Petitions - information and advice
We welcome petitions and recognise that they are one way in which people can let us know their concerns. Anyone who lives, works or studies in North Yorkshire, including under 18's, can sign or organise a petition and trigger a response.
All petitions sent or presented to us will be acknowledged within 10 working days of receipt. This 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 of any size may be sent to:
Assistant chief executive (legal and democratic services)
North Yorkshire County Council
Alternatively scanned copies may be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidelines for submitting a petition
Petitions submitted must include:
- A clear and concise statement about the subject of the petition;
- A statement of what action the petitioners wish us to take;
- The name and address (including postcode) and signature of any person supporting the petition;
- Contact details, including an address, for the petition organiser;
- A fair processing notice as required by the data protection act legislation, explaining to people that the personal details they provide in connection with the petition will only be shared with the petition organiser, the county council. An example is suggested in the data protection section below.
We will contact the petition organiser(s) 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.
The determination of whether a petition is vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate for a response, will be carried out by the chief executive officer in consultation with the chairman of the council.
In the period immediately before an election or referendum we may need to deal with a 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, we may decide not to do anything further with it. In that case, we will write to you to explain the reasons.
You can email email@example.com if you have any queries around petitions.
When a petition is received
An acknowledgement will be sent to the petition organiser(s) 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. Its receipt will also be published on our website.
If we can do what the 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, it will trigger either:
- A debate at the relevant area committee; or
- A debate at county council; or
- A senior officer giving evidence at a meeting of the relevant overview and scrutiny committee.
The acknowledgment will confirm which is the appropriate course of action and tell you when and where, if appropriate, any 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 application, is a statutory petition (for example requesting a referendum on having an elected mayor), or is about a matter where there is already an existing right of appeal, other procedures will apply. Where a petition relates to a planning application, it will be treated as 'letters of representation' and be part of the 'letters of representation process'.
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. Whenever possible we will also publish all correspondence relating to the petition (all personal details will be removed).
How we will respond to petitions
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 relevant area committee meeting;
- Considering the petition at county council;
- Undertaking research into the matter - options including meeting with lead petitioners, or holding a public meeting;
- Referring the petition for consideration by a county council overview and scrutiny committee*;
- Writing to the petition organiser setting out our views about the request in the petition.
*Overview and scrutiny committees are committees of county councillors who are responsible for scrutinising the work of the council. The overview and scrutiny committees have the power to hold the county council's decision makers to account.
In addition to these steps, the we will consider all the specific actions we can potentially take on the issues highlighted in a petition.
If the petition is about something over which we have no direct control (for example the local railway or hospital) we will consider making representations on behalf of the community to the relevant body. We work work 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 county council policy), then we will set out the reasons for this to you. You can find out more about the services we are responsible for here.
If the petition is about something that a different council is responsible for, we will consider the best method for responding to it. This might consist of simply forwarding the petition to the relevant council, but it could involve other steps. In any event we will always notify you of the action we have taken.
How a petition is debated
Petitions supported by a significant proportion of people from a district area or the county council area as a whole will be presented to a meeting of the relevant area committee or to the county council for debate, depending upon the number of signatories, and whether it relates to a matter of concern to a particular locality or a matter of county-wide interest. If your petition contains signatures from 1% or more, of the district population, it will be scheduled for debate at the next meeting of the appropriate area committee. The number of signatures for each district area is as follows:
- Craven - 555
- Hambleton - 897
- Harrogate - 1586
- Richmondshire - 539
- Ryedale - 501
- Yorkshire Coast & Moors - 1086
- Selby - 841
If there is the equivalent of 5% (30,130) of the county wide population as signatories, the petition will be scheduled for a county council debate.
Area committees usually take place 4 times a year and county council takes place quarterly. Dates and times may be found here.
If a petition meets the threshold for debate at area committee and the petition organiser would like to introduce the petition at to the next meeting of the relevant area committee, or county council, or if the petition organiser would like the local county councillor or someone else to present it on their behalf, contact should be made with democratic services on 01609 532591, at least 10 working days before the meeting and the process will be explained.
Following receipt, we will endeavour to consider the petition at the next appropriate meeting, although on some occasions this may not be possible and consideration will then take place at the following meeting.
At the meeting the petition organiser will be given five minutes to present the petition and the petition will then be discussed by county councillors for a maximum of 15 minutes. The county 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,
- to commission further investigation into the matter, for example by a relevant committee.
- Where the issue is one on which the county council executive are required to make the final decision, the county council will decide whether to make recommendations to inform that decision.
The petition organiser will receive written confirmation of this decision and this confirmation will also be published on our website.