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Column 10th October 2018

Learning the rules of engagement for councils' meetings

Have you ever tried to talk to the council about a problem?

If you want to talk to a County or District Councillor you can find out their address, phone number and email from the website.

Grove Parish Council website lists Councillors’ addresses and telephone numbers but if you want to talk to a Town Councillor in Wantage you need to send correspondence or email to the Clerk and this will be forwarded.

Why is Wantage different?

If you want to talk to councillors at a meeting then each Council allows “Statements and questions from the public” at the beginning of most meetings.

This is an opportunity for us to raise points of issue or concern with the Council.

Advance notice of the request to speak must be given and this varies by Council.

If only it was that simple.

If you want to talk to the County Council then members of the public may ask one question of the Leader of the Council, other members of the Cabinet and any Chairman of a scrutiny or other council committee at ordinary meetings of the Council.

You do need to deliver it in writing or by electronic mail before 2.00 pm on the second working day before the meeting.

In addition any person may address the Council on an item in the agenda provided that notice of the request and the reasons for wishing to address the Council is received by 9.00 am on the working day before the meeting.

For the District Council, members of the public may ask questions, make addresses on items on the agenda or present petitions at a council meeting.

Questions must be about something which the local authority has responsibility for or which affects the district and must be provided to the Council before 5.00pm on the last working day before the day of the meeting.

For the Town Council you must notify the Town Clerk at least 24 hours before the meeting and all statements and questions must be of direct relevance to Wantage and relate to the business on the meeting’s agenda.

For Grove Parish Council meetings 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.

So for the Town and Parish Council meetings if the topic isn’t on the agenda you can’t ask about it.


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