What to expect from a Parish Council Meeting

A little about what to expect from the meetings.

How does the Open Forum work?

Newport 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 forum. 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 Newport Parish Council welcomes the opportunity to offer it.

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 during the meeting.

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 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 be for a maximum period of 15 minutes and will take place early on in the agenda 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.

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 1 week before each parish council meeting.

All communication at meetings shall be through the Chairman. Councillors may not address questions raised by members of the public except through and with the permission of the Chairman. Members of the public may not address individual Councillors except through, and with the permission of the Chairman.  Councillors and members of the public must respect the role of the Chairman and may be asked to leave if in the opinion of the Chairman they breach this protocol in a way that disrupts the orderly conduct of the meeting.

This council will provide 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 Council.

The Chairman may, 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.

As stated in Newport Parish Council Standing Orders

Meetings shall be open to the public unless their presence is prejudicial to the public interest by reason of the confidential nature of the business to be transacted or for other special reasons. The public’s exclusion from part or all of a meeting shall be by a resolution which shall give reasons for the public’s exclusion.

d ) Subject to standing order 1(c) above, members of the public are permitted to make representations, answer questions and give evidence in respect of any item of business included in the agenda.

e ) The period of time [which is at the Chairman’s discretion] which is designated for public participation shall not exceed 15 minutes.

f ) In accordance with standing order 1(d) above, a question asked by a member of the public during a public participation session at a meeting shall not require a response or debate.

g)  In accordance with standing order 1(g) above, the Chairman may direct that a response to a question posed by a member of the public be referred to a Councillor for an oral response or to an employee for a written or oral response.

h)  A record of a public participation session at a meeting shall be included in the minutes of that meeting.

i ) Any person speaking at a meeting shall address his comments to the Chairman.

j ) Only one person is permitted to speak at a time. If more than one person wishes to speak, the Chairman shall direct the order of speaking.

More information is available in the public-participation-at-parish-council-meetings document.