Witney Town Council’s Standing Orders (number 42) makes provision for members of the public to participate in Council meetings. The Standing order is reproduced below with explanatory text in blue.
42. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
(a) For all meetings of the Council and its standing committees, an item entitled “public participation” shall be included on the agenda for that meeting immediately after “minutes”
Members of the public may attend and speak at Council and committee meetings. These rules do not apply to working parties and steering groups.
(b) Members of the public may speak for a maximum of five minutes each during the period of public participation. Matters raised shall relate to items on the agenda for that particular meeting. Witney Town Council – Standing Orders 22
Five minutes per person ensures that the meeting is not overly long and that everyone who wants to is able to have their turn at speaking. Five minutes is the same length of time allocated to council members per item.
(c) Following submission by a member of the public, any Member of the Council may, through the Chairman, ask questions of the person(s) concerned for clarification purposes or on points of information.
If the councillors need further information they may ask you questions.
(d) Any question from the member of the public shall not require a response at the meeting nor start a debate on the question. The Chairman of the meeting may direct that a written or oral response be given.
It’s not always possible for an answer to be given at the meeting depending on the nature and complexity of the subject. The council may want to carry out research, gather data or consult others before it can respond fully to you or discuss knowledgably the matter you wish to raise.
(e) A person who speaks at a meeting shall direct his/her comments to the Chairman of the meeting.
(f) Only one person is permitted to speak at a time. If more than one person wants to speak, the Chairman of the meeting shall direct the order of speaking. If more than one person wants to speak on the same or a similar issue, they shall elect one person to speak on their behalf.
If a number of people are representing a group or are lobbying on the same subject they should nominate a single individual to speak for them. This helps to ensure that if there are multiple issues debated by separate groups every group gets an equal opportunity to speak about the agenda item that is important to them.