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Darenth Parish Council

Public - Council Meetings

Public Participation at Council Meetings

Meeting of the Parish 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 Parish Council Chairman authorizes them to do so.

However, as part of its community engagement, Darenth Parish Council sets out a time for public participation at the beginning of its meetings when members of the public are invited to speak.

Members of the public should not be involved in the decision-making of the Council. The Council should not make an instant decision on the behest of members of the public on items that are not included in the agenda. As a matter of best practice, the Public Forum will be kept separate from the debate of the councillors.

If matter raised are on the agenda, then any relevant information given during the Public Forum that would help the council’s deliberations will be considered when the item is discussed.

If matters raised are not on the agenda for the meeting these can be used to form part of the agenda for a future meeting at the discretion of the Council.

Members of the public are welcome to stay for the Council meeting after the public session as observers but will not be able to join in discussion.

Members of the public may be excluded by a resolution of the meeting for specific items which need to be discussed in confidence for example staffing matters, tenders for contracts and some legal issues.

It is important to remember that no decisions or expenditure can be made on any item raised at the Public Forum because the item would not have been legally notified on an agenda in advance to the electorate or the council.

PROCEDURES

  • The Public Forum will be limited to a maximum time of 20 minutes
  • The Public Forum is an opportunity for members of the public to (a) make representations (b) ask questions or (c) give evidence relating to the business to be transacted
  • 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 any 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 question shall not necessarily require a response at the meeting nor must it start a debate on the question. The Chairman may direct that a written response be given.
  • A brief record of topics raised at a Public Forum will be included in the minutes of that meeting, but libelous, offensive and discriminatory comments will not be minuted.
  • If the issue is on the agenda it will be discussed under the appropriate item.
  • If the issue is not on the agenda, then the Chairman may direct that it be placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the council.
  • A person may not orally report or comment about a meeting as it takes place if he is present at the meeting of the council but otherwise may film, photograph or make an audio recording of a meeting.
  • Offensive or threatening behaviour will not be tolerated. If a member of the public interrupts the proceedings of any meeting the council reserves the right to curtail the contribution of that person and to exclude a disorderly person