Public participation and proceedings
The process for speaking at a Local Area Committee
At the beginning of the Local Area Committee meeting there are 15 minutes allocated for comments or questions about issues not on the agenda. During this time members of the public have the opportunity to put their view on issues that fall within the Committee's terms of reference or issues that would be of interest to the Committee. A question or statement should not exceed three minutes. Issues raised are not discussed by Councillors but are answered by the Chair or Officers where possible. A written answer is provided at a later date if a satisfactory verbal response cannot be given.
For agenda items, a total time of five minutes for and five minutes against is permitted for all public speakers i.e. if there are five people wishing to speak in support they will each have one minute to speak, likewise for objectors.
If you would like to speak at a meeting, you should:
- Let a member of staff know in advance that you wish to speak, either by phone, email, letter, or on the night, before the meeting starts.
- Prepare your statement or questions beforehand – this will help you to put your point across clearly and simply.
- Try to relax – the Committee is interested in what you have to say. Direct your comments and questions to the Chair.
- Speak slowly and clearly, stating your name and address, in case we need to respond to you later in writing.
- Be brief and to the point; there is no need to repeat comments from previous speakers.
- Remember these are not ‘public meetings’ where the Council staff and Councillors enter into debate with the public, these are meetings ‘open to the public’.
The agenda sets out all the items to be considered and is produced seven days before the meeting. Most agenda items consist of a brief report written by a Council Officer usually containing one or more recommendations. Where an item contains confidential information, such as financial information about private firms, legal or personnel matters, no details will be included with the public agenda.
The procedures and rules of debate are contained within the our Constitution. The 'Chair' is responsible for ensuring that the orderly running of the meeting is in line with these rules.
The Planning Officer will present and explain the proposals. The Chair will then invite any members of the public to speak. If it is apparent that a number of people wish to express a view a spokesperson is encouraged. Normally you are only allowed to speak once on an agenda item. You should address the meeting only when called by the Chair who will ensure all sides are given an opportunity to speak. When speaking please avoid repeating what has already been stated but do indicate if you agree or disagree with previous speakers.
Once this session has been completed the Chair will open the meeting for debate.
What happens during the debate?
After the Public Participation session, Councillors will debate the issue and further public participation is not allowed. A Councillor will make a proposal and is allowed up to ten minutes to speak. If it is seconded by another Councillor the proposal becomes a Motion. Other Councillors are each allowed up to five minutes to speak and will not usually speak again on the item. A Legal Officer may be present to advise on points of law and the Democratic Services Officer will advise on procedure. Once the debate has finished the proposer of the original motion will sum up and a vote is taken.
Usually these are presented by the report author. Members of the public are then invited for their views. The time permitted for the public to speak is again five minutes for and five minutes against the proposals.
Councillors may make a proposal to the Committee for action on an issue. The Committee will decide whether to adopt, amend or not support the motion.
Some items may need to be treated confidentially and cannot be discussed in public. If this is the case, and the Committee agrees, a Motion will be passed to exclude the press and public who will then be asked to leave the room.
Minutes of the meeting
The minutes of the meeting record decisions made at the meeting. These will include how many people spoke for or against each item, but will not include any details. Minutes are published within 7 days of the meeting.
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