The parish council meets and makes its decisions in public and is committed to community engagement and therefore warmly invites members of the public, the press, the police and ward Councillors to attend meetings and contribute within the ‘open session’. A council meeting is not a public meeting; it is a meeting held in public and there is no requirement in law to provide an opportunity for the public to question the council, but the parish council welcomes the opportunity to offer it.
Public participation is permitted regarding items on any topic within the remit of the parish council. Written questions received in advance of the meeting are encouraged but not essential: if provided in advance this will make it easier for an answer to be prepared. The parish council will not enter into any substantive discussion on a question raised if it is unable to answer a question directly. If members of the public are unsure whether a question is within the remit of the parish council, then the Clerk will be able to answer this.
Public participation will take place early on in the agenda during the ‘open session’ so that Councillors may take into account views expressed when reaching decisions. If a question relates to a topic on the agenda then the Chairman may decide to address it immediately or carry it forward for a response at a later date. The parish council also provides an opportunity via the agenda for the police and ward Councillors to attend and report to meetings and respond to any questions or queries from the council.
The Chairman may also, at his or her discretion, invite a member of the public to speak on an agenda item during the parish council meeting if, in the opinion of the Chairman, that individual has relevant information not available to the parish council which will help in its deliberations.
Members of the public are asked to respect the fact that this is a meeting to conduct council business and interruptions during council business are not permitted. If, in the opinion of the Chairman, the business of the meeting is disrupted in any way, the Chairman will ask the person/s causing the disruption to be quiet and if they refuse then ask them to leave. Mobile phones must be switched off, or on silent mode, for the duration of the meeting.
Members of the public should note that the council is only allowed to take decisions on topics that are publicised on the agenda, excepting items delegated to the Clerk. Agenda items may be suggested no later than one week before each parish council meeting in order to meet the legal requirements of publishing the agenda.