Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth council debate petition threshold lowered

Councillors in Portsmouth have agreed to lower the threshold for the number of signatures needed to prompt a council debate.

Proposals to increase the number of signatures from 1,000 to 5,000 for matters that had already been determined were defeated on Thursday.

Instead, councillors agreed that new or undecided issues could be debated with just 500 signatures.

Previously the threshold was 1,000 signatures for all matters.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said raising the threshold would encourage people to submit petitions before decisions are made.

He said: "It's not great to get a petition in to save something after it's been demolished.

"At the last council meeting we spent five hours discussing things about petitions. Some of the decisions had been made several years beforehand and none of them had any effect.

"That's really discourteous to people who have signed petitions - we should be trying to get petitions in when they can really have an effect."

Conservative councillor Donna Jones, who opposed the increase, said: "For the one part, it's stayed the same - 1,000 signatures is required to get an item before the council if it has been decided upon already, but the number has reduced down to 500 signatures for an item of business never been decided upon by the council, or not in the last 24 months.

"This really is an improvement in getting people engaged in their local democratic process and being able to have an influence over decisions taken in their home city."

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