Attending Meetings

Current committees

During the Coronavirus outbreak, and the recovery which follows, the way we conduct meetings will change. This page summarises the process. If you have any questions please contact Democratic Services on committee@tunbridgewells.gov.uk or call 01892 554413.

Attending Meetings

Meetings will not be held in the town hall, instead they will be held virtually using video conferencing and webcast live online.

Any member of the public may watch/listen to the meetings online live via our website on the relevant committee’s meeting page. A recording of the meeting will also be available shortly after the end of the meeting.

All meetings and agenda are open to the public except where confidential information is being discussed. The agenda of the meeting will identify whether any meeting or part of the meeting is not open to the public and explain why.

The start time of public meetings may vary to reduce the draw on the council’s resources at this time. The actual start time of a particular meeting will be set out in the agenda.

Agendas

The Council has a variety of committees and meetings, each dealing with specific issues. The business to be discussed is set out in the agenda for that meeting together with reports prepared by Officers which form the basis of the discussions and contain recommendations for decision.

There cannot be any discussion or decison made on any matter which is not on the agenda unless the matter is urgent and subject to specific urgency procedures.

Agendas are usually published five clear working days before the meeting (for example: if a meeting was to be held on Thursday 15th, the agenda would be published on Wednesday 8th except when there was a public holiday during the week). All agendas are published on our website on the relevant committee’s meeting page.

Speaking at Meetings

Members of the public are encouraged to participate and may speak to the Council directly on any item on the agenda for up to 3 minutes. Members of the public (and any members of the Council who are not members of the committee) will need to register with Democratic Services in advance.

Comments should be in the form of a statement giving your opinion on the matter. Members of the committee may not answer questions or get into a debate with you. (Seperate rules apply for asking questions, please see below.)

Registering to speak

Registration opens when the agenda is published and closes at 4pm on the last working day before the meeting.

Places are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis except that if there are several speakers from the same group they will be asked to nominate someone to represent their collective view.

Contact details for the Democratic Services Officer responsible for the meeting will be set out in the agenda for the meeting which is available on the council’s website on the relevant committee’s meeting page.

Number of speakers

For most meetings (see exceptions below), there may be up to 4 speakers per agenda item and speakers have up to 3 minutes each.

Occasionally, when a matter is of especial public interest, the Full Council may resolve to increase the number of speakers. This will need to be agreed in advance and, if so, details will be set out in the agenda for the relevant meeting.

For Planning Committee there may be a maximum of 4 speakers in favour of an application plus 4 speakers against an application, each with up to 3 minutes.

Separate rules apply to Licensing Sub-Committee hearings depending on the nature of the business at hand.

Joining the meeting

Once registered, further instructions will be sent. The meeting is held via Zoom and so if you have access to a computer with a microphone or a mobile device you can join the meeting directly. Alternatively, you can join the meeting by telephone.

We would recommend that you also submit a written statement in case of technical difficulties on the night. If we cannot connect you to the meeting for any reason and we have a written statement from you, your statement will be read out. Written statements should be sent to Democratic Services no later than 4pm on the last working day before the meeting.

If the meeting does not get to the item of business you are registered to speak on, you will be invited to come back when the item is next considered.

Asking Questions

At ordinary meetings of Full Council or Cabinet it is possible to ask questions. (Questions may not be asked at extraordinary meetings.) Questions must be submitted in writing (preferably by email) to Democratic Services no later than midday, three clear working days before the meeting (for example: if a meeting was to be held on Wednesday 15th, questions must be received by midday on Thursday 9th except when there was a bank holiday during the week).

Once registered, further instructions will be sent. The meeting is held via Zoom and so if you have access to a computer with a microphone or a mobile device you can join the meeting directly. Alternatively, you can join the meeting by telephone.



 

Going Paperless

The Council is doing all it can to reduce the use of paper at meetings and this is especially true whilst we have limited access to the Town Hall. All documents are available electronically. Printed copies are available on request but please note that they are not currently available from the Town Hall. If you need a printed copy, please allow sufficient time for it to be printed and posted.

The mod.gov app allows you to automatically download meeting agendas and documents to your smartphone or tablet. Click here for more information.