Public participation and proceedings

The process for speaking at a Local Area Committee

Public Participation

At the beginning of a 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 can put their view on issues that fall within the Committee's terms of reference or issues that would be of interest to the Committee. This is also the case for other Committees.

Public participation is also allowed under agenda items when planning applications are considered and reports presented. You may be interested in addressing the Local Area Committee meeting if you are the applicant or agent, a near neighbour or have an interest in the proposal that is before committee.

For virtual meetings held online, the Council is not able to arrange for members of the public to participate on any items at short notice (i.e. on the night of the meeting). The meeting agenda and neighbour notification letter will provide the deadlines for contacting the Council if you wish to participate, depending on the chosen method for having your say (see below for options).

Options for Participation during Live Events (virtual meetings)

Due to the technology available, members of the public wishing to speak live at a committee meeting can do so if they have the necessary IT equipment (including a reliable internet connection) and agree to the broadcasting and recording of their participation. Alternative options are:

  • providing a written statement in advance to be read on your behalf by a Council spokesperson
  • providing a pre-recorded statement to Democratic Services in advance of the meeting.

The deadlines for notifying Democratic Services regarding these options will be included in the meeting agenda and range from 2 to 4 working days depending on the option. Please email for further details.

How long can I speak?

A question or statement made on a matter that is not on the agenda 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, people wishing to speak in support will each have three minutes to speak, likewise for objectors.

Key pointers for having your say

  • 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; and please do not repeat comments made by 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

The agenda sets out all the items to be considered and is produced seven days before the meeting. Most agenda items consist of a 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.

Planning Applications

The Planning Officer will present and explain the proposals. The Chair will then invite any members of the public to speak followed by the applicant or their representative. 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. The planning officer will be given opportunity to respond to points raised where necessary.

Once this session has been completed the Chair will open the meeting for debate at the end of which the committee will make a decision.

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. If it is seconded by another Councillor the proposal becomes the substantive recommendation. 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.

Exempt Items

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.

If you require any further assistance, please contact us on 023 8068 8000 or email

Recording of the virtual meeting

The recorded Live Event will be hosted online for at least 12 months to enable the committee meeting to be watched by those unable to view the live broadcast.