Petitions

Service information

The 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 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: Democratic Services, Floor 2 Old Town Hall, Blackburn , BB1 7DY

You can also submit petitions via our online petitions service

The Council will respond to all the petitions it receives.  We will be as flexible as we can when handling your petition so that it is considered quickly and in the most appropriate way.

There are three types of petitions:

  • “Ordinary” petitions: these must be signed by at least 6 people
  • Petitions requiring debate: petitions which contain 4,200 signatures or more will be debated by the full council.
  • Petitions to hold council employees to account : petitions which call for evidence from a senior council employee and have at least 2,100 signatures will trigger that response

Who can submit a petition?

Anyone who lives, works or studies in the borough of Blackburn with Darwen.

What are the 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.

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 contact signatories to the petition to agree who should act as the petition organiser.

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.

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 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.

The petition will need to be verified before any action can be taken.  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 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.

Where a person or organisation (or someone on their behalf) has submitted a petition which is the same or substantially the same as one submitted within the previous 12 months, this will not be accepted.

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.

If we decide that a petition is not acceptable then we will let the petition organiser know our reasons.

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. Whenever possible we will also publish all correspondence relating to the petition (all personal details will be removed).

How will the Council respond to petitions?

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 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 a Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee*;
  • calling a referendum;
  • writing to the petition organiser setting out our views about the request in the petition.

*Overview and Scrutiny committees are committees of Councillors who are responsible for scrutinising the work of the Council – in other words,   Overview and Scrutiny committees have the power to hold the Council’s decision makers to account.

In addition to these steps, the Council will consider all the specific actions it can potentially take on the issues highlighted in a petition. Some examples have been given below:

Alcohol related crime and disorder petitions

If your petition is about crime or disorder linked to alcohol consumption, the council will, among other measures, consider the case for placing restrictions on public drinking in the area by establishing a designated public place order or, as a last resort, imposing an alcohol disorder zone. When an alcohol disorder zone is established the licensed premises in the area where alcohol related  trouble is being caused are required to contribute to the costs of extra policing in that area. The council’s response to your petition will set out the steps we intend to take and the reasons for taking this approach.

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) petitions

As the elected representatives of your local area, as social landlord and licensing authority, the council plays a significant role to play in tackling anti-social behaviour.

When responding to petitions on ASB, we will consider in consultation with our local partners, all the options available to us including the wide range of powers and mechanisms we have to intervene as part of our role as social landlord and licensing authority. For example, we will work with the neighbourhood policing team in the affected area to identify what action might be taken including what role CCTV might play, consider identifying a dedicated contact within the council to liaise with the community and neighbourhood partners on issues of ASB in the area in question and, where appropriate, we will alert the crime and disorder reduction partnership and crime and disorder overview and scrutiny committee to the issues highlighted in the petition.

Under-performing schools petitions

We will consider, in consultation with local partners, all the options available to us when working with schools to secure their improvement. For example, on our behalf, the school improvement partner will play a pivotal role, challenging and brokering support for poorly performing schools. Where a school is under performing we will consider whether it is appropriate in the circumstances to issue a warning notice outlining expectations and a timeframe for the school to improve its performance standards. Other measures available to us, where schools fail to comply with a warning notice or are in an Ofsted category of notice to improve (requiring significant improvement) or special measures including; appointing additional governors, establishing an interim executive board, removal of the school’s delegated budgets, requiring the school to enter into a formal contract or partnership or, only if the school is in special measures, closure.

Under-performing health services petitions

We will work with local health partners to consider the matter raised in the petition including, where appropriate, exploring what role the Local Involvement Network (LINk) might have in reviewing and feeding back on the issue (the LINk is run by local individuals and community groups and independently supported – their role to find out what people want in terms of local health services, monitor those services and to use their powers to hold them to account). The health overview and scrutiny committee will also be alerted to the petition and where the matter is sufficiently or potentially serious, the issue will be referred to them to consider for review.

Petitions concerning non Council matters

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. You can find more information on the services for which the council is responsible on this website.

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 more than 4,200 signatures 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 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 5 minutes to present the petition at the meeting and the petition will then be discussed by Councillors for a maximum of 15 minutes. 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.

Officer evidence

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 2,100 signatures, the relevant senior officer will give evidence at a public meeting a Council Overview and Scrutiny committee. A list of the senior staff that can be called to give evidence can be found in the Appendix.  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 Councillor 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 scrutiny@blackburn.gov.uk or 01254 585113 up to three working days before the meeting

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 a Council 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 council 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 5 working days. The results of the review will also be published on our website.

Appendix

  • Chief Executive
  • Deputy Chief Executive
  • Growth Programme Director
  • Director of HR, Legal & Corporate Services
  • Director of Finance & IT
  • Director of Children’s Services
  • Director of Adult Services
  • Director of Environment & Leisure
  • Director of Localities & Prevention
  • Director of Planning & Prosperity
  • Director of Public Health

Contact details

Mail Democratic Services, Floor 2, Town Hall, Blackburn. BB1 7DY
Phone Number(s) 01254 585321
Fax Number(s) 01254 585755
E-mail democraticservices@blackburn.gov.uk
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