Public Participation at Waverley Community Council Meetings
A Community Council Meeting - The following may offer some assistance to members of the public to understand how a Council meeting works.
The role of the Community Council - The Community Council is a local authority that makes all kinds of decisions on behalf of the people on issues that affect the local community, most commonly planning matters, managing the community garden and campaigning for and delivering better services and facilities.
Meetings of the Community Council are not public meetings but members of the public have a statutory right to attend meetings of the council as observers. They have no legal right to speak unless the Council's Chairman authorises them to do so. However, as part of its community engagement, the WCC sets out a time for public participation at an agreed time when members of the public are invited to speak. We hope that you will find Council meetings useful and if you have any queries, please consult the Clerk.
Are residents allowed to speak or contribute? - The law does not allow members of the public to take part in the debates. However, the WCC will allow members of the public the opportunity to speak following a temporary adjournment of the meeting at the beginning. Public participation is an opportunity for members of the public to (a) make representations, (b) answer questions or (c) give evidence relating to the business to be transacted. Please study the agenda carefully so that when the opportunity occurs you can make the best use of your time.
If you wish to raise a point, which does not relate to an item on that evening's agenda, you are free to do so during the public participation. However, the council's discussion of the point might have to be delayed until a subsequent meeting, as the council is unable to make a decision binding 'in law (this is particularly relevant to financial decisions) unless a specific item is included on the agenda.
Procedure for a member of the public to speak or raise issues at Council meetings? - If at all possible or feasible, make a call prior to the meeting to the Clerk to inform you wish to speak or raise an issue at a forthcoming Council meeting. This is because, if there is information the Clerk can bring along to the meeting or research before the meeting which may help with the query or the Councillors – the Clerk will be able to do this.
Members of the council are always willing to discuss topics put forward by the public. Our agenda is prepared about a week before the next council meeting so you will need to inform the Clerk about 10 days prior to the meeting. Although this might seem a long time in advance, the council is required by law to publicise its agenda at least three clear days before each meeting. Only business contained within the agenda can be considered at the meeting.
The time for the public to speak is limited to 15 minutes. A question raised by a member of the public during a public speaking session shall not require a response and there should be no debate or discussion between the Council and the public. The Chairman has the right to say that any question or statement is inappropriate and will not be accepted.
Neither Councillors nor the Clerk should be put under pressure to respond immediately to comments made under public participation. Members of the public do not have a right to force items onto the council agenda nor to insist on how matters are recorded in the minutes. A brief record of topics raised at public participation may be included in the minutes of that meeting.
The Annual Parish meeting
All Town and Parish Councils throughout England are required by law to hold an Annual Parish Meeting, which must take place between 1 March and the 1 June (inclusive).
The purpose of the meeting is to give the WCC, and other local organisations an opportunity to let local residents know what they have been doing over the past year. The meeting is also an opportunity for electors to have a say on anything they consider valuable to the people of the Parish.
The meeting can also be an opportunity for local groups, clubs, societies and other voluntary and statutory organisations to provide an exhibition and/or have representatives from the group address those present at the meeting about the work they do and what they are involved in.
The Annual Parish Meeting is for all electors of the Parish of Waverley. It is not a meeting of the WCC. Anyone is welcome to attend the meeting however, only registered electors of the parish may speak and vote during the meeting.
Any registered elector may ask a question of the WCC which will usually be answered by the Chair, the Clerk or the Council, or a designated Councillor. An elector may also make a suggestion and comment on anything pertinent to the residents of the Parish. This will be welcomed and is the whole purpose of the meeting.
The Chairman of the Council will chair the meeting, and all member of the WCC will be invited to attend. They will usually present the updates on current projects.
The agenda calling the meeting is published 7 clear days before the meeting. The agendas and reports for meetings are available online. The minutes of the proceedings of the Annual Parish Meeting shall be drawn up and entered in a book provided for the purpose. The minutes shall be reviewed and signed at the next Annual Parish Meeting. In general, the meeting will last no longer than two hours.