UK-wide, national, and regional referendums

The Local Authorities (Referendums) (Petitions and Directions) (England) Regulations 2011 (as amended) establishes a legal framework for the conduct of any referendum held across the UK or in Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland. It also applies to regional referendums within England.

Governance referendums

The Local Government Act 2000 sets out the governance arrangements for local authorities in England and Wales. Most local authorities, except some of the smaller district councils, operate "executive arrangements". Two types of executive arrangements are set out in the Act - a directly-elected mayor and cabinet, or a leader, who is elected as leader of the executive by the authority, and cabinet.

We currently operate a leader and cabinet form of executive.

The act, and supporting regulations, require a local authority that receives a petition that complies with the regulations to hold a referendum on whether the authority should have the governance arrangements proposed in the petition.

Local residents can require a referendum on prescribed constitutional changes (for example, from leader and cabinet executive to mayor and cabinet executive) by organising a petition signed by five per cent of the local government electors on the electoral register.

In accordance with Regulation 4(1) of the above regulations, the number that is equal to 5% of the number of local government electors shown in the revised register of electors having effect on the 15 February 2023 is 4,140 (lower than the published figure for 2022).

This figure will have effect for the purposes of determining the validity of petitions presented to the Council from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024.

The number equal to 5% of the local government electors for 2024 will be published within 14 days of the 15 February 2024. If this number is less than 4,140 the number to be used for verification purposes in relation to any petition submitted for the period beginning on the date of publication of the lower number until 31 March 2023 shall also be that lower number.

Further information is available on the Electoral Commission website.

Submitting a call for a referendum

Send petitions to:
Democratic Services
Scarborough Borough Council
Town Hall
St Nicholas Street
YO11 2HG

Contact us via email

Other referendums

Referendums are used by some local councils to test public opinion on local issues. These are not regulated by law.