How to submit a petition to the Council
How to submit a petition
Fenland District Council welcomes petitions and recognises that petitions are one way in which people can let us know their concerns. All petitions sent or presented to the Council will receive an acknowledgement from the Council within 10 working days of receipt. This acknowledgement will set out what we plan to do with the petition. We will treat something as a petition if it is identified as being a petition, or if it seems to us that it is intended to be a petition.
Paper petitions can be sent to: Fenland District Council, Fenland Hall, County Road, March, Cambridgeshire, PE15 8NQ.
You can submit an e-petition online (see section below). They can also be presented to a meeting of the Council, which take place 7 times a year.
If you would like to present your petition to the Council, or would like your councillor or someone else to present it on your behalf, please contact Member Services on 01354 622357 at least 10 working days before the meeting and they will talk you through the process. If your petition has received 500 signatures or more, it will also be scheduled for a Council debate. If this is the case we will let you know whether this will happen at the same meeting, or a subsequent meeting. Deadlines for receipt of petitions containing 500 signatures or more requiring debate at Council are required at least 10 working days in advance of the meeting. If a petition is received less than 10 working days before a Council meeting, the petition will be debated at the following Council meeting.
Guidelines for submitting a petition
Petitions submitted to the Council 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
- the name and address and signature of any person supporting the petition who lives, works or studies in Fenland
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.
The contact details of the petition organiser will not be placed on the website. If the petition does not identify a petition organiser, we will publish the response on our website.
Petitions which are considered to be vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate will not be accepted. In the period immediately before an election or referendum we may need to deal with your petition differently - if this is the case we 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, we will write to you to explain the reasons.
After we receive a petition
An acknowledgement will be sent to the petition organiser within 10 working 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. It will also be published on our website.
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 (500) to trigger a Council debate, or a senior officer 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.
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. Further information on all these procedures and how you can express your views is available here:
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.
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 will be published on our website, except in cases where this would be inappropriate. The outcome of the petition will be published on our website. When you sign an e-petition you can elect to receive this information by email. We will not send you anything which is not relevant to the e-petition you have signed, unless you choose to receive other emails from us.
How we respond to petitions
Our response to a petition will depend on what a petition asks for and how many people have signed it. It 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
- referring the petition for consideration by one of the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committees. Overview and Scrutiny Committees are committees of councillors who are responsible for scrutinising the work of the Council. They have the power to hold the Council's decision makers to account
- 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.
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.
Our website holds details of the services that we are responsible for.
If your petition is about something that a different Council is responsible for, we will give consideration to what the best method is for responding to it. This might consist of simply forwarding the petition to the other council, but could involve other steps. In any event we will always notify you of the action we have taken.
Full Council debates
If a petition contains 500 signatures or more, 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 of the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
This means that the issue raised in the petition will be discussed at a meeting which all councillors can attend. The Council will endeavour 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 five (5) minutes to present the petition at the meeting and the petition will then be discussed by councillors for a maximum of 15 minutes (unless such time is extended by majority vote of the Council).
The Council will decide how to respond to the petition at this meeting. They may decide to take the action the petition requests, 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. Where the issue is one on which the Council Executive are required to make the final decision, the Council will decide whether to make recommendations to inform that decision. 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 the officer is responsible as part of their job. For example, your petition may ask a Senior Council Officer to explain progress on an issue, or to explain the advice given to elected members to enable them to make a particular decision.
If your petition contains at least 500 signatures, the relevant senior officer will give evidence at a public meeting of the Council's relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee. You should be aware that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee may decide that it would be more appropriate for another officer to give evidence instead of any officer named in the petition - for instance if the named officer has changed jobs. The committee may also decide to call the relevant Cabinet Member to attend the meeting. 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 Member Services up to three (3) working days before the meeting.
The council welcomes e-petitions which are created and submitted through our website. To create, sign or just view e-petitions, visit our E-Petitions page. E-petitions must follow the same guidelines as paper petitions i.e. it must contain at least 500 signatures to lead to a full Council debate or contain at least 500 signatures and name a Senior Council Officer in order to result in the Senior Council Officer giving evidence at a public Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting. Petitions containing less than 500 signatures may result in one of the responses outlined above. The petition organiser will need to provide us with their name, postal address and email address. You will also need to decide how long you would like your petition to be open for signatures. Most petitions run for six months, but you can choose a shorter or longer timeframe, up to a maximum of 12 months.
When you create an e-petition, it may take five (5) working days before it is published online. This is because we have to check that the content of your petition is suitable before it is made available for signature.
If we feel we cannot publish your petition for any reason, we will contact you within this time to explain. You will be able to change and resubmit your petition if you wish. If you do not do this within ten (10) working days, a summary of the petition and the reason why it has not been accepted will be published under the 'Rejected Petitions' section of the website.
When an e-petition has closed for signatures, it will automatically be submitted to Member Services. In the same way as a paper petition, you will receive an acknowledgement within ten (10) working days. If you would like to present your e-petition to a meeting of the Council, please contact Member Services within ten (10) working days of receipt of the acknowledgement.
A petition acknowledgement and response will be emailed 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.
How to 'sign' an e-petition
You will be able to see all the e-petitions currently available for signature.
When you sign an e-petition you will be asked to provide your name, your postcode and a valid email address. When you have submitted this information you will be sent an email to the email address you have provided. This email will include a link which you must click on in order to confirm the email address 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 your contact details will not be visible.
If you feel that your 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 relevant Overview and Scrutiny 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.
The Committee will endeavour 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 use any of its powers to deal with the matter. These powers include instigating an investigation, making recommendations to the Executive and arranging for the matter to be considered at a meeting of the full Council.
Once the appeal has been considered the petition organiser will be informed of the results within five (5) working days. The results of the review will also be published on our website.