How to speak at council meetings

COVID-19: changes to public meeting arrangements

Following changes to government rules, we will be using video conferencing to hold all forthcoming public meetings ‘virtually’, including:

  • Executive
  • Full Council
  • Planning and Regulatory Committee and Licensing Committee
  • Policy and Scrutiny Panels

Councillors will use Microsoft Teams to take part in the meetings and make decisions on agenda items as required.

We will stream the meetings live on our YouTube channel.

Currently there is no opportunity for members of the public to make a verbal submission at virtual meetings. 

You can, however, submit written statements and petitions for meetings by emailing it to us at the below address by the usual public participation deadlines (noon the working day before the meeting). We will then publish all statements with the agenda papers on the council’s website and for councillors in advance on the Meetings App.

Any comments will either be considered later in the meeting under the relevant agenda item or, where appropriate, referred to the relevant Executive Member or Director.

Please contact us on the email address below if you have any questions or if you wish to submit a written statement.

How to speak at council meetings

You may ask to speak at most council meetings including Full Council, the Planning and Regulatory Committee, the Executive and Policy and Scrutiny panels. You must be a resident, a business ratepayer or entitled to vote in North Somerset.

You must email or write to democratic services with your name and address and the subject you wish to speak about. We must receive this by noon on the day before the meeting. If you wish to speak about a planning application, we also need to know if you wish to speak in support or against the application.

Council meetings (excluding planning applications)

You will usually have five minutes to speak, but this may be reduced if there are more than six people who want to speak. You do not normally have to provide a transcript in advance but sometimes the chairman may ask for one for legal reasons.

Planning applications

Usually only two speakers are allowed for each planning application, one in support and one against. You will need to agree a spokesperson with other supporters or objectors. If you cannot agree, the chairman will select a spokesperson. You will usually have three minutes to speak but where there are a large number of speakers the chairman may reduce the time allowed.

Executive meetings

You will usually have three minutes to speak, at the discretion of the chairman. The Executive will hear up to four people.

Panel meetings

You will usually have five minutes to speak, at the discretion of the chairman.

Petitions at Full Council

If you wish to present a petition at Full council you must email or write to democratic services with your name and address and the subject matter of the petition. We must receive this at least seven working days before the meeting. You will have three minutes to speak about the petition.

Journalists and members of the public can film, record, tweet and blog from council meetings. Be aware that by attending a meeting you may be included in broadcast material.

Webcasts of council meetings

Some meetings may be video streamed to improve openness, understanding and accountability of local decision making. These meetings are streamed live and are also available on-demand within 48 hours.

See the live and on-demand webcasts section on our YouTube page.

When you speak at a council meeting, you should expect your contribution to appear on the web cast. If this creates a problem for you, please contact democratic services before noon on the day before the meeting at which you wish to speak.

Videos are made available for public viewing for three years after the date of the meeting.

While the camera focuses on the debate taking place, members of the public walking through the council chamber may inadvertently appear in camera shot. The public observation areas are not in the field of view.

The audio for the web cast is taken from the chamber microphone system which does not pick up ambient sounds from the public areas.

Photography, filming and social media use in meetings

People coming to open meetings have the right to:

  • film
  • audio record
  • take photographs
  • use social media.

Commentary to filming is not allowed during meetings.  If you’re going to a meeting you may be filmed by others at the meeting.