Public participation guidelines: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We welcome and encourage people to attend our public meetings and to contribute to them. 

Because of Coronavirus (COVID-19) we have had to change the way we run our meetings. Social distancing means we can't run meetings in the normal way, so we are having 'virtual meetings' online instead. The way we run meetings will be different.

To help you find out how the meetings will be different we have updated (made an addendum to) our General public participation scheme.

On this page you can find an overview of how we have adjusted our public participation scheme and about the process for taking part in public meetings.

You can read the full Addendum to public participation guidelines (PDF 224KB / 3 pages) 

The legislation behind virtual meetings

The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 allows councils to conduct remote meetings on a temporary basis, between 4 April 2020 and 7 May 2021. 

The legislation states that:

  • any member of the public participating in a meeting remotely must, when they are speaking, be able to be heard (and, where it's practical, be seen) by all Members in attendance
  • the remote participant must, in turn, be able to hear (and where practicable be seen) by those Members participating and any other members of the public attending the meeting

We are using Microsoft Teams platform, anyone with the right to make a representation will be dialled into the meeting to be heard, but the technology doesn't allow them to be seen.

You may be called to speak at any time by the chairman of the meeting. Please be prepared to make sure you are ready to speak when you are called.

Process for taking part in virtual meetings

This section includes information on how the new way of running meetings will effect:

  • General Public Participation Scheme
  • Public Participation at Planning Committee regarding specific planning applications or enforcement agenda items
  • Public Participation at Licensing Sub Committees regarding specific licensing applications

How virtual meetings will be different

Our Public Participation Schemes guidance still apply save that in respect of virtual meetings this addendum scheme takes precedence in the event of any inconsistency.

Anyone that wants to make a representation should contact us.

Agenda item for Planning and Licensing Committees will not automatically be deferred if someone who has registered to speak on an application is not available on the contact telephone number(s) provided. It is important therefore that you are watching the Meeting for its duration on the links provided to ensure your representation can be made.

Members of the public who register to speak, and have the right to do so, at a remote meeting will be asked also to provide a copy of their submission in writing in advance of the meeting so that, in the event of a breakdown of the technology and with the prior consent of those making the representation consideration can be given to it being read out by the Chairman this will be taken into account in reaching any decision to defer the item of business to the next meeting. All reasonable efforts will be made to facilitate those wishing to make representations to be heard at the meeting

Any member of the public who has registered to speak (no later than 00.01) one minute past midnight two working days before the meeting will be provided with process for the day of the actual meeting. Hearings heard by the Licensing Sub Committee meetings are different in that there is no right to public participation unless a valid representation has been made within the specific timescale. Your contact telephone number(s) will be required to be provided so that our Officers can dial you into the meeting to make your representation.

The meeting will be streamed live and can be accessed by all members of the public via the hyperlink which will be displayed alongside the appropriate Agenda on our website. These details will also be provided to the speaker prior to the meeting by the Committee Services Group within communications regarding arrangements. A recorded version of the meeting will also be available to members of the public to view on our website following the meeting.

Where members of the public have registered to speak and it is their turn to make their presentation, the Chairman will ask the meeting producer to contact them by telephone at their chosen number in order to enable them join the remote meeting and address Members. At the end of the presentation, or the end of the member of the public’s allotted time, the producer will disconnect the public speaker from the meeting. Should the member of the public so wish, they can continue to watch the live stream of the event via the relevant hyperlink.

Where responsible authorities/other persons have made a valid representation within licensing hearings, parties may be asked questions by the Committee or other parties and therefore the Chairman will exercise discretion as to when the party will be disconnected from the meeting as a speaker. The individual is encouraged to continue to watch the live stream of the event via the relevant hyperlink.

The Annex to our Public Participation Guidelines is disapplied for Virtual Meetings this governs the use of mobile phones, social media, filming and recording at Council meetings. The Council cannot control third parties who may record the meeting and use the contents on social media platforms.

For the purposes of virtual meetings, references in our General Public Participation Scheme and the ‘Public Participation at Planning Committee regarding specific planning application or enforcement agenda items’ guidelines and the Addendum Public Participation at Licensing Sub Committee regarding specific Licensing applications to ‘chamber’ or ‘room’ shall be interpreted as references to the place in which the virtual meeting is held.

The Privacy policy for virtual remote access meetings will apply to all Virtual Meetings and information provided by public participants.