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Openness at meetings

Our policy of openness at meetings.

The Local Government (Access to Information) Act says that council meetings should be open to the public and press (including agency and broadcasting journalists) except where 'confidential' or 'exempt' information would be revealed.

We put up notices at least 5 clear days before meetings. Normally we put them up at County Hall in Matlock. If meetings are called urgently, we put notices up at once.

If the meeting is to be elsewhere, we put up notices at the location as well as at County Hall.

We provide reasonable facilities for the press to take and make their reports.

Copies of the papers will be available for those attending the meeting.

Public 'question time' at council meetings

You can make your voice heard in the democratic process following the introduction of a 'Question Time'-style session during the full Council meetings. To be eligible your name must appear on our register of electors, or be a Derbyshire Council Tax payer or non-domestic tax payer.

The 30-minute session opens up the decision-making process and encourage members of the public to have a greater voice in local service provision.

You will be invited to attend the meeting and ask your question to the relevant member of our Cabinet.

Questions are welcome about any issue that comes under our responsibility, or any issue that affects Derbyshire.

Rules of procedure

People who can ask questions

Members of the public who are on our register of electors, or are Derbyshire County Council tax payers or non-domestic tax payers, may ask questions of members of the Cabinet at ordinary meetings of the Council.

Notice required

A question may only be asked if notice has been given by delivering it in writing or email, to the Director of Legal Services no later than midday 3 working days before the Council Meeting (for example, questions must be received on a Friday when Council meets on the following Wednesday). This enables us to gather the necessary background information so that a full answer can be given.

The notice must give the name and address of the questioner and the name of the Cabinet Member of the Council to whom the question is to be put.

Submitting your questions

Questions should be sent to the Director of Legal Services in one of the following ways:

By post:

Michelle Archer
Democratic and Registration Services Manager
County Hall
Matlock
Derbyshire
DE4 3AG

By email democratic.services@derbyshire.gov.uk

Number of questions that can be asked

At any one meeting no person may submit more than one question, and no more than one such question may be asked on behalf of one organisation.

Scope of questions

A question may be rejected by the Director of Legal Services if it:

  • exceeds 200 words in length
  • is not about a matter for which we have a responsibility, or which affects Derbyshire
  • is defamatory, frivolous or offensive
  • is substantially the same as a question which has been put at a meeting of the Council in the past six months
  • requires the disclosure of confidential or exempt information

What happens at the meeting

The Chairman will invite the questioner to put the question to the Cabinet Member named in the notice.  If the questioner who has submitted a written question is unable to be present, he/she may ask the Chairman to put the question on his/her behalf.  In the absence of the questioner, the Chairman may ask the question on the questioner’s behalf, indicate that a written reply will be given, or decide that the question will not be dealt with.

The time allocated for questions by the public at each meeting will be 30 minutes. This period may be extended however, at the discretion of the Chairman. Questions will be considered at the Council meeting in the order in which they were received.

Any questions not answered at the end of the time allocated for questions by the public will be answered in writing.  Any question that cannot be dealt with during public question time because of the non-attendance of the Member to whom it was to be put, will be dealt with by a written answer.

Supplementary questions

The questioner may ask one supplementary question to the Cabinet Member who has replied to the original question. A supplementary question must arise directly out of the original question or the response provided by the Cabinet Member.