Any person who lives, studies or works in Mole Valley, including under 18s, can sign an existing petition or create one and submit it to us to assess.
Guidelines for submitting a petition
A petition is one which contains at least 50 eligible signatures and:
- is relevant to a matter in relation to which we have powers or duties or which affects the Mole Valley in a material way
- does not relate to a planning or licensing application
- is not directed at an individual
Petitions submitted to us must include:
- a clear and concise statement covering the subject of the petition
- it should state what action the petitioners wish us 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 it 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, the first five signatories of the petition will be contacted to agree who should act as the petition organiser.
In the period immediately before an election or referendum, we may need to deal with your petition differently – if this is the case the reasons will be explained and the revised timescale which will apply discussed.
If a petition does not follow the guidelines set out above, we may decide not to do anything further with it. In that case, you will be written to explain the reasons.
The type of response we provide may be dependent on the number of signatories to the petition:
- Less than 50: Response from an officer (treated as a standard correspondence)
- 50-799: Dealt with by either Cabinet and/or an officer using delegated authority
- at least 800: Debated at a meeting of the council
Providing the petition meets the 50 signature threshold, the Executive Head of Service with responsibility for Democratic Services will decide if the subject matter falls within the delegated authority of the Cabinet or an Officer.
In such a case, the petition will be considered by the Cabinet or an officer.
If the subject matter does not fall within the delegated authority of the Cabinet or an officer, the Executive Head of Service with responsibility for Democratic Services will present the petition to the Council, which will consider the matter and may refer it to the Cabinet for consideration and determination.
If the petition has more than 800 valid signatures, then it will be considered at a meeting of the Council.
If the petition to Council covers a matter within the remit of the Cabinet, then the Council will direct the Cabinet as to how it should respond.
Where such a petition is to be considered by the Council or its Cabinet, it must be received not later than 10am on the seventh working day (excluding the day of the meeting, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) before the meeting at which it is to be presented.
If the matter falls within the remit of the Council or the Cabinet, one of the eligible signatories or a representative may address an appropriate meeting.
He or she may speak for no longer than five minutes and the address must be confined to explaining the subject matter of the petition; it may not contain any allegation, accusation or similar statement which is not recorded in the petition or a written statement submitted with the petition.
If the eligible signatory or the nominated representative is not able to address the meeting when the petition is due to be presented, he or she may nominate a substitute to speak to the meeting.
If the subject matter of a petition falls within the delegated authority of the Cabinet, the Cabinet Leader or the appropriate Portfolio Holder may make a statement in response to a representative’s address.
This may not exceed two minutes, except with the agreement of the Council or Cabinet and must be confined to facts relevant to the petition.
Where the subject matter of the petition is included elsewhere on the agenda for that meeting, the petition will be considered with that item.
A petition containing at least 50 signatures may ask for a senior officer to give evidence at a meeting of the Scrutiny Committee about something for which the officer is responsible as part of their job.
For example, your petition may ask a senior 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 requests such action, the relevant senior officer will give evidence at a Scrutiny Committee public meeting.
The senior officers that can be called to give evidence are the Chief Executive and Executive Heads of Service.
Petitions requesting a senior officer to give evidence to the Scrutiny Committee are excluded if the grounds for such a request relate to an individual’s private life, personal circumstances or character.
You should be aware that the 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 Scrutiny Committee Members will ask the questions at this meeting, but you will be able to suggest questions to the Chairman of the Committee by contacting Democratic Services up to ten working days before the meeting.
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 acknowledgements sent regarding the petition.
Other procedures apply 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 relates to a matter where there is already an existing right of appeal, such as Council Tax banding and non-domestic rates.
Where a petition is received on the same or similar topic as one we have received in the last six months, it will not be treated as a new petition.
We will acknowledge receipt of the petition within three working days and include details of the response to the previous petition on the topic.
Where we are still considering a petition on the same or similar topic, the new petition will be amalgamated with the first received petition.
If your petition is about something over which we has no direct control (for example the local railway or hospital), it will consider making representations on behalf of the community to the relevant body. We 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 policy), then those reasons will be set out to you.
If your petition is about something that a different council is responsible for, consideration will be given as to the most appropriate method of 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.
An acknowledgement will be sent to the petition organiser within three working days of receiving the petition.
Further correspondence confirming what we plan to do with the petition and when that person can expect to be contacted again will be sent within 10 working days. It will also be published on our website, except in cases where this would be inappropriate.
The petition’s organiser will be written to at each stage of the petition’s consideration.
Whenever possible, we will also publish all correspondence relating to the petition (all personal details will be removed).
Local Ward Councillors will be informed of all petitions received for their area.
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 meeting of the authority
- holding an enquiry
- holding a public meeting
- holding a consultation
- commissioning research
- holding a meeting with petitioners
- a written response to the petition organiser setting out the authority’s views on the request in the petition
- referring the petition for consideration by Scrutiny Committee
- calling a referendum
Paper petitions can be submitted to us at the following address:
Democratic Services, Mole Valley District Council, Pippbrook, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1SJ.
If you feel that we have not dealt with your petition properly, the petition organiser has the right to request that its Scrutiny Committee review the steps that we have taken in response to your petition.
It is helpful to everyone, and can improve the prospects for a review, the petition organiser could give a short explanation of the reasons why our 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 investigate the matter, make recommendations to the Cabinet or arrange for the matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council.
In the situation where the petition was referred to the Scrutiny Committee in the first instance and the petition organiser is subsequently dissatisfied with the response to the petition, the review should be undertaken by us.
Once the Committee has completed its review, the petition organiser will be informed of the results within five working days.
The results of the review will also be published on our website.