Council provisions relating to Public Forum section of Council Agendas

Council provisions relating to Public Forum section of Council Agendas

Extract from Parish Council Standing Orders (adopted January 2020)

Parish Council Policy as to the form of the Public Forum element of Parish Council agendas (not applying to meetings held online)

1.4.1 Meetings shall be open to the public unless their presence is prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted or for other special reasons. The public’s exclusion from part or all of a meeting shall be by a resolution which shall give reasons for the public’s exclusion.

1.4.2 The agenda for ordinary meetings of the council shall include an opportunity for members of the public to address the meeting, subject to the following standing orders. This provision supplements the other ways by which members of the public may bring to the notice of the council a question or comment – e.g.
• by writing to the Clerk,
• by contacting a member of the council outside the meeting, or
• by attending a councillors’ surgery session.

1.4.3 Should the subject of the proposed question or comment pertain to an item on that meeting’s agenda, the member of the public will normally be permitted to address the meeting at that part of the agenda set aside for this purpose, in accordance with standing order 1.4.4 – 1.4.7. In relation to any other request from a member of the public to address the meeting the following process shall be followed (unless exceptional circumstances apply, where the decision as to the exceptional nature of the matter is a matter solely for the Chair of the meeting):

(a) The Clerk is to be informed in writing (including by email) no less than 10 clear days before the next meeting of the council of the nature of the question or comment proposed to be made by the member of the public. The period of 10 clear days does not include the day of the meeting, a Sunday, a day of the Christmas break or Easter break or a bank holiday, or a day appointed for public thanksgiving or mourning.

(b) The Chair of the council (or in their absence the Vice-Chair if there be one) in association with the Clerk shall decide in advance of the council meeting whether the question or comment is relevant and timely and that the topic should be included on the council’s meeting agenda. Requests to address the meeting will not be accepted if they are deemed by the Chair in association with the Clerk to be irrelevant to the operation of the council, not timely, vexatious, repetitious, or if the topic raised may be dealt with more appropriately in another way. It may be that such requests to speak are retained by the Clerk until the topic of the proposed address is considered timely and relevant, in particular when the topic is one that is to be considered by the council.

1.4.4 The period of time designated for public participation at a meeting in accordance with standing order 1.4.2 shall not exceed 15 minutes (unless otherwise directed by the Chair of the meeting).

1.4.5 Subject to standing order 1.4.3, a member of the public shall not speak for more than 3 minutes.

1.4.6 A person shall raise their hand when requesting to speak and may be required by the Chair of the meeting to stand when speaking.

1.4.7 A person who speaks at a meeting shall direct their comments to the Chair of the meeting.

1.5 Disorderly conduct at meetings

1.5.1 No person shall obstruct the transaction of business at a meeting or behave offensively or improperly. If this standing order is ignored, the Chair of the meeting shall request such person(s) to moderate or improve their conduct. If this request is ignored, the Chair may, after warning, order that they be removed from the meeting and may adjourn the meeting for such a period as necessary to restore order, or may close the meeting.