Public Participation at a Meeting

Public Participation at Council and Community Board Meetings

At the start of each meeting 30 minutes is set aside for the public to speak to elected members. Speaking at meetings is a good way for you to express your opinion to your elected representatives.  Each member of the public, or delegation, can speak for up to five minutes which is to include time for questions from members.

What to do if you would like to speak

Your intention to speak at any meeting must be notified to the Committee Secretary at least 24 hours prior to the meeting but preferably as soon as practicable.  Requests to speak within the 24 hour period should be formally requested from the chair of the meeting you wish to address and are approved at the chair’s discretion.

You should provide the Committee Secretary the following information:

  • Your name, title and contact details.
  • Which meeting you wish to address.
  • The subject matter.
  • If you are representing an organisation or group, the name of the organisation and any other speakers attending with you.
  • A summary of the matters you intend to raise (optional).

What topics can you comment on?

Council has adopted Standing Orders which outline public forum provisions.  Public forums are designed to enable members of the public to bring matters to the attention of the Council, Community Board or Maori Standing Committee.  You may bring any matter to the attention of members subject to restrictions as below.

No debate or decisions will be made at the meeting on issues raised during the forum unless related to items already on the agenda.

Restrictions

The Chairperson has the descretion to decline to hear a speaker or to terminate a presentation at any time where:

  • a speaker is repeating views presented by an earlier speaker at the same public forum.
  • the speaker is criticising elected members and/or staff.
  • the speaker is being repetitious, disrespectful or offensive.
  • the speaker has previously spoken on the same issue.
  • the matter is subject to legal proceedings.
  • the matter is subject to a hearing, including the hearing of submissions where the local authority or committee sits in a quasi-judicial capactiy.

Before the meeting

The Committee Secretary will confirm the meeting date, time and location as well as allocate you a speaking time. If an email address is provided an agenda will be emailed to you, or alternatively you can access the agendas and minutes on our website.

You will need to bring a minimum of 12 copies of any material you are presenting so copies can be distributed to the Mayor, councillors and Council officers, or alternatively provide an electronic copy to the Committee Secretary one working days prior to the meeting and copies will be made for you at no charge.

Please arrive early in case the public participation section of the meeting is running ahead of the schedule and take a seat in the public gallery area.

What happens at the meeting?

When your name is read out by the chair, take a seat at the meeting table. Use your speaking time effectively. If there is time left at the end of your presentation, the chair will facilitate any questions from elected members. These must fall within the time given to you. Following your public comment, you may take a seat in the public area to hear proceedings.

Every now and then an issue will be brought to the Council by staff or elected representatives which requires discussion in confidence. There will be a specific reason why the public is not allowed to listen to that item. If this happens, any members of the public or media will be asked to leave the room until the discussion is finished. You will then be able to return to the room.

After the meeting

Personal information such as your name and a brief summary of your comments will be included in the meeting minutes. All information you present will be in the public realm and media representatives may also be present. You cannot ask elected members to keep information presented confidential.

Suzanne Clark is SWDC’s Committee Secretary and can be contacted on 06 306 9611 xtn 858 or by email.