Public Participation at Dorset Council and Committee Meetings

Dorset Council welcomes public attendance and involvement at Full Council and all of its formal committees. Decisions made by Dorset Council will affect people who live and work in Dorset and the council wishes to make sure that these decisions are fair and democratic.

Please read the information below that sets out the guidelines for public participation. There is a separate Guide to Public Speaking at a Planning Committee and a Guide to Licensing Sub-Committee Procedures should you wish to make representations to one of the area planning meetings or attend a licensing sub-committee.

How does public speaking work?

Any member of the public living or working in the Dorset Council area, or any appointed representative of any organisation operating within the council’s area may ask a question, make a statement or present a petition.

How many questions and statements can I submit?

A person or organisation can submit either 1 question or 1 statement. You will have three minutes to read out your question and this enables you to have a short pre-amble, to put the question into context, but the question itself must be a single question. Any sub-divided questions will not be permitted. Each question or statement submitted will consist of no more than 450 words. The question that you submit prior to the meeting must be the same as the text that you read out in the meeting. This is because the response that you receive will be based on the text of the question that you have submitted. Statements received from residents or organisations will be published, in full, before the meeting as a supplement to the agenda and published, in full, as an appendix to the minutes but will not be read out at the meeting.

Dorset Council also welcomes the attendance of town and parish council representatives at committee and full council meetings and the Chairman will normally invite the clerk or parish councillor to speak first at a meeting.

Please note: that you do not need to tell the council in advance if you just wish to attend the committee meeting to listen to debate.

How will I know what is on the agenda for a meeting?

Agendas are normally published at least one week in advance of the meeting and are also available to view by downloading a free app called Modern.Gov.

How do I make a request to speak?

You need to let the council know if you wish to speak at a committee meeting by contacting the Democratic Services Team at least three working days before the meeting.

Requests can be emailed to Democratic Services and when registering your request to speak please provide the following information:

How long may I speak?

You are able to speak for up to three minutes when asking a question. However the Chairman of the committee will use their discretion if it is appropriate to extend this time.

What will happen at the meeting itself?

The Chairman will invite you to speak at the appropriate point in the meeting, usually at the beginning of the meeting. Town and parish councils will normally be invited to speak first followed by members of the public; councillors will listen to all of the questions made. The most appropriate councillor will respond to the question at the meeting or if the information is not available a written response will be provided after the meeting.

Is there a limit on the number of people allowed to speak?

The Council will accept the first 8 questions and first 8 statements on a first come first served basis. No person or organisation may ask more than 1 question. You will only be invited to address the meeting if you are submitting a question. Statements will be received in writing and published with the agenda and minutes of the meeting, but will not be read out at the meeting.

There is a separate guidance for submitting Petitions.

Who can submit a petition?