Public Speaking at Committees

Which meetings can I speak at?

There are four committees that operate public speaking arrangements by which members of the public can register on notice to speak at committee meetings, either in the form of a question or a statement. These are the two Overview and Scrutiny Committees (time limited speaking in relation to an agenda item), the Planning Committee (time limited speaking in respect of an application before the committee) and the full Council (in the form of a question to the Executive).

The public speaking procedures for each body set out the arrangements for public speaking in detail but as a general principle public speaking would only apply to agenda items considered in public and not to items listed as 'exempt' or 'confidential'. 

Speaking at Planning Committee

The scheme for public speaking at Planning Committee only concerns matters relating to the determination of individual applications for planning permission contained in the Planning Committee agenda and not to other matters such as Tree Preservation Orders or Enforcement.

The scheme for public speaking will apply at each meeting where an individual application for planning permission is considered by the Planning Committee. Any person wishing to speak at the Planning Committee should submit a written request using this form and indicate clearly whether the speaker is in favour of, or opposed to, the planning application.

The form must be returned to Democratic Services no later than two working days prior to the meeting of the Planning Committee.

Speaking opportunities will be allocated on a first come, first served basis but with the applicant being given first chance of supporting the scheme. Applicants or agents will be notified of requests to speak. Third parties who have applied to speak will be notified of other requests only when these directly affect their application to speak. The names, addresses and telephone numbers of people who wish to speak may be given to other people who share their views and have expressed a wish to address the Committee. The identified speaker may defer to another at the discretion of the Chairman of the Committee.

One person will be allowed to speak in favour of, and one person allowed to speak against, each application. The maximum time limit will be three minutes per speaker. This does not affect a person’s right to speak at a site visit if the Committee decides one should be held.

Asking a Question at the full Council

Any member of the public may ask questions of members of the Cabinet at ordinary meetings of the Council. Questions will be asked in the order in which notice of them was received, except that the chairman may group together similar questions.

A question may only be asked if notice has been given by delivering it in writing or by electronic mail to the Proper Officer no later than 5.00 pm on the eighth working day before the day of the meeting. Each question must give the name and address of the questioner and must name the member of the Executive to whom it is to be put. The electronic version of the agenda on the internet will be updated with the questions that are received after the despatch of the agenda.

At any one meeting no person may submit more than one question and no more than one question may be asked on behalf of one organisation. A maximum of three minutes shall be allowed for the question to be read. The period for questions by the public shall be limited so that no further question shall be put after the elapse of 15 minutes from the commencement of the first question.

The Proper Officer may reject a question if  (a) it is not about a matter for which the local authority has a responsibility or which affects the district; (b) it is defamatory, frivolous or offensive; (c) it is substantially the same as a question which has been put at a meeting of the Council in the past six months; (d) it requires the disclosure of confidential or exempt information; or (e)  it relates to a personal issue or an individual case.

The Proper Officer will make a record of each question which is open to public inspection and will immediately send a copy of the question to the member to whom it is to be put. Rejected questions will include reasons for rejection. Copies of all questions will be circulated to all members and will be made available to the public attending the meeting.

The chairman will invite the questioner to put the question to the member named in the notice. If a questioner who has submitted a written question is unable to be present, they may ask the chairman to put the question on their behalf. The chairman may ask the question on the questioner's behalf, indicate that a written reply will be given or decide, in the absence of the questioner, that the question will not be dealt with.

A questioner who has put a question in person may also put one supplementary question without notice to the member who has replied to his or her original question. A supplementary question must arise directly out of the original question or the reply.

Speaking at Overview and Scrutiny Committees

It is the role of the Council's two Overview and Scrutiny Committees to hold the Council's Cabinet to account. As part of this, a member of the public can register to speak on an agenda item. They must address their speech to the item they have registered to speak upon on the agenda and cannot address other agenda items or unrelated business. The right of the public to speak, or indeed to attend, does not apply to business on the agenda in respect of which a resolution to exclude the press and public for the consideration of confidential or exempt business has been carried. For further information on confidential and exempt business please consult Part 4 (Access to Information Procedure Rules) of the Council’s Consultation.


Contact Democratic Services

Tel: 01304 872303 / 872304 / 872305