Petitions Guidance - Terms and Conditions

 

These Terms and Conditions form the City Council Petitions Scheme which will be reviewed on an annual basis and may be amended from time to time.

Petitioning is one way that individuals, community groups and organisations can participate in the democratic process, by raising issues of public concern with the Council and allowing Councillors to consider the need for change either within the City or on a wider scale.

In addition to paper petitions, Birmingham City Council offers an online petitioning service so you can publish and collect signatures on your petition through this website. This means that the petition can be made available to a potentially much wider audience giving you the opportunity to gather names in support.

What can a petition achieve?

Petitions sent in to the Council can have positive outcomes that lead to change or inform debate.

For example, petitions can:

  • bring an issue to the attention of the Council, for example, traffic calming measures, a new public swimming pool or the need for additional street lighting;
  • show strong public approval or disapproval to something that the Council is doing.

[back to top]

What issues can a petition relate to?

Petitions should be relevant to a matter over which the Council has powers or duties. Refer to the constitution at www.birmingham.gov.uk/constitution.

[back to top]

Can I raise a petition?

To raise a petition you should be an interested party who either lives, works or studies in the authority's area.

[back to top]

Who is the lead petitioner?

The person who raises the petition is known as the lead petitioner and is often the first signatory to sign the petition.

[back to top]

Can I sign a petition?

People signing petitions (signatories) do not have to be residents in Birmingham, but should live, work or study in the authority's area.

[back to top]

How do I start a petition?

For paper petitions generally you and other key petitioners will gather signatures until a date you have decided in advance. You may wish to contact the Council to check if your petition's content is acceptable to present at a Council meeting.

To produce an e-petition, you must complete the online form and submit it to the Council. You will then be contacted to check your contact details. You may also be asked to explain some of the petition's information. The Council will then organise for the petition to be published online.

You can run an online petition at the same time as a paper petition, combining the two before submitting them to the Council. Some people prefer this option as they find it easier to have one they can hand around to friends and family.

[back to top]

What should my petition contain?

A petition should include a brief title and a short, clear and concise statement covering the subject of the petition. It should clearly state what action the petitioner wishes the Council to take. The petition will be returned to you to explain further if it is unclear.

In order for the petition to be considered.

Paper petitions must clearly display:

  • the title/subject of the petition;
  • the lead petitioner's/organiser's contact address (which we will write to about the petition);
  • the name, address and signature of anyone supporting the petition.

E-petitions must follow the e-petitions online form and must clearly display:

  • the title/subject of the petition;
  • the lead petitioner's contact address (which we will write to about the petition);
  • the name and address of any person supporting the petition;
  • the starting and closing date of the petition.  Please note that the petition will stop collecting signatures at midnight on the night before the closing date set.
  • whether there is a paper petition collecting signatures in conjuction with the e-petition.

The contact details of the lead petitioner are essential. For e-petitions, although the name and address of any person supporting the petition is required for checking purposes, only the name and area will be displayed publicly

A petition must be submitted in good faith. You must not include:

  • potentially libellous, false or defamatory statements;
  • matters which are subject to prescribed statutory requirements, such as changes to governance arrangements e.g. an elected mayor;
  • information protected by a court order (e.g. the identities of children in custody disputes); or in accordance with any other enactment;
  • matters which are subject to appeal processes or legal actions (e.g. planning appeals, enforcement action or other legal actions in court etc);
  • material which is commercially sensitive, confidential or which may cause personal distress or loss;
  • the names of individual officials of public bodies;
  • the names of individuals, or information where they may be easily identified, in relation to criminal accusations.

Once submitted Birmingham City Council will endeavour to approve e-petitions within 3-5 working days. Lead petitioners are advised to take this timeframe into account before proceeding.

Once the petition has been accepted it will become a public document accessible via the website. You should take care not to include any information or signatures that should not be made public.

Petitions that do not follow these guidelines will not be accepted. In these cases, you will be informed in writing of the reasons why a petition cannot be accepted. If you are not satisfied with the reason for your petition being rejected the matter can be further considered by the  Director of Legal and Democratic Services.

In the six weeks before an election local authorities cannot publish any material which may support any political party or a point of view which may be associated with any political party.

[back to top]

Promoting the e-petition

As with paper petitions, the responsibility for publicising the e-petition lies with the petition organiser (lead petitioner).

[back to top]

What happens once the signatures have been collected?

The lead petitioner should decide when he or she has collected sufficient names and submit it to the Council for consideration.

For e-petitions, the lead petitioner should set a closing date. Once that closing date has been reached, the lead petitioner should then arrange for it to be submitted as appropriate, through the online e-petitioning service.

Lead petitioners may wish to set their petition's time limit to coincide with a particular City Council meeting. Council meeting pages at www.birmingham.gov.uk/democracy .

[back to top]

What is the process for submitting the petition?

As soon as the closing date is reached the lead petitioner must ensure its final submission to the Council. If a petition is not submitted within 6 months of its closing date an email alert will be sent to the lead petitioner prior to the petition being archived.

Lead petitioners may wish to set their petition's time limit so that it is finished in time for a particular Council meeting (e.g. Full Council, Constituency/Ward Committee meeting).

If you are running a paper petition along side an e-petition, both parts of the petitions must be received by the Council before they can be submitted for consideration. In these circumstances the corresponding paper petition should be sent to: Democratic Services, The Council Team - Petitions, Room 315, Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BB.

E-petitions will be presented on your behalf to the next available meeting of the City Council.

Paper based petitions can be presented by yourself to a District or Ward Committee meeting or by a Councillor to a meeting of the City Council.  Alternatively, paper petitions can be sent directly to the relevant Department.

Details of Council meetings at www.birmingham.gov.uk/democracy

[back to top]

How many names should be on the petition?

The lead petitioner should decide when he or she has collected sufficient names and submit it to the Council for consideration. The Council has a duty to respond to all petitions.

[back to top]

What happens after the petition is submitted?

Once the petition has been submitted to the Council, it will be referred on to the appropriate service for consideration. 

[back to top]

How will the Council respond to my petition?

The 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 authority
  • holding an inquiry
  • holding a public meeting
  • commissioning research
  • writing to the petition organiser setting out the authority's views on the request in the petition
  • referring the petition to an Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

[back to top]

Will the petition be debated at the full City Council meeting?

If the threshold of 20,000 signatures is achieved (subject to verification) this will automatically trigger a debate of the petition at City Council. The lead petitioner will be notified of the date of the meeting.

The lead petitioner will also be offered the option of reading their petition at the beginning of the debate or they may choose to request a local Councillor to present it on their behalf.

[back to top]

Can I refer a petition to an Overview and Scrutiny Committee?

If your petition achieves the threshold of 10,000 signatures (subject to verification) it will be referred to the appropriate Overview and Scrutiny Committee for a Senior Officer to attend and answer questions about the delivering of public services. The final decision on which officer should attend, and the questions to be asked of him or her, rest with the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Overview and Scrutiny Committees can decide that for the purposes of addressing the concerns raised in a petition it is more appropriate for another officer to be called to attend instead.

In addition, in the event that a petition with the number of signatures over 5,000, but below the above threshold trigger, is submitted, it will be considered by the Council Business Management Committee to determine whether an Overview and Scrutiny Committee or City Council should debate the petition, if relevant.

[back to top]

What happens if I feel the response to be inadequate?

If a lead petitioner feels that a response from the Council is inadequate then you can request a review to be carried out by the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The results of the review will be published on the Council's website.

[back to top]

Privacy Statement Relating to E-Petitions 

Your e-petition details will be held in computer readable form to allow the lead petitioner to administer and submit the petition you have signed. Only your name and area will appear on the website. The other details you give are needed by the Council to validate your support. This is the same information required for a paper petition.

Your details will only be used by the Council and the lead petitioner for any petitions that you sign. Your details will not be used for any purposes other than e-petitions, unless you have expressly given permission otherwise.

Personal details will be automatically removed 2 years after the closing date of the e-petition. However, should you wish your name to be removed before this time please contact E-petitions@birmingham.gov.uk .

[back to top]

How can I find out more information?

For more information, please contact:

Democratic Services

Birmingham City Council

Council House

Victoria Square

Birmingham B1 1BB

Telephone: (0121) 675 0216

Email: E-petitions@birmingham.gov.uk

 

[back to top]

Glossary

  • E-Petition - a petition which collects names and addresses online, using the e-petitioner system.
  • Lead Petitioner - the person who initiates the petition and decides when it is to be submitted.
  • Collecting Signatures - an e-petition that is collecting names and addresses online.
  • To be submitted petitions - an e-petition that has finished collecting support online, which has not yet been submitted to the council. 
  • Submitted Petitions - a petition that has been submitted to the council and which they are currently considering.
  • Concluded petitions - a petition that has been submitted to the council, been considered and reached the point where no further action will be taken.

[back to top]