General public participation scheme

Last Updated: 29 October 2021

As part of its commitment to community governance and openness, we welcome and encourage attendance and contributions by the public at meetings. This is known as public participation.

Calendar of Council, Cabinet and committee meetings

Some meetings have separate procedures for public speaking:

General public participation scheme

The general public participation scheme applies to the following meetings:

Where there is no specific agenda item for public participation, any requests to speak are at the discretion of the Chairman.

In addition, any part of a meeting where it has been decided that the press and public should be excluded means that public participation cannot be included in the business.

Members of the public can make representations, put a question or present a petition to a meeting.

However, it should be noted that public participants are not subject to the privilege rule and, therefore, individuals who take part should have regard to the laws governing defamation, libel and slander.

Take part in a meeting

Public participation is open to the following people: 

  • a resident and/or elector of South Lakeland district
  • a representative of a South Lakeland-based group or organisation
  • a representative of a town or parish council within South Lakeland district
  • a business ratepayer of South Lakeland district
  • anyone else, subject to the discretion of the Chairman

Representations must relate to those issues which are the responsibility of the meeting to which they are to be made. For advice on this please contact Committee Services.

Representations are not permitted where the issue relates to the circumstances of an individual, matters covered by legal or other proceedings or about a member of staff.

A period of 30 minutes is allotted at the start of each meeting to hear representations, but this can be extended at the discretion of the Chairman in situations where there is a clear public interest in participation.

Anyone wishing to make representations should contact Committee Services no later than 0:01am (one minute past midnight) two working days before the meeting. Generally, speakers will be taken in the order that their requests to speak have been received with priority being given to requests in writing.

Requests should include:

  • name
  • address
  • contact telephone number
  • whether a question, petition or representation is being made

Our Monitoring Officer reserves the right to omit or refuse a request which includes any matter which appears to be defamatory, frivolous, offensive or for any other legitimate reason. In these cases, where time permits, the person concerned will be informed in writing of the reason for omission or refusal.

The Chairman has discretion to vary the time limits for speaking but generally, speakers are allowed up to three minutes to put their case. In order to speak on behalf of a group, you must provide the names of all those on whose behalf you will be speaking. Those speaking on behalf of a group may have up to five minutes in which to make representations.

This does not apply where the other individual is one of the following: 

  • a family member
  • a partner
  • a business associate
  • a member of the same organisation

The Chairman may refuse an individual’s application to speak if it becomes clear that they would be doubly represented at the meeting.

Committee Services will acknowledge all requests to speak within two working days of receipt of that request. If your request is received outside of the Council's office hours, the date of receipt will be taken as the next working day. If you do not receive an acknowledgement either within this time frame or before the meeting if sooner, please contact Committee Services who will be pleased to help.

Responses to representations are at the discretion of the Chairman and may (but not necessarily) take one of the following forms: 

  • the Chairman or officers may answer any questions raised
  • the issue may be discussed by Members under an agenda item
  • the meeting can resolve that the matter should be referred to the appropriate Committee
  • the Chairman may decide that a written response is more appropriate. In this case, a written response will be given within seven working days of the meeting

A person who has spoken at one of the council's meetings (eg Council, Cabinet, a committee or sub-committee meeting), may not speak for a period of six months on the same matter, or a related issue, at any subsequent meetings of the Council, Cabinet, committee or sub-committee, without the consent of the Chairman.

Any disruptive behaviour may result in the Chairman adjourning the meeting and/or the individual concerned being asked to leave.

The use of social media, filming, videoing, photographing or recording of Council meetings or other meetings which are open to the public is allowed, subject to the conditions of the protocol governing the use of mobile phones, social media, filming and recording at meetings.

The use of social media in formal meetings is permitted for members of the public, press and Councillors, so long as this does not cause any disruption or disturbance. The Chairman’s decision on whether a disruption or disturbance is being caused is final.

To minimise disruption to others attending the meeting, all attendees including Councillors must ensure that their phone or other mobile devices are switched off or set to silent mode during the meeting.

All current Members of South Lakeland District Council and Co-optees on Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Lake Administration Committee have been granted a dispensation in circumstances when they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest in relation to an agenda item, to make representations under the General Public Participation Scheme. Such dispensation does not apply to the remainder of the agenda item and upon completing his/her address the member will be required to leave the chamber for the remainder of the agenda item.

A Member or Co-Opted Member who due to private or ward activities has to declare bias and pre-determination in relation to an agenda item may utilise the General Public Participation Scheme and speak on such an agenda item subject to the requirement that upon completing his/her address the member will be required to leave the chamber for the remainder of the agenda item.

A Member utilising the general public participation scheme should indicate in what capacity they are speaking when addressing any meeting on which they are not a member.

At any meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held to consider the call-in of an executive decision, all representations and questions must relate to the reasons for the call-in and must not address the wider context or original decision. For advice on this please contact Committee Services or the Monitoring Officer. Public participation at such meetings will be taken following the initial presentation by those calling-in the decision and the response from the decision-maker, and prior to the Committee’s debate. Petitions may not be submitted to meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held to consider a call-in.