A COUNCILLOR is warning people not to be "misled" on a popular petition hosting website and urging people to register objections directly to city planners.

Andy Roberts, Worcestershire county councillor for Warndon Parish, is highlighting the issue after a resident in his ward contacted him saying she had lost more than £100 after mistakenly signing up to support change.org, thinking they were making a donation to the petition organisers.

Cllr Roberts said the woman, who does not wished to be identified, had told him she saw the petition against the building of up to 50 homes on the former Tolladine golf course in Darwin fields a year ago and was one of more than 500 that signed it.

But wanting to go further in her support she thought she was donating £10 to the campaign, when in fact she was signing up to a £10 monthly subscription supporting the US-based campaign site.

Cllr Roberts said: "The woman has now stopped that payment.

"The way change.org works, it can be confusing, you can find yourself thinking you are supporting a local action but it turns out you are paying a direct debit subscription to change.org."

The councillor said it was a little "misleading" especially to someone not technically minded.

Cllr Roberts added: "It is not an obvious thing when you are filling it out.

"People who sign up to petitions like this think they are objecting to the proposals, they absolutely are not.

"If you are going to object make it to the planning authority.

"The application was rejected (in June) but this petition wasn't even submitted to the planning authority, so the planners wouldn't have even known about it.

"I wonder how many others are making monthly payments by mistake?"

A spokesman for Change.org said: "Change.org is funded by the people who use our platform through our membership program.

"These contributions help us build the free technology.

"When people sign up to start a membership, the payment form explicitly states that this is a membership to Change.org. Anyone can cancel their membership at any time.

"We will happily cancel this woman's membership and refund her."