Attending a council meeting
What to expect from a Town Council meeting?
Have you ever thought about attending a Buckingham Town Council meeting but weren’t sure what to expect?
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 and contribute within the Public Session at the start of its meetings. It’s important to note that a Council meeting is not a public meeting but Buckingham Town Council has always welcomed the opportunity to listen to residents and address their concerns.
The first place you should start before attending a Council meeting is to take a look at the forthcoming agendas on the Town Council’s website and see what subjects interest you. If you are unsure which meeting to attend then please contact the Committee Clerk to discuss your interests/concerns.
How to attend an Online council meeting
Council meetings are held online (via Zoom) almost every Monday at 7pm at a specific web address published on the meeting's agenda. Agendas are typically posted online and within our Town Council noticeboard the Wednesday before the meeting and contain reports, appendices and links to previous minutes. Council meetings start prompt at 7pm so you may want to join the meeting a couple minutes early to inform the Chair that you wish to speak. Guidance on how to set up a Zoom account and join online meetings can be found here.
How long do meetings last?
Meetings can vary in length depending on how long the agenda is, but generally average between two to three hours.
When can I speak?
The Committee Clerk or Chair will greet you and ensure the Chair knows that you wish to speak during the Public Session and which subject you intend to address. At the beginning of each meeting, 15 minutes is allocated for the Public Session, during which members of the public may address councillors on any matter relating to policy or decisions of the Town Council. The Town Councillors will not be able to enter into debate on any subject raised during the Public Session, but may consider the subject at a later date and respond accordingly. Written questions received in advance of the meeting are encouraged but not essential.
This process may sound formal, and parts of it are, but there are also a lot of fun and light-hearted moments throughout the meeting. Council meetings are always open to the public and are a great way to learn more about how decisions to improve the Town and its facilities are made
Interested in becoming a councillor?
Elections, usually, take place every four years; the next election is May 2021. 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,
- 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 the 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.
Post to: Committee Clerk, Buckingham Town Council, Buckingham Centre, Verney Close, Buckingham MK18 1JP