Last updated: 24-05-2024. From web page: Council Constitution.

Council Constitution 25 Part 11 - Petition Scheme

Scheme for handling petitions


The Council welcomes petitions and recognises that they are a way in which the people can let the Council know their concerns. All petitions must be submitted in accordance with this guidance and can be in electronic form created from the Council’s website or on paper and sent to Democratic Services, Civic Centre, Civic Centre Road, Southampton SO14 7LY.


  1. Petitions submitted to the Council must:-
  • include a clear and concise statement covering the subject of the petition stating what action the petitioners wish the Council to take;
  • should be accompanied by the name, address, and contact details of the petition organiser; and
  • contain a minimum of 50 signatures of persons who live, work or study in the City and who support the

Petition Organiser

The Petition Organiser is the person the Council 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 Council will contact signatories to the petition to agree who should act as the Petition Organiser.


  1. A petition may be rejected should the Democratic Services & Member Services Manager consider that the petition:-
    • contains intemperate, inflammatory, abusive or provocative language;
    • is defamatory, frivolous, vexatious, discriminatory or otherwise offensive, or contains false statements;
    • is too similar to another petition submitted within the last six months;
    • discloses confidential or exempt information, including information protected by a court order or government department;
    • discloses material which is otherwise commercially sensitive;
    • contains names of individual citizens as the target of the petition, or provides information where they may be easily identified, g. officers or public bodies;
    • contains advertising statements;
    • refers to an issue which is currently the subject of a formal Council complaint, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman complaint or any legal proceedings;
    • relates to the Council’s Planning or Licensing functions as there are separate statutory processes in place for dealing with these matters;
    • does not relate to an issue upon which the Council has powers or duties or on which it has shared delivery responsibilities; or
    • has already been the subject of debate by Full Council within the last six
  2. During politically sensitive periods, such as prior to an election or referendum, politically controversial material may need to be
  3. 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, the Council will write to you to explain the

On Receipt of a Petition

  1. An acknowledgement will be sent to the Petition Organiser within three working days of receiving the petition. It will let them know what the Council plans to do with the petition and when they can expect to hear from the Council again. It will also be published on the website
  2. If the Council can do what your petition asks for, the acknowledgement may confirm that the Council has taken the action requested and the petition will be closed. If the petition has enough signatures to trigger a Council debate (over 1,500 signatures),or 750 signatures requiring referral to Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee, then the acknowledgment will confirm this and tell you when and where the meeting will take place. If the petition needs more investigation, the Council will tell you the steps it plans to take. If more than one petition is received on the same subject matter within a 7 day period, if appropriate, they will be amalgamated which may trigger a Council debate as above.
  3. If the petition relates to action currently being progressed by the Council and the petition triggers with a debate at Full Council or Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee, then the action will be suspended pending the debate, save in relation to statutory, contractual or other legal situations, where suspension would prejudice the Council’s position.
  4. 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 These will take precedence.
  5. The Council will not take action on any petition which it considers to be vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate and will explain the reasons for this in its acknowledgement of the petition.
  6. To ensure that people know what the Council is doing in response to the petitions received, the details of all the petitions submitted will be published on the website, except in cases where this would be inappropriate. Whenever possible the Council will also publish all correspondence relating to the petition (all personal details, except the name, will be removed).

Council's Response to Petitions

  1. The Council’s 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 the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee*
    • calling a referendum
    • writing to the petition organiser setting out the Council’s 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, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has the power to hold the Council's decision makers to account.

  2. If your petition is about something over which the Council has no direct control (for example the local railway or hospital) it will give consideration to what the best method is for responding to it is. The Council may make 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 the Council is not able to do this for any reason (for example if what the petition calls for conflicts with Council policy), then it will set out the reasons for this to you.
  3. If your petition is about something that a different Council is responsible for, the Council will give consideration to what the best method is for responding to it. It might consist of simply forwarding the petition to the other Council, but could involve other In any event the Council will always notify you of the action it has taken.

Full Council debates

  1. If a petition contains more than 1,500 signatures, where time permits 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 The Petition Organiser will be given five minutes to present the petition at the meeting and the petition will then be discussed by Councillors in accordance with Council Procedure Rules as contained. Where time does not permit a debate at Full Council, the matter will be referred to the appropriate decision-maker or relevant committee. If the petition is a matter relating specifically to the February budget resolution and cannot be deferred, the Lord Mayor will use their discretion as to how the matter will be handled.
  2. 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. The Petition Organiser will receive written confirmation of this decision. This confirmation will also be published on the City Council’s website.

Non-Qualifying Petitions (fewer than 1,500 signatures)

  1. Should the petition contain at least 750 signatures, the relevant Cabinet Member or Executive Director will give evidence at a public meeting of the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The 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 For example, your petition may ask a senior Council officer to explain progress on an issue, or to explain the advice given to Councillors to enable them to make a particular decision.
  2. Petitioners 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. 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 Democratic Services up to three working days before the meeting.
  3. A petition with a minimum of 50 signatures will be treated as one to which a response in accordance with the Scheme is to be made. Petitions with fewer signatories may still be submitted, but the Council will have greater flexibility in responding to the issues these petitions raise.


  1. The Council welcomes e-petitions which are created and submitted through the website. E-petitions must follow the same guidelines as paper petitions. The Petition Organiser will need to provide the Council with their name, postal address and email You will also need to decide how long you would like your petition to be open for signatures. Most petitions run for three months, but you can choose a shorter or longer timeframe, up to a maximum of six months.
  2. Individuals signing an e-petition will receive by email a link to that part of the City Council's website where the response to the petition will be displayed. The Council regrets that it cannot respond by post or other means other than posting information on the website to all the signatories of paper petitions other than the promoters and organisers.
  3. Should the Council feel that it cannot publish a petition for some reason the Petition Organiser will be contacted with an explanation and given the opportunity to amend and resubmit the petition. If the Petition Organiser does not resubmit within 10 working days, a summary of the petition and the reason why it has not been accepted will be published under the `rejected petitions' section of the website.