East Lothian Council


Petitions frequently asked questions

1. How do I start a petition?

You are encouraged to submit your petition online via the Council’s website www.eastlothian.gov.uk/epetition. Alternatively, you can contact the Committees Team on 01620 827586 or meetings@eastlothian.gov.uk, who will send you a form and relevant information for a paper based petition. You must then secure at least one other signature in order for your petition to be considered valid.

2. What can I petition the Council about?

You can petition the Council on matters, which relate to either Council services or activities, or the general wellbeing of the East Lothian community.

3. Are there things which should not be subject to a public petition?

Petitions should not be concerned with: party political material; potentially libellous, false or defamatory statements; information which may be protected by an injunction or court order; 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; 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; language which is offensive, intemperate, or provocative.

4. How do I submit a petition to the Council?

You can quickly and easily submit your petition online by completing all the requested information. Please ensure that you make it very clear what action you are looking for the Council to take as a result of your petition. If this is not clear the petition will be returned to you, or the Clerk to the Petitions Committee will contact you to discuss the matter further. You will be able to set an end date for your online petition. Please refer to the e-petitions page on the website for further information.

5. When does the Petitions Committee meet?

The Petitions Committee will normally meet 4 times per year. Meetings are held in Haddington and are open to the public. Meeting dates are available on the Council’s website.

6. Who sits on the Petitions Committee?

The Petitions Committee will comprise four Elected Members and will be chaired by the Provost. The other members will be the leaders of the various political parties represented at the Council.

7. Will I be able to attend the meeting, and speak about my petition?

The principal petitioner will be invited to the meeting to address the Petitions Committee, and will be offered five minutes in which to present their petition. If the principal petitioner is unable to attend, a depute may attend in their place. Other petitioners are welcome to attend the meeting, but will not be given the opportunity to speak. The Committee may question the principal petitioner (or their depute) on their petition.

8. What will the Council do when I submit my request for an online petition?

When petition requests are received, they will be scrutinised by the Committees Team to ensure they meet the criteria. Where the criteria have been met, it will be placed on the website for other people to add their details in support of the petition. The petition will be added to the agenda for the first Petitions Committee meeting after the date the petition closes. The principal petitioner will be notified accordingly.

The petition will be stored by the Committees Team and made available to members of the Petitions Committee as required. If the Committee agrees to take forward the petition, it will be referred to the relevant Cabinet Spokesperson/Head of Service for further consideration/action. Following the meeting, the petition will be stored in a secure place for a minimum period of five years.

Should a request for a petition fail to meet the criteria, the principal petitioner will be notified of this and informed that it will not be considered by the Committee. The Committee will be notified of all rejected petitions, as well as those accepted. Rejected petitions will also be stored securely for a minimum period of five years.

9. What is a paper-based petition?

Paper-based petitions work in much the same way as the online petitions system, the main differences being that petitioners will not be able to add their names to a petition via the Council’s website; instead the principal petitioner will need to physically collect signatures. Anyone signing a paper-based petition must supply their name and address, but no information about any individual will be used for any purpose other than in relation to that particular petition.

It is possible to have an online and paper-based version running at the same time for the same petition. Please refer to the e-petitions page on the Council’s website for more information.

You can download a paper-based form or contact the Clerk to the Petitions Committee.

John Muir House Brewery Park Haddington EH41 3HA

Telephone: 01620 827586

East Lothian Council, John Muir House Brewery Park Haddington East Lothian EH41 3HA.