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Information about the different types of referendums

A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal.

Below is more detail on referendums in general.

There are several types of referendums:

UK-wide, national and regional referendums

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) establishes a fixed legal framework for the conduct of any referendum held across the UK, or a referendum held in Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland. It also applies to regional referendums within England. No referendums have yet been held under this legislation. However, a recent Act of Parliament has enabled the holding of referendums on regional assemblies in England.

The first UK-wide referendum took place on Thursday 5 May 2011. The referendum was on the voting system used for elections to the UK Parliament. The question put to voters was: "The UK uses the ’first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead?" The voting public voted 'No'.

In 2016 there was a UK wide referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union. The Rushcliffe result can be viewed on the EU Referendum page.

Mayoral referendums

The Local Government Act 2000 set out a major change in the way local authorities in England and Wales are run. Most local authorities, except some of the smaller district councils in the area of a county council, operate 'executive arrangements'. There are three types of executive arrangement set out in the Act, two of which involve a directly elected mayor: mayor and cabinet, and mayor and council manager. The other involves a leader (who is elected by councillors) and cabinet, and this is the system operated at Rushcliffe.

Local authorities consult on which arrangements local people want. If there is a proposal to have a mayor, the local authority must hold a binding referendum. Many councils in England conducted consultations with local people on this issue. Local residents can also require a mayoral referendum by organising a petition signed by 5% of local electors or more.

Neighbourhood Planning Referendums

The Localism Act 2011 amended the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and provides for a neighbourhood planning regime.

  • It allows parish councils and groups of people from the community to formulate Neighbourhood development Plans and Orders, which can guide and shape development.
  • It is intended to shape rather than stop development.

Below are details of upcoming or recently held Neighbourhood Planning Referendums in the borough.

Neighbourhood Plan Referendum Publicity (Campaigning) and Expenses Note

The note set out below is the Council’s understanding of the current position and is given in good faith, but any individual group or parish council should satisfy itself that any actions are consistent with relevant guidance and regulations and may wish to take its own advice on these matters.


Section 5 of the Neighbourhood Planning (Referendums) Regulations 2012 places restrictions on the publication of promotional material in relation to a Neighbourhood Planning Referendum.

This restricts the “relevant council” (Rushcliffe Borough Council) from producing any material that provides general information about the referendum; that deals with any of the issues raised by the question to be asked at referendum; or puts any arguments for or against a particular answer to that question during the referendum period.

However this does not apply to material that is required to be made available as set out in section 4 of the Neighbourhood Planning (Referendums) Regulations 2012 which includes;

  • an information statement
  • the draft neighbourhood plan
  • the examiner’s report
  • a summary of representations received at submission stage
  • a statement setting out that the local planning authority are satisfied the plan meets the basic conditions
  • a statement setting out general information as to town and country planning and neighbourhood planning. Nor does it apply to the publication of press notices containing factual information where the sole purpose is to refute or correct any inaccuracy in material published by any other person.

Further to the above, the Council can publish press notices containing factual information where the sole purpose of their publication is to refute or correct any inaccuracy in material by a person other than the relevant council.

Town and Parish Councils are not the “relevant council” (as defined in paragraph 14 (3) of Schedule 4B to the 1990 Act) and are therefore not directly restricted by the 2012 Neighbourhood Planning (Referendum) Regulations 2012.

The District Council is not directly responsible for the actions of an individual Town or Parish Council. However Town and Parish Councils are required by Section 4(1) of the Local Government Act 1986 to have regard to The Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity. The code pre-dated the introduction of Neighbourhood Plans however a part which is considered to be relevant and thus should be taken into account states:

“In general, local authorities should not issue any publicity which seeks to influence voters. However this general principle is subject to any statutory provision which authorises expenditure being incurred on the publication of material designed to influence the public as to whether to support or oppose a question put at a referendum. It is acceptable to publish material relating to the subject matter of a referendum, for example to correct any factual inaccuracies which have appeared in publicity produced by third parties, so long as this is even-handed and objective and does not support or oppose any of the options which are the subject of the vote”


A campaign organiser, either an individual or group wishing to conduct a campaign with a view to promoting or procuring a particular outcome in relation to the question to be asked in the referendum is subject to an expenses limit.

Sections 6 and 7 of the Neighbourhood Planning (Referendum) Regulations 2012 set out the limit that may be spent on referendum expenses and the penalty for non-compliance. A maximum of £2,362 plus £0.059 for each entry in the relevant register of electors may be spent by campaign organisers in connection with a referendum campaign. The exact amount allowed for each referendum area will be published in the Information Statement or may be obtained from Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Electoral Services team – email or call 0115 981 9911.

Schedule 2 of the Neighbourhood Planning (Referendum) Regulations 2012 (as amended) states that expenses mean the expenses incurred by or on behalf of any individual or body during the referendum period in relation to:

  • Advertising of any nature
  • Unsolicited material addressed to voters
  • Information about the referendum, information about the question, arguments for and against
  • Market research or canvassing
  • Provision of any property, services or facilities in connection with press conferences or dealings with the media
  • Transport (by any means) of persons to anywhere with a view to obtaining publicity in connection with a referendum campaign
  • Rallies and other events, including public meetings
  • Expenses also include any notional expenses where property, services or facilities are provided free of charge or at a discount.

The referendum period starts on the date which the information statement is published. This is not fewer than 28 days before the date on which the referendum will be held. The referendum period ends on the date on which the referendum is held.

Campaigning groups are encouraged to register with and submit a statement of expenses to the:

Counting Officer via Electoral Services,

Rushcliffe Borough Council,

Rushcliffe Arena,

Rugby Road,

West Bridgford,

Nottingham NG2 7YG.

It is an offence for a campaign organiser to exceed the referendum expenses limits and if found guilty would be liable to a fine of up to £5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 12 months.



Other referendums

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

Further information on referendums is available on the Electoral Commission website.



Neighbourhood Planning Referendums

Hickling Parish Neighbourhood Planning Referendum

The Hickling Parish Neighbourhood Plan Referendum was held on Thursday 3 March 2022.

The Specified Documents are:


Ruddington Neighbourhood Planning Referendum

The Ruddington Neighbourhood Plan Referendum was held on Thursday 22 July 2021.


Ruddington - Declaration of result of Referendum

The Specified Documents are:


Colston Bassett Neighbourhood Planning Referendum

The Colston Bassett Neighbourhood Plan Referendum was held on Thursday 6 May 2021.


The Specified Documents are:


Gotham Neighbourhood Planning Referendum

The Gotham Neighbourhood Plan Referendum was held on Thursday 30 January 2020.

Notice of result

Gotham declaration of result

Notice of Poll

Notice of Poll - Gotham 30 January 2020

Notice of Referendum

Notice of Referendum - Gotham 30 January 2020

The Specified Documents are:


Upper Broughton Neighbourhood Planning Referendum

The Upper Broughton Neighbourhood Plan Referendum was held on Thursday 30 January 2020.

Notice of Result

 Upper Broughton Declaration of result

Notice of Poll

Notice of Poll - Upper Broughton 30 January 2020

Notice of Referendum

Notice of Referendum - Upper Broughton 30 January 2020

The Specified Documents are:



Publication of Verification Number

Rushcliffe Borough Council

The Local Authorities (Referendums)(Petitions)(England) Regulations 2011

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 2024 is:


This figure will have effect for the purposes of determining the validity of Petitions presented from 1 April 2024 to 31 March 2025.

The number equal to 5% of the local government electors for 2025 will be published within 14 days of the 15 February 2025.  If this number is less than 4576, 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 2025 shall also be that lower number.


Katherine Marriott

Electoral Registration Officer

Rushcliffe Borough Council

Rushcliffe Arena

Rugby Road

West Bridgford




3 February 2023



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