Attending a Council Meeting

Attending a council meeting

While the idea of attending may seem daunting at first, Council meetings are a great way to learn first-hand how local decisions are made, and are probably more interesting than you might expect! This Council makes its decisions in public and is committed to community engagement and therefore warmly invites members of the public and the press to attend meetings. Our meetings are now also live streamed via YouTube.

Advice for residents and visitors on how to present to a Town Council meeting

The Town Council warmly welcomes members of the public to observe all of its meetings (bar a few which are confidential or informal workshops). Currently these are happening online but we hope to be back to meeting face to face well before the end of 2021. Council meetings are held online (via Zoom) almost every Monday at 7pm.

Anyone can watch our meetings as they are being broadcast live on YouTube or catch up the recording later.

But you may have something you want to say to the Town Council. This piece is all about how to do this

At the beginning of each meeting, 15 minutes are put aside for any members of our local public who wish to address the Town Councillors. This might be about a planning application matter, an idea for an entertainment event or a comment about the parks in our town. Or whatever is of concern to the person.

You can fill up all 15 minutes if you wish or speak for only a portion of that time. If there is more than one person who wishes to speak, then the Council asks them to share the 15 minutes between them.

It is best by far if you select the right meeting to attend. For example if it is a planning matter, it will be helpful if you talk to the Planning Committee rather than (say) the Town Centre and Events committee. You can see the schedule for the forthcoming meetings with their future and past agendas. Generally the Town Councillors are keen to have presentations that link to the meeting agenda that is about to be discussed. The Town Clerk or Committee Clerk can advise you on this.

The Town Councillors will not debate what you have said although they may occasionally ask you a question or two, to dig into what you mean a little deeper or clarify one of your points. If your input relates directly to an item on the agenda (such as a planning matter) then usually, the Chair of the meeting will suggest bringing that item forward in the meeting so that you don’t have to wait for all the other previous items to be gone through (interesting though those items are!). At this point, your role is only to observe the debate. Although sometimes the councillors will ‘suspend standing orders’ to ask you for your views. Once standing orders are reinstated, the meeting with progress as before and decisions taken as needs be.

You can submit written questions in advance of the meeting if you wish. These can then be placed on the agenda if needs be. The Town Clerk or Committee Clerk can, of course, advise you of the best approach to take.

Council meetings start promptly at 7pm so you may want to join the meeting a couple minutes early. There is guidance about how to set up a Zoom account and join online meetings.

The Committee Clerk or Chair will greet you online (or in person once we are meeting face to face again) and ensure the Chair knows that you wish to speak during the Public Session and which subject you intend to address. Because everything is happening online at the moment, please contact the Town Clerk or Committee Clerk in advance for the access codes so that you can be part of the interactive meeting.

This all may sound very formal. Indeed parts of it are and have to be. But the Councillors will be keen to listen to you and hear what you have to say. And generally speaking the meetings are a lot of fun and there are many light-hearted moments throughout the meeting.

Interested in becoming a councillor?

Have you ever considered being a Councillor? It's a great way to take part in making decisions about Buckingham.

Elections, usually, take place every four years. The timescales, advertising and process of elections is governed by a statutory procedure. All candidates have to be proposed and seconded by electors of the parish.

With a few exceptions you can be a Councillor if you are:

  • "18 years of age or over at the date of your nomination
  • a Commonwealth citizen, a citizen of the Republic of Ireland, or a citizen of another member state of the European Community,

and either:

  • be a local government elector (voter) for the area of the authority, or
  • have during the whole of the 12 months preceding the day on which you are nominated as a candidate occupied as owner or tenant any land or other premises in the area of the authority, or
  • have your principal or only place of work in the 12 months preceding the day on which you are nominated as a candidate in the area of the authority, or
  • have lived in the area of the authority during the whole of the 12 months preceding the day on which you are nominated as candidate."

For more information read Buckinghamshire Council's local democracy advice.

If an existing Councillor post becomes vacant, the vacancy is advertised for a fixed period of time and – unless ten electors have requested a poll – the vacancy is filled by co-option at a subsequent council meeting. If you are interesting in a current Town Councillor vacancy then please complete the below questionnaire and send to the following address allow with a short statement (side of A4) on why you wish to be co-opted as a Town Councillor.

Still interested in co-option? Please complete the form below and get in touch with the Town Council.

Post to: Committee Clerk, Buckingham Town Council, Buckingham Centre, Verney Close, Buckingham MK18 1JP