Petition Guidance

Who can submit a Petition?

Anyone who lives, works or studies in the districts of Eden, including under 18s, can sign a petition.

Online Petitions

The ePetitioning system makes a petition available to a potentially much wider audience, giving you the opportunity to gather more names in support. It also allows the lead petitioner the opportunity to provide background information or photographs.

You can run an online petition at the same time as a paper petition, combining the two before submitting them to your local Council. Some people prefer this option as they find it easier to have one they can hand around to friends and family. However duplicate signatures appearing on both the paper petition and epetition will not be accepted.

What should a Petition contain?

Please note that petitions presented to either Eden District Council (both paper and e-petitions) are public documents which any member of the public can ask to see.

A petition should include a brief title and a short statement covering the subject matter of the petition. The petition should clearly state what action the petitioner wishes the council to take.

In order to be considered, petitions must also display the following:

  • the name of the petitioner
  • the contact address of the principal petitioner to which all communications concerning the petition should be sent
  • the name and address of any person supporting the petition (For e-petitons, although the name and address of any person supporting the petition is required for checking purposes, only the name and area will be displayed).
  • Paper petitions should also include a signature.

Each petition must also include a fair processing notice (see Data Protection Act requirements section below) explaining to people that their personal details they provide will only be used in connection with the petition will only be shared with the petition organiser, Eden District Council. However, the notice must also state that the petition (both paper and e-petition) are public documents and therefore any member of the public can request to see them and the information they contain. It must also mention the letters of representation process.

Data Protection Act requirements

The Fair Processing Notice is required by the Data Protection Act legislation. An example of the notice required under the Data Protection Act to be used on each petition is below.

DATA PROTECTION ACT. The personal details you have provided within this petition will only be used in connection with the administration of the petition and will only be shared between the petition organiser, Eden District Council. Your personal information will not be used for any other purpose other than mentioned. It will be held and stored securely and will be securely destroyed in line with legislative requirements. As with all council held information, petition information will be subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act legislation and may be disclosed to the public if requested.

Petitions will be rejected if they are defamatory, frivolous or offensive. Petitioners will be told in writing why a petition cannot be accepted.

During politically senstive periods, such as just before an election, politically controversial material may need to be restricted.

Do you accept all Petitions?

We aim to accept as many petitions as possible but those which are vexatious, abusive or inappropriate will not be accepted. Also, if it is on a matter where there is already an existing right of appeal or seperate complaints process as well as those that apply to the following areas, it will not be accepted as there are other procedures for these matters:

  • planning applications
  • licensing applications
  • council tax banding
  • non domestic rates
  • if it is a statutory petition (requesting a referendum for an elected mayor)

A petition will also not be accepted if it is the same or substantially the same as one submitted within the previous 12 months. If a petition is not accepted we will let you know why it has been refused.

Promoting the ePetition

Just as with paper petitions, the responsibility for publicising the ePetition lies with the petition organiser.

If you are promoting your ePetition by email, through newsgroups or discussion boards it is suggested that you only post information about your ePetition to others who are likely to have an interest in the ePetition. It is not appropriate to send messages indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals or news groups. Be careful that only the e-petition is submitted to these groups and discussion boards. Never publish any personal contact details such as email addresses or signatures collected. Eden District Council accept no responsibility for e-petitions submitted.

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What happens once the signatures have been collected?

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

For ePetitions, the lead petitioner should set a closing date. Once that closing date has been reached, the list of signatures will be printed off and sent to the lead petitioner who should then arrange for it to be submitted as appropriate.

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What is the process for submitting the Petition?

Petitions can be presented by the lead petitioner or by a Councillor on his or her behalf at a meeting of full council.

If a petitioner wishes to submit the petition at a meeting of Eden District Council, he or she must contact the Director of Corporate and Legal Services at Eden District Council 01768 212205) at least ten working days before the meeting. See the Eden District Council meeting calendar for the schedule of council meetings.

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How many names should be on the Petition?

Eden District Council

On average Eden District Council would expect a minimum of 10 names, however this depends on the issue at hand. There is no maximum number of names on a petition.

If the petition has 520 signatures it will trigger a council debate, or a senior officer giving evidence.

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What can a Petition be about?

Petitions should be relevant in some matter in relation to which Eden District Council have powers or duties or which affects either District.

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What happens once the Petition is submitted?

Once the petition has been submitted to the council, it will be referred to an appropriate council officer, commitee, scrutiny panel or Councillor for consideration, dependent on the number of signatures collected. Feedback will be published on the epetition website once the details are available.

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What Can Petitions Achieve?

Petitions submitted to the Council inform debate and can have positive outcomes that lead to change. For example, they can:

  • bring an issue to the attention of the council for them to consider, e.g. a new public swimming pool
  • demonstrate strong public approval or disapproval to something that the council is doing

Please note that during election periods, politically controversial issues will be restricted.

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What is the main criteria for a petition?

The purpose of a Petition is to enable as many people as possible to make their views known. All petitions will be accepted and published on this website, providing they are in accordance with this petitions guidance document and that they do not contain:

  • factually inaccurate information;
  • any potentially libellous, false, or defamatory statements;
  • information which may be protected by an injunction or court order (for example, the identities of children in custody disputes);
  • any material which is potentially confidential, commercially sensitive, or which may cause personal distress or loss;
  • any commercial endorsement, promotion of any product, service or publication;
  • any URLs or web links (we cannot vet the content of external sites, and therefore cannot link to them from this site);
  • the names of individual officials of public bodies, unless they are part of the senior management of those organisations;
  • the names of family members of elected representatives or officials of public bodies;
  • the names of individuals, or information where they may be identified, in relation to criminal accusations; and
  • language which is offensive or provocative. This not only includes obvious swear words and insults, but any language to which people reading it could reasonably take offence (we believe it is possible to petition for anything, no matter how radical, politely).

The Council reserves the right to reject:

  • petitions that are similar to and/or overlap with an existing petition or petitions;
  • petitions which ask for things outside the remit or powers of the Council;
  • statements that do not actually request any action;
  • wording that is impossible to understand;
  • statements that amount to advertisements;
  • petitions which are intended to be humorous, or which have no point about government policy (however witty these are, it is not appropriate to use a publically-funded website for purely frivolous purposes);
  • issues for which a Petition is not the appropriate channel (for example, correspondence about a personal issue); and
  • Each Council will strive to ensure that petitions that do not meet its criteria are not accepted, but where a petition is accepted which contains misleading information both Council's reserve the right to post an interim response to highlight this point to anyone visiting to sign the petition.

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Common causes for rejection

To avoid any problems, please note the following:

  • Both Council's will not accept petitions on individual legal cases such as deportations because it is difficult to ascertain whether the individual concerned has given permission for their details to be made publicly known. Petitioners are advised to take their concerns on such matters directly to the Home Office.
  • The use of capital letters (‘shouting’) could cause the petition to fall foul of the ‘difficult to understand’ criteria.

Petitions that do not follow the criteria and guidance document cannot be accepted. In these cases, the lead Petitioner will be informed in writing of the reason(s) the petition has been refused. If this happens, the Petitioner will be given the option of altering and resubmitting the petition so it can be accepted.

If the petition is not resubmitted, or if the second iteration is also rejected, the petition and the reason(s) for not accepting it will be published on this website. The full text of the petition, will be published unless the content is illegal or offensive.

Once accepted, epetitions will be made available on this website for anyone to sign. Anyone signing the epetition must provide their name, address and a verifiable email address. No personal details other than their name will be published on the site. Information about any individual will not be used for any other purpose than in relation to the petition, unless they choose to sign up for other services offered on this website.

It will usually take up to five working days from the time a epetition proposal is received for it to appear on the website, although during busy periods it may take longer. The petition will be available on this website until the specified closing date.

If, however, during this time it becomes clear that a petition is not being run in accordance with the terms, either Council reserves the right to withdraw it. If this happens, the Petitioner will be contacted first to allow concerns to be addressed and the petition will only be removed as a last resort.

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Glossary

  • epetition - a petition which collects names and adresses online, using the e-petitioner system.
  • Principal petitioner - the person who intiates the petition and decides when it is to be submitted.
  • Collecting signatures - an e-petition that is collecting names and adresses online, but 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.

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