Petitions guidance FAQs
Which Committee will hear Petitions?
Petitions will be heard by the Audit and Scrutiny Committee. A Petition or Deputation would be heard at the next appropriate meeting following receipt.
The Audit and Scrutiny Committee is made up of the following Councillors:
- Councillor Stuart Bell (Chair)
- Councillor Heather Anderson
- Councillor Kris Chapman
- Councillor Scott Hamilton
- Councillor Neil Richards
- Councillor Harry Scott
- Councillor Eric Small
- Councillor Robin Tatler
- Councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol
What issues should a petition be about?
The Committee will consider petitions that relate to matters within the responsibility of Scottish Borders Council or to the general well-being of the residents of the Scottish Borders. Petitioners should be able to show that there is a public interest in the issue they are raising.
How do I submit a petition?
You should put forward your petition on the standard form which is available to download to print off, complete and posted to the Clerk. You can also contact the Clerk directly to request a form.
What must the petition include?
The petition should be titled and include a clear statement (no more than 250 words) which covers the main issue. Any further information, for example, about measures already taken or approaches made to other bodies, should be included but limited to no more than 4 sides of A4 paper.
The form should include the name, contact details and signature of the principal petitioner who must be on the Register of Electors for the Scottish Borders Council area. It should also be accompanied by at least 10 signatures in total, from persons aged 16 years and over, who are resident in the Scottish Borders. These signatures must be from a minimum of 3 separate addresses.
Elected Members may not be a signatory on a petition and no petition will be accepted from a political party.
Can a petition be submitted by a business?
A petition can be accepted from a local business if it is supported by at least 5 other local businesses on the Valuation Roll for Scottish Borders Council.
Are there issues that will not be considered?
The Council will not accept petitions where there are already regulatory procedures in place or the matter relates to individuals. Petitions will therefore not be accepted about:
- planning, licensing or other matters where there already procedures in place
- a complaint or grievance which should go through the Council's complaints procedure
- personal or business issues
- commercially sensitive or confidential material
- individual Councillors, members of Council staff or other individuals who may be easily identified
- employees' terms and conditions of employment
- information which is protected by an interdict or court order or
- an allegation that someone or an organisation has broken the law.
The Council will also not accept petitions which:
- contain language which is defamatory, offensive, provocative or otherwise inappropriate
- relate wholly to the business of another organisation
- relate to a decision made by the Council or a committee during the preceding six months
- are identical or similar to other petitions considered during the preceding 12 months.
Are the meetings open to the public and will I be invited to speak?
The meetings are held in public. However if we think any issue is confidential that part of the meeting will be held in private.
The principal petitioner should indicate on the form whether he/she or a named deputy wish to have the opportunity to speak at the meeting of the Petitions Committee where the petition is being considered. It will be normal practice to allow this but it is at the discretion of the Chairman. We will try to give an approximate time when we are likely to consider your petition. Any deputation in support of the petition shall not exceed 10 in number.
Unless the Chairman decides otherwise only one speaker shall be heard and the time allowed to make a statement will be limited to 10 minutes. The speaker should also be prepared to answer questions at the meeting from Councillors and those invited to be present.
What action will be taken when my petition has been heard?
The Audit and Scrutiny Committee will make a decision and do one of the following:
- refer the petition to another Committee or Director, with or without a recommendation or comment
- refer the petition to the relevant Community Planning Partner, with or without a recommendation or comment, if appropriate or
- take no further action and give a reason for this.
Is there anything else I should be aware of?
Those signing a petition should be aware that the detail of the petition and the names and addresses of signatories (but not their signatures) will be available for public access on the Council website as part of the agenda pack for the meeting of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee.
How will I hear what has been decided about my petition?
The decision of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee, and any reason for that decision, will be recorded in the minute of the meeting and a copy of that minute will be sent to you. Should your petition have been referred to another person or organisation you should receive further communication from that source. There will be no right of appeal in response to a final decision made in response to a petition.