Updated: Mar 20
At the virtual meeting on Thursday 19th November, Labour Councillor Stuart Mathers put forward a motion to make it easier for residents to petition Hillingdon Council. It was defeated by the ruling Conservative group.
Petitions are a tool in which groups of Hillingdon residents can get their collective voice heard by the Council. They can either be on paper or online.
Currently, whilst paper petitions require only 20 signatures to be considered, 100 are needed for online petitions.
With paper petitions being currently unworkable due to the Lockdown, Councillor Stuart Mathers put a motion to Hillingdon Full Council asking the cabinet to reduce the threshold of online petitions from 100 to 20 signatures to put it on par with paper petitions, and to remove the requirement to register an account with the Hillingdon Council website.
The motion would have made it easier for residents to successfully petition the Council: whilst, over the last 2 years, 47% of non-planning and licensing related petitions did not meet the 100 signature threshold, many of these achieved double the amount than the threshold needed for a paper petition.
The motion was opposed by the governing Conservative group. Councillor Richard Lewis said Hillingdon Council do petitions "how many organisations do petitions. Further, he argued that the current petitions system was “actually working quite well and should be considered as a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
Speaking after the Council meeting, Cllr Mathers said:
"This is just another move by this Conservative Council to hold off hearing residents' views because they prefer to believe that all is rosy.
"This is a huge concern as we want residents to stay safe during the pandemic, whilst being able to engage with the council on issues they are concerned about. With Residents all over the Borough calling out for change in their street or communities, we must make it as easy as possible for them to engage with decisions now and over the long term. 100 online signatures is an arbitrary and unnecessary requirement. Some concerns will also only affect 50 people, which means that the Council simply doesn't determine it as an issue."
The next full meeting of Hillingdon Council will take place on January 14th.