All council and committee meetings are open to the press and public.
However, a meeting may move into private session by law if "exempt" information would be disclosed. This could relate to:
- A particular recipient of a council service
- The financial or business affairs of a particular person other than the council
- The amount the council might spend under any particular contract
Public speaking and question time
We give the public a chance to make statements or ask questions at every council and committee meeting, except for the annual council, licensing sub-committee, appeals, standards sub-committee and the scrutiny committee when considering a decision call-in.
If you can't attend the meeting, your question or statement will be circulated to the committee but won't be read out.
Questions and statements must relate to a matter within our remit or in relation to committees with an agenda item.
The rules for speakers are:
- The chairman will invite you to stand/sit in location where you can be clearly heard
- Speakers will be taken in the order in which their written notices were received
- You can speak for up to three minutes
- Supplementary questions will be allowed for a maximum of two minutes
- You must not interrupt speakers or speak during the committee's debate
If you ask a question, the chairman will respond, or ask another member to respond verbally. If you make a statement, the chairman may ask an officer to comment on what you've said.
The time allowed for statements, questions and responses is usually no more than 30 minutes. Questions not answered in the time allowed will be given a written answer within five working days of the meeting.
Questions must be received by no later than 9.30am on the day of the meeting.
Some questions will be rejected. For example, if it's not a council matter, is defamatory, frivolous or offensive in the monitoring officer's opinion, or if a member or officer is personally attacked.
Exempt and confidential information
While questions may be asked on matters dealt with in private session, no exempt or confidential information can be disclosed when responding to those questions.
As well as attending the public session of meetings, you're also entitled to:
- Inspect the agenda and reports taken in public session
- Inspect a public written summary of any proceedings held in private
- Inspect any papers listed as "background documents" at the bottom of a report open for public inspection
- Be supplied with photocopies of the above documents. There may be a small charge
- Inspect lists of names and addresses of district councillors and their electoral wards, memberships of committees, powers delegated to officers and the schedule of meetings
Further information can be found in the council's constitution.