Have your say
The Council is committed to listening to the views of the public and taking these into account in its decision making processes. If you want to express your views there are two ways you can do this:
You can consult any Member of the authority on any subject but you are most likely to be satisfied:
- for problems in a given area, if you contact the Member for that area
- for problems on a specific issue, if you contact the Executive/Cabinet Member responsible for that issue
Attending meetings - committee etiquette
All meetings of the Council are open to the public and you may come and go during the meeting as you wish, provided that this does not disrupt proceedings. On occasions, the public and the press may be asked to leave the meeting if material of a commercially confidential or other sensitive nature is being considered. This will be considered an exception and will not be a regular occurrence in meetings. Depending on where the meeting is being held there may be a public viewing gallery which is readily accessible. On other occasions, chairs will be provided at the rear of the room where the meeting is being held. You are encouraged to use the facilities that are provided and not to worry about moving about when speakers are talking provided that you do so quietly. In some cases, the door to the meeting room may be shut to keep out external noise. Please feel free to open the door and walk in without being invited, unless there is a notice on the door prohibiting this.
- Questions may be asked during ‘Public Question Time’ at any of the Council’s meetings.
- The amount of time allowed for public questions is fifteen minutes, although this may be extended by the Chairman at their discretion.
- Questions may be asked without notice but to guarantee a full reply at the meeting, the question must be delivered in writing or by email to Democratic Services no later than two clear working days prior to the start of the meeting. Each question must give the name and address of the questioner. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- If a written question has been submitted the questioner cannot also ask an oral question at the same meeting as there are separate arrangements for submitting oral questions at meetings of Council and Executive/Cabinet.
- The front desk “opens” for public wishing to attend the meeting half an hour before the meeting.
- When signing in at the front desk as attending a Council or Executive/Cabinet meeting each member of the public is asked whether they wish to ask an oral question at the meeting AND/OR if the member of the public indicates themselves that they wish to ask an oral question.
- In the circumstances that a member of the public wishes to ask an oral question, they will be given a form to complete which details their name, town/village of residence, email address and the topic of the question (not the question in full, unless they wish to provide this).
- These forms will be numbered in the order they are handed back.
- The time for registering questions will be for a 20 minute period (up to 10 minutes prior to the start of the meeting). After that time expires the forms will be collected and given to the Chairman of the meeting.
- If time allows after dealing with any written questions, the Chairman will then ask those who have submitted a form to put their question. These will be in the order they were received. As the subject matter is known, the Chairman should be able to indicate which member will reply.
- The option to ask a supplementary question will be at the Chairman’s discretion.
- Once the defined period of time allowed for questions has passed (and assuming the Chairman has not extended this) then all remaining oral questions are left unanswered.
- No oral question will receive a guaranteed written response, unless the member responding indicates as such.
- Questions must be of relevance to the Council or, in the case of a committee, to the remit of that committee and you may only ask one question unless the Chairman decides otherwise.
- The Chairman is solely responsible for this part of the meeting and may use his powers to rule any question out of order for the following reasons:
- if the above procedures are not followed
- if the language used is not acceptable
- if the question duplicates a previous question at the same meeting
- if the matter raised is the subject of current or impending legal proceedings
- if the matter would require the disclosure of exempt proceedings
Recording at meetings
The Council has issued guidance on the recording of proceedings at meetings that are open to the public.
This guidance applies to any Council or Executive/Cabinet meeting and committee meetings that are open to the public. The council allows any member of the public or press to report on all public meetings subject to limited exceptions outlined below. The term reporting includes the taking of photographs, filming, audio-recording, tweeting, blogging or generally reporting on proceedings. The purpose of this protocol is to provide guidance, particularly, for members of the press or public on reporting of any council meeting which is held in public.