Committee details

Petition Panel

Purpose of committee

Part 5: Petitions Scheme


Dorset County Council Petitions Scheme

If you wish to petition Dorset County Council you can either:

·         Send the Council a paper petition signed by those who support your petition. The petition should be sent to: Democratic Services, Dorset County Council, County Hall, Colliton Park, Dorchester, DT1 1XJ - 01305 225113 -

·         Use the e-petitioning facility on any external petition site such as or, but there are others which you may also use if you prefer.


What are the guidelines for submitting a petition?

Petitions submitted to the council must include:

·         A clear and concise statement covering the subject of the petition. It should state what action the petitioners wish the council to take.

·         All or some of the following details of any person supporting the petition; name, address, postcode, signature, email address.

·         The total number of signatures collected.

·         Petitions should be accompanied by contact details, including an address, for the petition organiser.


The Council will respond to petitions organised and supported by people who live, work or study in Dorset. Most petitions will be of relevance only to local people. Some petitions will be of relevance to visitors and some will cross local authority boundaries and in such cases those from outside Dorset will be able to participate. In addition, children are welcome to petition the Council about an issue of particular concern to them.


Petitions which are considered to be vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate will not be accepted. In the period immediately before an election or referendum we may need to deal with your petition differently – if this is the case we will explain the reasons and discuss the revised timescale which will apply. 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, we will write to you to explain the reasons. Decisions about whether a petition is vexatious, abusive or otherwise inappropriate will be

made by the Monitoring Officer.


What will the Council do when it receives my petition?

An acknowledgement will be sent to the petition organiser within 5 working days of receiving the petition. It will let them know what we plan to do with the petition and when they can expect to hear from us again. It will also be published on our website.

·         If your petition is supported by 50 or more signatories then it will be considered by a Petitions Panel (comprising the relevant Cabinet member(s) and local County Councillor(s)).

·         If your petition is supported by 4250 (1% of the total population of Dorset) or more signatories it will be scheduled for a debate at the next meeting of the full County Council.


If we can do what your petition asks for, the acknowledgement may confirm that we have taken the action requested and the petition will be closed. The acknowledgment will confirm the arrangements for what will happen with the petition and tell you when and where a meeting will take place. We will aim for your petition to be dealt with within 6 weeks of receipt.


If the petition applies to a planning or rights of way 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, other procedures apply. In addition, if the petition relates to a Traffic Regulation Order the approval of the relevant Town or Parish Council will be sought prior to consideration.


To ensure that people know what we are doing in response to the petitions they will be published on our website when they are reported to the Council, except in cases where this would be inappropriate. We will also keep available for inspection at our offices all correspondence relating to all petitions (all personal details will be removed). All personal details are kept securely and are not passed to any third party for any purpose.


How will the Council respond to petitions?

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 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 audit and governance committee

·         calling a referendum

·         writing to the petition organiser setting out the panel’s views

·         any other action that is considered appropriate


If your petition is about something that a different council or organisation is responsible for we will give consideration to what the best method is for 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.


Consideration at Full Council and Panels

If your petition is referred to the Council or a Petitions Panel, we will endeavour to consider the petition as soon as practicable. The petition organiser will be given ten minutes to present the petition at the meeting and the petition will then be discussed by councillors for a maximum of 15 minutes (full Council or committees) or as required (panels). A decision will then be made as to how to respond to the petition at this meeting. Where the Cabinet is required to make a decision after Council or Panel consideration, a recommendation will be made to the next available meeting.  The petition organiser will receive written confirmation of this decision.


Officer evidence

Officers will be required to produce background information for any petition submitted.



E-petitions must follow the same guidelines as paper petitions. The petition organiser will need to provide us with their name, postal address and email address. You will also need to decide how long you would like your petition to be open for signatures, up to a maximum of 12 months. When you create an e-petition, it may take 5 days before it is published online. 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. When an e-petition has closed for signature,

it will automatically be submitted to Democratic Services. You will then receive an

acknowledgement within 5 working days.


Contact information

Support officer: Liz Eaton, Democratic Services Officer. 01305 225113 - Email:

Postal address:
County Hall
Colliton Park