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Questions about petitions

Surrey County Council welcomes petitions and e-petitions from all people who are resident, working or studying in the county, recognising that petitions are one way in which you can let us know about council matters that are important to you.


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  1. Why create a petition?
  2. What is an e-petition?
  3. What's the difference between an e-petition and a paper petition?
  4. How do you submit a petition by post?
  5. What happens if you submit a petition?
  6. When will your e-petition be published online?
  7. Can you edit an e-petition once it has been approved and published online?
  8. How many signatures do you need?
  9. What if your petition does not have 100 signatures?
  10. What if your petition is about local rather than county matters?
  11. Can you attend the meeting when your petition is discussed?
  12. What about petitions for council debate or requiring officers to give evidence at a public meeting?
  13. Who are mySociety and what is their involvement in the e-petition service?
  14. How can you get help deciding if your issue is suitable for a petition?
  15. How do you create or sign an e-petition?
  16. Any more questions?

1. 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. traffic calming measures or a new library.
  • 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 Surrey.


2. What is an e-petition?

An e-petition is a form of petition posted 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 directly using email.


3. What's the difference between an e-petition and a paper 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 email 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.


4. How do you submit a petition by post?

If you are unable to create a petition online or prefer to collect signatures in person, you can find details about submitting your petition by post.

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5. What happens if you submit a petition?

All petitions sent to Surrey County Council will receive an acknowledgement from the council within 10 working days of receipt. If you have submitted an e-petition you will receive an acknowledgement by email, 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.


6. When will your 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 before it is made available for signature.


7. Can you edit an e-petition once it has been approved and published online?

No, it is not possible to edit an e-petition after it has been published online. Please make sure you have checked your petition thoroughly and that you are happy with the wording before you submit it.


8. How many signatures do you need?

Petitions with 100 or more signatures can be presented to a meeting of the Cabinet, an individual Cabinet Member or a Committee. The Cabinet, Cabinet Member or Committee will consider the petition and decide whether to take the requested action. Petitions must be received at least 14 days before the meeting. Petitions on specific local matters can be considered by a local committee if there are 30 signatures, and sometimes fewer if the Chairman agrees.


9. What if your petition does not have 100 signatures?

If a petition does not contain 100 signatures, it may be referred to the relevant local committee if it relates to a local issue and contains 30 signatures, the required number of signatures for that committee.

If a submitted petition does not have enough signatures to be considered at one of the council's formal meetings, it will be referred to the relevant council service for response.


10. What if your petition is about local rather than county matters?

Petitions can also be presented to local committees. The minimum number of signatures is 30, although the chairman may agree to consider a petition that has fewer signatures. Please check the rules of local committees or contact the Community Partnership and Committee Officer for your local committee.


11. Can you attend the meeting when your petition is discussed?

The lead petitioner or spokesperson for the petitioners will be invited to attend the meeting. They may speak to the Cabinet, Cabinet Member or committee about the petition for up to three minutes. The petition may be referred without discussion to the next appropriate meeting 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 you are not a petition organiser you may still attend the meeting at which the petition is discussed, but you will not be able to speak.

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12. What about petitions for council debate or requiring officers to give evidence at a public meeting?

Two additional types of petition can be submitted:

  • petitions requiring debate at council – 10,000 signatures are required;
  • petitions requiring a senior council officer to give evidence at a public meeting about something for which the officer is responsible as part of their job – 10,000 signatures are required.

13. Who are mySociety and what is their involvement in the e-petition service?

mySociety builds websites which give people simple, tangible benefits in the civic and community aspects of their lives. It is strictly neutral on political issues, and is run by registered charity UKCOD (no. 1076346). mySociety's role was in designing and building the petitioning software to be as easy to use, as transparent and as trustworthy as possible.


14. How can you get help deciding if your issue is suitable for a petition?

Before considering whether or not to raise a petition to Surrey County Council, you may want to discuss your issue with your local county councillor (Member) who may be able to help you with it or explain how to make representations on a particular subject to the right person at the county council. Find out how to contact your local county councillor.


15. How do you create or sign an e-petition?

Find out how to create a new e-petition or sign an existing one.


16. Any more questions?

If your question isn't listed above, please contact us.

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