Across the UK, local authorities are responsible for maintaining their parks, and providing facilities such as play equipment, tennis courts and water fountains. So if you’d like to see water fountains in your local park, you need to persuade your local council, and one of the easiest ways to do this is using a petition.
The instructions below should help you to set up your own petition without any problems. However, if you have trouble, or would just like someone to help you through any part of the process, please contact Christine at the Children’s Food Campaign on 020 7837 1228 or Christine@sustainweb.org.
How to set up a petition to your local council
1. Check that there isn’t one already
Petitions for more water fountains have already been set up in:
We will try to keep this list up to date, so please let us know if you set up a petition to your local council.
Please note that if you live in an area with two-tier local government, you need to check whether it’s your district or county council that has responsibility for park services. Usually the district council has responsibility for local parks, while the county council manages county parks, but it’s worth checking as it can vary. If you’re unsure, check the name of the council on the signs at your local park.
2. Check whether your council has its own online petition system
A few councils have their own petition scheme which allows you to set up a petition on their website. The easiest way to check whether your council does is to visit its website and enter “petition” into the search facility – if it does, it will usually come up in the first few search results.
3. Set up your petition
You can download a template for a paper petition here (as a Word document). A paper petition is a good idea if you want to collect signatures from parents at the school gates or from members of the public using your local park. You might want to use a combination of both an online petition and a paper petition to try and get the most signatories.
If your council has its own petition system, it should guide you through the steps to setting one up. Usually the process is something like this:
a) Start by clicking “Set up a new e-petition”.
b) Register your email address and select a password that allows you to come back and view details about your petition, and the council to contact you.
c) Provide a title for the petition – something like “Drinking fountains for Thirstyville’s parks”. You might also be given some options of issues already included in the council’s plans that might be relevant to your petition.
d) You then fill in details of the petition, which usually consists of what you’re asking the council to do, and any extra information. You can fill these in using whatever words you want, but if you get stuck, the following may help:
Petition text: We the undersigned petition the Council to install, maintain and signpost drinking water fountains in Thirstyville’s parks to enable people to quench their thirst in a healthy and sustainable way.
Additional information: Health professionals tell us that the increased consumption of sugary drinks by children and young people is a significant factor in the alarming rise of obesity rates. Providing drinking water in parks and other places where children and young people play and congregate would be a great way to encourage hydration without damaging their health or the environment.
e) You might also be asked to select an end date for the petition, usually within 12 months. Again, you can choose a date that suits you, but we suggest you make it in a few months time, to allow plenty of time to collect signatures.
f) Your petition will then be checked to see that it doesn’t contain things like discriminatory or inflammatory statements, or advertising. Once this has been done (this may take a day or two), it will go up on the council’s website for people to sign. Don’t forget to sign it yourself!
If your council doesn’t have its own petition system, there are various online tools you can use to set one up; we recommend Louder. Here’s how to set up a petition on their site:
a) Go to http://www.louder.org.uk/ and click “register” in the top right hand corner.
b) Enter a user name and your email address into the boxes, and tick the box to show you agree with the terms and conditions. Click “Register”, and you will see a screen with the message “Thank you…you will now receive an email with your password”.
c) Check your emails for your password and a link to sign in to your area of the site. Click on the link in the email and log in using the user name you have just chosen and the password in the email. (You may want to change the password to something more memorable, once you’ve logged in, by clicking “edit profile” on the right hand side, and then selecting “edit registration details” on the left.)
d) At this stage you may be invited to update your details with your name, date of birth, personal information and a photo, although you don’t have to. Once you’ve finished, click “my profile” on the top left. (To go back and update these details at a later date, click “edit profile” on the right.)
e) Now you’re ready to set up your campaign petition. Click “create new campaign” on the top left.
f) Enter the following details. We’ve provided suggestions, but feel free to think of your own.
- Campaign title: something like “Drinking fountains for Thirstyville’s parks”
- Name to appear in URL: something quite short like “thirstyvilleparkfountains” – make sure you include the name of your area, as other people may have set up petitions for drinking water fountains in other areas.
- Short description: “Campaign for drinking water fountains in Thirstyville’s parks”
- Full description: “Health professionals tell us that the increased consumption of sugary drinks by children and young people is a significant factor in the alarming rise of obesity rates. Providing drinking water in parks and other places where children and young people play and congregate would be a great way to encourage hydration without damaging their health or the environment. We want Thirstyville Council to install and maintain drinking water fountains in all its parks.”
- Campaign logo: You can make up your own if you like, or use ours by copying it from here.
- Keywords: you might want to include the name of your council, “drinking water”, “fountain”, “children”, “park”.
- Then click “submit”
g) Now click “Add new tools” from the menu on the left. Select “online petition” and another tool (you have to choose two, although you don’t have to use them both) by clicking on the green + sign at the top right hand side of each logo. These tools will then appear in the menu on the left hand side, under “Tools for public campaign page”.
h) To design your petition, click on “Online petition” under “Tools for public campaign page” on the left. Fill in the following details. Again, we’ve provided suggestions, but feel free to think of your own.
- Petition title: something like “Drinking fountains for Thirstyville’s parks”
- Petition description: This should say clearly what you want the council to do: install and maintain water fountains in its parks – something like: “We the undersigned petition Thirstyville Council to install, maintain and signpost drinking water fountains in its parks to enable people to quench their thirst in a healthy and sustainable way.”
- Viral email: Edit the text provided with details of what the petition is for (i.e. “to get drinking water fountains in Thirstyville’s parks”). Leave the space for the web address – this will be completed automatically.
- External link: either your own site, such as a Facebook page where you mention the campaign, or http://www.sustainweb.org/childrensfoodcampaign/waterinparks
i) Tick where it says “Tick this box to display this tool” and then click “Make live” at the top of the page.
j) Your petition should now be live! Click “view your homepage” on the left to see it. To edit it further, click “dashboard” in the top right corner, and use the options on the left.
Now your petition is ready to be signed!
Promoting your petition
We will help you promote your petition by putting it on our website and asking our supporters that live in your area to sign it. But you probably have much better contacts where you live than we do, so please ask anyone you know who lives, works or studies in your local authority to sign it.
You could ask friends, families, neighbours, colleagues, and parents at your child’s school or nursery. You might also be able to think of some local community groups that might support the campaign and be happy to promote the petition to their members, such as toddler groups, a local Friends of the Earth or Transition Town group, or your local place of worship.
If you’re struggling to think of a way of explaining your petition in an email or on your Facebook page, you might want to use or adapt one (or more) of the following examples:
- Help get drinking water in our parks!
- I think that everyone, particularly children, should be able to get free drinking water when they’re out and about in parks or other public spaces. Please sign this petition for more drinking fountains in [your council]’s parks.
- I’m supporting the Children’s Food Campaign’s work to get drinking fountains in every park. Please sign my petition to [your council] at [link to your petition] to help persuade them that to install fountains in our parks.
And if you need any help at all with your petition, please don’t hesitate to contact Christine at the Children’s Food Campaign on 020 7837 1228 or Christine@sustainweb.org