Not many people know that the following extraordinarily democratic provision exists in England and Wales. It can be usefully exploited by activists on any number of issues. We need more of this kind of direct democracy.
Under the 1972 Local Government Act, civic Parish Councils in England (Community Councils in Wales) can vote to request their local District Council to hold a referendum on any issue of concern to the local parish.
Once the Parish Council has voted in favour, the District Council has to carry out the referendum.
1 - Choose the issue.
2 - Decide the wording of the question.
3 - With at least five other local parish residents, approach the Parish Council and request a Parish Council meeting.
4 - Advertise the meeting.
5 - At least 10 people must be present at the meeting, where a formal motion must be put forward to support a referendum (the wording of the referendum must be part of the resolution) and a vote taken.
6 - The motion can only be carried if a third of those present, or at least 10 (whichever is the least) vote in favour.
7 - Take the resolution to the District Council and submit a request for a referendum, invoking your right under Schedule 12, Part III, para.18(4) and (5) at page 2275 of the Local Government Act (1972). In Wales it is Schedule 12, Part V, para.34(4) and (5) at page 2279. The District Council must respond within a week and the referendum has to be held within 14-25 days of the request being submitted.
8 - Publicise the referendum and campaign for your cause.
Note, all those entitled to vote at local elections, including the parish councillors, are entitled to vote when the motion is tabled, with the person presiding having a casting vote, as per para18(1) and (3). Para 18(1) states that, "each local government elector may, at a parish meeting or at a poll consequent thereon, give one vote and no more on any question."
Getting the Council to do anything about the issue is, of course, the next step after winning the referendum, but your case will be strengthened with a democratic mandate.