Number of signatures needed for Barking and Dagenham petitions rises to 1,500

The number of signatures needed on a petition before an issue can be put forward for debate by councillors has risen from 100 to 1,500.

The council defended the changes, which have sparked fears that campaigners will find it harder to be heard, arguing they “bring it in line with other authorities” across London.

Previously residents needed 100 signatures for a paper petition and 1,200 for an electronic petition for an issue to be debated at an assembly meeting.

Councillors have agreed that 1,500 signatures will be needed for both types of petitions and that matters would now be transferred to select committee meetings.

A report put before councillors said there would be more opportunities for full debates during the committee gatherings, compared with assembly meetings, which already deal with a “large range of important issues”.

Chief executive of Barking and Dagenham’s Council for Voluntary Services (CVS), Carl Blackburn, presented a petition against proposed voluntary sector cuts at the December 5 assembly.

He said: “We collected 285 signatures, and could have got more, but we would have struggled to get 1,500.

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“I actually think 100 is too low but 1,500 is far too high.

“The council make a big thing about how they listen to residents but this will make it harder for people to make their voices heard.”

He added: “People will either not be able to get enough signatures or they will be deterred from trying in the first place.”

Residents will also no longer be able to appeal members’ decisions.

A council spokeswoman pointed out the move will not differentiate between paper and electronic petitions.

In Redbridge 1,500 signatures are needed for a debate and in Newham there are 1,000 names required.