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Public questions at council meetings

1. Public participation

Citizens have the right to participate in the council's question time at ordinary meetings of the council.

2. Order of questions

Questions will be asked in the order notice of them was received, except that the person presiding may group together similar questions.

3. Notice of questions

A question may only be asked if notice has been given by delivering it in writing to the chief executive no later than midday 7 clear days before the day of the meeting. Each question must give the name and address of the questioner and must name the member of the council to whom it is to be put.

4. Number of questions

At any one meeting no person may submit more than one question and no more than one such question may be asked on behalf of one organisation.

5. Time allowed for questions

A period of 30 minutes shall be allowed for questions by members of the public, subject to the provisions of paragraph 10 of these rules.

6. Scope of questions

The chief executive may reject a question if it:-

  • is not about a matter for which the local authority has a responsibility or which affects the borough
  • is defamatory, frivolous or offensive
  • is substantially the same as a question which has been put at a meeting of the council in the past six months; or requires the disclosure of confidential or exempt information

7. Record of questions

The chief executive will enter each question in a book 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.

8. Asking the question at the meeting

The person presiding 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 person presiding to put the question on their behalf. The person presiding 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.

9. Supplemental question

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. The person presiding may reject a supplementary question on any of the grounds in Rule 6 above.

10. Written answers

Any question which cannot be dealt with during public question time, either because of lack of time or because of the non-attendance of the member to whom it was to be put, will be dealt with by a written answer.

11. Reference of question to the executive or a committee

Unless the person presiding decides otherwise, no discussion will take place on any question, but any member may move that a matter raised by a question be referred to the executive or the appropriate committee or sub-committee. Once seconded, such a motion will be voted on without discussion.

12. Asking a question

To ask a question, please contact Neil Picken, Principal Democratic Services Officer.

Contact Neil by email

Call: 01922 654369

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