Speaking in Open Forum
Speaking at meetings
Public forums are a defined period of time at the start of a meeting, which, at the discretion of a meeting, is put aside for the purpose of public input. Public forums are designed to enable members of the public to bring matters to the attention of the local authority.
A period of up to 30 minutes, or such longer time as the meeting may determine, will be available for the public forum at each scheduled local authority meeting.
Criteria for speaking at meetings
Applying to speak at a meeting
Requests must be made to the Governance team at least one clear day before the meeting; however this requirement may be waived by the Chairperson.
Preparing for the meeting
Talk to the Governance team if you are going to:
- make a PowerPoint presentation (these need to be emailed to the Governance team by 4pm on the working day before the meeting)
- provide handouts (to find out how many copies you need to bring with you)
- table supplementary material.
At the meeting
Sit in the public gallery and wait for the meeting to start.
The Governance Officer will be in the meeting room 10 - 15 minutes before the meeting begins and will:
- register those who have approval to present / speak to the meeting
- take any handouts you've brought with you and distribute them
- answer your questions.
Making your presentation
When it is your turn to speak, the Chair will formally introduce you and invite you to move to the place from where you will address the meeting. Depending on the meeting and the meeting room, this could be a lectern or the table.
Questions at public forums
All the conclusion of the presentation, with the permission of the Chairperson, elected members may ask question of speakers. Questions are to be confined to obtaining information or clarification on matters raised by a speaker.
Restrictions on speaking at meetings
The Chairperson has the discretion 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 capacity.
Speakers can speak for up to 5 minutes. No more than two speakers can speak on behalf of an organisation during a public forum. Where the number of speakers presenting in the public forum exceeds six in total, the Chairperson has discretion to restrict the speaking time permitted for all presenters.
Use your speaking time effectively. If there is time left at the end of your presentation, the Chair will facilitate any questions from Councillors. These must fall within the time given to you.
Please note that the time limit for a speaker may be extended at the discretion of the Chairperson.
Community Board participation
If you would like to present or speak at Community Board meetings, advise the Governance team beforehand.