Petitions criteria and procedures

The purpose of the petition service is to enable as many people as possible to make their views known. All petitions will be accepted, providing they meet the criteria below.

Petitioners may freely disagree with the council or call for changes of policy. There will be no attempt to exclude critical views.

However, to protect this service from abuse, petitions must satisfy some basic conditions.

When submitting your petition online, you will need to include:

  • the title or subject of the petition;
  • a clear and concise statement covering the subject of the petition. It should state what action the petitioner wishes the Council to take and action already taken before submitting the petition (and the outcome of this). The petition will be returned to you to edit if it is unclear what action is being sought;
  • the lead petitioner’s name and contact address.

The information in a petition must be submitted in good faith. You must not include:

  • overtly party political material. Please note this does not mean it is not permissible to petition on controversial issues;
  • false or potentially defamatory statements;
  • information the disclosure of which is restricted by an interdict or court order;
  • material which is confidential or commercially sensitive;
  • information which may cause distress or loss to an individual;
  • 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. This not only includes obvious swear words and insults, but any language to which people reading it could reasonably take offence (we believe it is possible to petition for anything, no matter how radical, politely).

We reserve the right to reject:

  • petitions which ask for things outside the remit or powers of the council;
  • petitions that are similar to and/or overlap with an existing petition or petitions;
  • petitions that don't actually request any action - ideally start the title of your petition with a verb;
  • petitions that are impossible to understand;
  • petitions that amount to advertisements;
  • petitions which are intended to be humorous, or which have no point about council policy (however witty these are, it is not appropriate to use a publicly-funded process for purely frivolous purposes);
  • petitions which raise issues for which a petition is not the appropriate channel (for example, correspondence about a personal issue);
  • petitions that are, in effect, Freedom of Information requests. This is not the right channel for FOI requests; information about the appropriate procedure can be found on our Requesting Information from East Lothian Council page.

Common causes for rejection

We cannot accept petitions in respect of ongoing court cases.

  • We cannot accept petitions in respect of actions which are the responsibility of an agency/organisation other than the council.
  • We cannot accept petitions about matters that are clearly private sector decisions, such as whether to re-introduce a brand of breakfast cereal. These are also outside the remit of the council.
  • We cannot accept petitions which merely call upon the council to "recognise" or "acknowledge" something, as they do not clearly call for a recognisable action.

Petitions that do not follow these guidelines cannot be accepted. In these cases, you will be informed in writing of the reason(s) your petition has been refused.

Anyone signing the petition must provide their name and contact address. Information about any individual will not be used for any other purpose than in relation to the petition.

Please note that every petition must carry at least one other signature in addition to that of the lead petitioner.

Process for consideration of petitions

When petitions are received, they will be scrutinised by the Democratic Services Team to ensure they meet the criteria. Petitions that meet the criteria, but cannot be resolved by any other means, will be included on the agenda for the next meeting of the Petitions and Community Empowerment Review Committee after they are received. The lead petitioner will be notified accordingly. The petition will be stored by the Democratic Services Team and made available to members of the 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. The lead petitioner will be notified in writing of any action to be taken as a result of their petition.

Should a petition fail to meet the criteria, the lead 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.