Petitions and e-petitions: Frequently Asked Questions

Find out everything you need to know about submitting a petition to the Council.

What is an e-petition?

An e-petition is a form of petition on a website. Individuals or groups can create a petition on the site and visitors can add their details to the petition to 'sign' it. The format makes it easy to collect signatures, and it also makes it easier for us to respond direct using e-mail. You can also have a paper version of the petition running alongside the e-petition for people without internet access. Their signatures will be added as 'offline' signatures by the Petitions Officer.

The Council welcomes e-petitions from anyone who lives, works or studies in Runnymede, including under 18s, which are created and submitted through our website; e-petitions must follow the same guidelines as paper petitions. The petition organiser will need to provide us with their name, postal address and e-mail address. You will also need to decide how long you would like your petition to be open for signatures. Most petitions run for six months, but you can choose a shorter or longer timeframe, up to a maximum of 12 months.

When you create an e-petition, it may take five working days before it is published on-line. This is because we have to check that the content of your petition is suitable before it is made available for signature.

If we feel we cannot publish your petition for some reason, we will contact you within this time to explain. You will be able to change and resubmit your petition if you wish. If you do not do this 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.

When an e-petition has closed for signature, it will automatically be submitted to the Committee section. In the same way as a paper petition, you will receive an acknowledgement within 10 working days. If you would like to present your e-petition to a meeting of the Council, please contact Bernard Fleckney within 10 working days of receipt of the acknowledgement.

How do I 'sign' an e-petition?

You can see all the e-petitions currently available for signature on our website.

When you sign an e-petition you will be asked to provide your name, your postcode and a valid email address. When you have submitted this information you will be sent an email to the e-mail address you have provided. This email will include a link which you must click on in order to confirm the email address is valid. Once this step is complete you 'signature' will be added to the petition. People visiting the e-petition will be able to see your name in the list of those who have signed it but your contact details will not be visible.

What is an offline signature?

If you don't have your own e-mail address but still want to sign an e-petition you can be added as an 'offline signatory'. Contact Clare Pinnock, Carol Holehouse or Petitions

Is my petition suitable?

You may want to discuss your issue with your local Councillor before raising a petition. They may be able to help you or explain how to make representations on a particular subject to the right person at the Council.

Why create a petition?

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 it to consider, e.g. provision of affordable housing or services for older people
  • Demonstrate strong public approval or disapproval to something that the council is doing or proposing to do.

Petitions offer you the opportunity of bringing issues to the Council's attention, so that we can consider your requests and, where appropriate and possible, bring about change for the better for the people of Runnymede.

Signature thresholds explained

  • petitions requiring debate at Council - 1,500 signatures are required
  • petitions requiring a senior member of staff to give evidence at a public meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Select Committee about something for which the member of staff is responsible as part of their job - 750 signatures are required
  • for a petition to be considered formally - 50 signatures are required
  • for a petition to be treated as normal correspondence - less than 50 signatures are required

Can I attend the meeting when my petition is discusses?

If the petition contains more than 1,500 signatures the lead petitioner or spokesperson for the petition will be invited to attend the full Council meeting. They may speak to the Council meeting about the petition for up to five minutes. The petition will be discussed for a maximum of 15 minutes and may be referred without discussion to the next appropriate meeting of a relevant Committee for a report on what action should be taken, or a response may be made at the meeting. If the petition is referred to a future meeting, we will let you know when that meeting will be.

If your petition contains 750 signatures and requires a senior member of staff to give evidence at the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Select Committee you may attend. However, only Committee Councillors will ask the questions at the meeting, but you will be able to suggest questions to the Chairman of the Committee by contacting Democratic Services up to three working days before the meeting.

If you are not a petition organiser you may still attend the meeting at which the petition is discussed, but you would not be able to speak.

What if your petition contains less than 1,500 signatures:

You may ask a Councillor to present a petition at full Council on your behalf. In such cases the petition will not be debated but referred for consideration by the appropriate Council committee. Any Councillor has the right to present, on your behalf, a petition at a meeting of the full Council. It must be relevant to the Borough Council's functions, or the whole or part of its area or some or all of its residents.

A Councillor who wishes to present a petition must notify the Chief Executive, or the Corporate Head of Law and Governance, that he wishes to present the petition, before the start of the meeting.

The Councillor presenting it has a maximum of five minutes to do so. The Councillor must do no more than read out or summarise the key points of the petition, inform the Council of the number and description of the persons signing it, and make any relevant supporting remarks that he or she thinks fit. The Councillor shall then hand the petition to the person presiding.

Petitions shall be presented at any Council meeting in order of which notice of them has been received.

Following the presentation of a petition, the Council shall refer it to the earliest meeting of the appropriate committee at which it is practical for the relevant members of staff to present a report, unless the petition contains an allegation that a councillor is in breach of the Code of Conduct for Runnymede Councillors, in which case it must be referred to the Standards and Audit Committee as well as the appropriate committee.

What is the difference between a paper and e-petition?

There is no theoretical difference, only the way in which the signatures are collected and delivered. A petition can gather names and addresses in either or both forms, though once someone has signed a petition in one format, they cannot sign it in another. Some people may consider e-petitions more convenient as they can then gather 'signatures' via e-mail rather than having to gain signatures in person and the e-petition is submitted online instead of being posted. E-petitions have the added benefit of being published online for a wider audience to view.

What if my petition is about a County Council matter?

Petitions can also be presented to local committees of the Surrey County Council. The minimum number of signatures varies between local committees, depending on their local protocol. Please contact the Cabinet Business Manager for guidance about submitting a petition to Surrey County Council's e-petitions site.

How do I submit a petition by post?

If you are unable to create a petition online or prefer to collect signatures in person, you can submit a petition by post. Please sent it to: 

Corporate Head of Law and Governance, Runnymede Borough Council, Civic Centre, Station Road, Addlestone, Surrey, KT15 2AH                                                                                                                                                                        

How many signatures do I need?

Petitions with 50 or more signatures will be considered, 750 or more signatures for a senior member of staff to give evidence at a public meeting of the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Select Committee and 1,500 signatures for a debate at full Council. The Council or senior member of staff will consider the petition and decide whether to take the requested action. Upon achieving the required number of signatures the matter will be considered at the next full Council meeting.

What happens if I do not get 50 signatures?

Petitions with fewer than 50 signatures will be sent as a normal piece of correspondence to the relevant department for a response.

What happens if I submit a petition?

All petitions sent to Runnymede Council will receive an acknowledgement from the Petitions Officer within 10 working days of receipt. If you have submitted an e-petition you will receive an acknowledgement by e-mail, otherwise it will be by post. This acknowledgement will set out what we plan to do with the petition. Please be aware that submitting a petition does not automatically guarantee that the subject of the petition will be acted upon.

When will my petition be published online?

It may take up to five working days before it is published online. This is because we have to check that the content of your petition is suitable and/or is something that we can accept a petition about in accordance with the Petitions scheme before it is made available for signature.