Your democratic rights
Your rights as a resident
Residents have a number of important democratic rights to be informed and shape the way local decisions are made. Residents and those who work and study in the borough have a number of democratic rights to get involved in how the council is run. These rights are set out in the council's constitution, but are summarised below.
Right to know in advance topics for a decision by the Cabinet
Cabinet is the key decision-making body of the council. Our Forward Plan [1MB] lists all the issues that are expected to come up for decision by the Cabinet over the next four months. It is updated every month.
Right to receive agendas, reports and minutes of meetings
You have a general right to see all public agendas and reports considered formally by elected councillors five clear working days in advance of meetings.
Minutes and decisionsof those meetings are also available. Copies of agendas and reports can also be posted on request to Democratic Services by contacting 01895 250636 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Right to attend meetings
There is a longstanding right for residents and the public to attend meetings in Hillingdon.
Meetings of Planning Committees, the Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committees, Cabinet and the full council are all open to the public and many residents have the opportunity to speak at some of them, if they have submitted a valid petition.
Cabinet make all key decisions affecting the borough. Meetings are held in public each month and residents are welcome to attend and observe proceedings, but you may be politely asked to leave when business is considered towards the end of the meeting that may concern confidential matters. However, all of Cabinet's decisions, even those made in private, are available to view after the meeting.
Dates of all our meetings are advertised on our website, at the Civic Centre and in local libraries.
Right to put evidence to Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committees
Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committees exist to help the council develop its policies and they have a programme of subjects they wish to investigate.
They can invite people from outside the council to give evidence on an issue they are investigating. In this way they can obtain information from expertise from local people that might not have been available under previous governance arrangements.
Anyone invited to give evidence to an Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be given information and advice on how the process operates.
When a committee has finished its review of a particular subject it submits a written report to the Cabinet and these documents are publicly available. As well as helping to shape policies, the committees also have the power to "call in" and scrutinise a decision made by the Cabinet or a Cabinet member.
The Cabinet has the final say on a policy and on a called-in decision provided it acts within the policy framework approved by the full council.
Right to complain
We realise that sometimes things can go wrong. If they do, we want to hear from you so that we put them right and learn from what has happened. The council's complaints procedures includes the following rights:
right to an acknowledgement of your stage 1 complaint within three working days and a full reply within 10 days
if you are not satisfied, the right to take your complaint to stage 2 for consideration by the relevant corporate director
if you are still not satisfied, the right to take your complaint to stage 3 for consideration by the Chief Executive
if you remain dissatisfied with the Council's response, the right to take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman or Housing Ombudsman
Right to petition the council
Hillingdon Council's petition process enjoys high resident participation and satisfaction and, as a part of that process we promise to:
- value all petitions - residents' views are important to us
- give friendly advice - how to best pursue the issue that residents have
- make it easy - convenient ways to submit a petition to us
- keep you informed - update the petition organiser about a petition's progress
- let you have your say - enable residents to speak to and directly influence council decision-makers
The petition process allows local residents the right to speak in support of a petition to have direct influence on the decision making process and to raise concerns that are important to them. This right applies to any petition with 20 or more signatures of people who live, work or study in the borough.
Right to ask questions at council meetings
There is a right for members of the public to ask a direct question to the Leader or relevant Cabinet Members at meetings of the full council.
Right to lobby your local councillors
Often the most effective way to get across a point of concern is to contact the local councillors for the ward where you live and get them to take up the issue at the council. You can do this by:
- writing to them at their published addresses
- telephoning them if they have a publicly available number
- sending them an email
- visiting them at their regular ward surgeries
Councillors details, including where and when their ward surgeries are held, can be obtained from any local library.