the subject matter of the petition.
If your petition is too urgent to wait until the next meeting of County Council or you prefer, you can send it to the Chief Executive at County Hall, who will ensure it is directed to the most appropriate Corporate Director for consideration. Receipt of the petition will be acknowledged by the Chief Executive’s Office to the petition organiser and to your County Councillor.
After a petition has been presented
Your local elected Member will formally present the petition in public at a meeting of the County Council. The petition will then be passed to the appropriate person to provide a response. View a flowchart showing the process a petition goes through [PDF].
So that you know how this is progressing we will send an acknowledgement 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.
After the petition has been presented to the County Council, your County Councillor will be able to request a meeting to discuss how the petition will be acted on. This provides the Councillor acting on your behalf an opportunity to discuss the petition in more detail with the person expected to respond. You may wish to talk to your Councillor about this meeting and could ask to attend.
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 are published on our website, except in cases where this would be inappropriate. Whenever possible we also publish all correspondence relating to the petition (all personal details will be removed).
Our response to a petition will depend on what a petition asks for (and how many people have signed it). 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. For every petition the response will be made public and reported to a meeting of the full County Council – You will also be able to find it on our website.
In responding we 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 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 our views about the request in the petition
In addition to these steps, the Council will consider all the specific actions it can potentially take on the issues highlighted in a petition. This could include raising the matter with our partners and asking them to act on the petition.
Because a petition could be signed by thousands of people we will respond to the petition organiser and we would invite them to share the response with those signing the petition. We will also place the response on the internet for all to see.
Where the person providing a response does not think that they will be able to take the action requested in the petition they will share their response with all of the County Councillors for your area through a Members Forum. The County Councillors will have the opportunity to explore other possible actions before the response is finalised. Where a petition is of importance across the whole of Nottinghamshire a special Member Forum may be called to undertake this role.
There are also two special actions that the County Council will undertake if your petition has enough signatures: triggering a council debate or a senior officer giving evidence on a matter. In these circumstances 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.
Full council debates
If a petition contains 5% of the electorate in Nottinghamshire (approximately 38,000 signatories) it will be debated by the Full Council - unless it is a petition asking for a senior council officer 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 up to five minutes to present the petition at the meeting and the petition will then be discussed by councillors. This will usually be for a maximum of 15 minutes, however this may be extended at the discretion of the Chairman.
Responding to petitions
The Council will decide how to respond to the petition at this meeting. They may decide to take the action the petition requests, ask the appropriate body to take the action requested, 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.
Your petition may ask for a senior council officer to give evidence at a public meeting about something for which they are responsible. For example, your petition may ask a senior council officer to explain progress on an issue or why a service is delivered in a particular way
Your petition should contain at least 2,500 signatures - which is approximately 0.5% of the electorate in Nottinghamshire - and identify the senior officer that you wish to give evidence. Upon receipt of your petition it will be passed to the Chair of the Overview Committee who will arrange for it to be considered by the most appropriate overview and scrutiny committee.
The County Council’s constitution identifies the level of officer that overview and scrutiny committees can request to attend to provide evidence (unaccompanied) and the petition should identify one of these officers who manage services provided to the public. The overview and scrutiny committee can also consider requests for senior officers from our Partners such as the Primary Care Trusts or executive councillors to give evidence.
The overview and scrutiny committee may decide that it would be more appropriate for another individual to give evidence instead of any officer named in the petition – for instance if the named officer has changed jobs. Committee members will ask the questions at this meeting, but you will be able to suggest questions to the chair of the committee by contacting up to five working days before the meeting.