Public questions at council meetings

Please use the links below for information about public questions at the following meetings:

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Members of the public, i.e. individuals living or working in Cornwall, are permitted to ask questions at Cornwall Council, Cabinet, Scrutiny and Portfolio Advisory and Committee meetings.

The protocol for questions at the above meetings is broadly similar for Cornwall Council, Cabinet and Scrutiny meetings, however, there are discrete differences for each.  (Please note that the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (CIFCA) meetings protocol varies slightly and is listed separately below.)

Questions must be received in writing or by electronic mail by the Head of Legal and Democratic Services (who is also the Monitoring Officer), with the questioner’s name and address (although the person’s town will be included in the minutes only).  Questions must relate to the business of the Council/Committee, and should not be frivolous, defamatory or offensive.

Questions will be asked in the order they were received, although the Chairman may group together similar questions.

The Chairman will invite the questioner to put their question to the Chairman of the Council or Committee or Cabinet Member at Cabinet meetings.  A questioner, at the discretion of the Chairman, may also put one supplementary question at the meeting. Any questions not dealt with during the public question time will be dealt with by a written answer within seven working days of the relevant meeting.

No member of the public may ask more than two questions in any one financial year.

1.  A total of 30 minutes is allocated at the start of each Council meeting for questions and supplementary questions from both Members and members of the public.

2.  Notice:  a written question must be received no later than midday 2 clear working days before the day of the meeting (i.e. for a meeting held on a Tuesday the deadline is 12.00 noon the previous Thursday).

3.  Questions shall not normally exceed 50 words in length and be formed to receive information rather than make a statement.  No one or organisation may submit more than 1 question to any 1 meeting and no more than 2 questions in any 1 financial year.

(for further information see the Constitution “Protocol for Member questions at Council meetings”: and Section 10 of “Council Procedure Rules”)

In order to submit a question electronically please email fullcouncil@cornwall.gov.uk

1.  A total of 15 minutes is allocated at the start of each Cabinet meeting and each Portfolio Advisory Committee meeting for questions and supplementary questions from members of the public.

2.  Notice:  a written question must be received no later than midday 2 clear working days before the day of the meeting (i.e. for a meeting held on a Wednesday the deadline is 12.00 noon the previous Friday).

3.  see Council meetings above.

(for further information see the Constitution “Protocol for Member questions at Council meetings”: and Section 2.2 of “Cabinet Procedure Rules”)

In order to submit a question for Cabinet electronically please email cabinet@cornwall.gov.uk.

In order to submit a question to one of the Portfolio Advisory Committees electronically please use the appropriate email address below. To find out which PAC you will need to submit your question to please check the Portfolio Advisory Committee webpage.

Members of the public may ask questions or make statements that relate to the business of the Committee.

1.  A total of 10 minutes is allocated at the start of each Scrutiny Committee meeting for questions/statements and supplementary questions/statements from members of the public.  A questioner will be allowed 3 minutes of speaking time at Committee meetings to put their question or statement. 

2.  Notice:  a written question must be received no later than midday 2 clear working days before the day of the meeting.

3.  Where more than 1 person wishes to raise the same issue or question they will be asked to agree a spokesman to speak on that issue.

(for further information see the Constitution Protocol for Questions and Statements from Members of the Public at Scrutiny Meetings.)

In order to submit a question electronically please use the email address listed below.

scrutiny@cornwall.gov.uk

Questions from the Public

Subject to rules as set out in this Constitution members of the public may ask questions of the CIFCA at ordinary meetings of the CIFCA.

The Monitoring Officer or his nominated representative at the meeting is authorised to reject a question from the public if it does not meet the following criteria:

  •  it is not a matter for which the CIFCA has responsibility or which affects the CIFCA;
  • it is defamatory, frivolous or offensive;
  • it is substantially the same as a question put at a meeting of the CIFCA in the past 6 months; or
  • answering it requires the disclosure of Confidential or Exempt information.

Questions will be asked in the order notice of them was received, except that the Chairman may group together similar questions.

A question may only be asked if notice has been given by delivering it in writing or electronically to the Monitoring Officer or his nominated representative no later than midday 5 clear working days before the day of the meeting. Each question must give the name and address of the questioner and copies of all questions will be circulated to all members and will be made available to the public attending the meeting. Rejected questions will include reasons for rejection.

No person or organisation may submit more than one question to any one meeting and no more than two questions in any financial year.

The Chairman will invite the questioner to put the question to the CIFCA , if the questioner who has submitted a written question is unable to be present they may ask the Chairman to put the question on their behalf and give a written response or decide, in the absence of the questioner that the question will not be dealt with.

A questioner who has put a question may, at the discretion of the Chairman, put one supplementary question without notice to the CIFCA.

A question or supplementary question which cannot be dealt with during public question time will be dealt with by way of a written answer.

Public questions

The right for a member of the public to speak at any meeting of the CIFCA shall be at the sole discretion of the Chairman and the speaking shall take the form of questions that shall be relevant to agenda items to be considered by the CIFCA at that meeting.

Public speaking is limited to 15 minutes at the start of the meeting on a 1stcome 1st served basis.

Written questions shall be limited to a maximum of 200 words.

Multiple speakers shall not be allowed on the same subject, should several people wish to speak on the same subject the Chairman shall select one speaker to represent all.

The Chairman reserves the right to terminate any question from the public if he considers it is not relevant to the subject matter of the agenda or the speaker is becoming abusive or disruptive.

1.  Subject to the rules set out in the Cornwall Council Constitution, members of the public may ask questions at meetings of the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee.

2.  A person wishing to ask a question must submit the question in writing. All questions must be received at the Democratic Services Office, Luxstowe House, Liskeard or by email to tamarbridge@cornwall.gov.uk, by no later than midday, 3 clear working days before the meeting of the Joint Committee at which it is to be asked.  The person’s name and address must be included in the question.

3.  All questions put shall relate to Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee business, shall not exceed 50 words in length and shall be so framed as to elicit information rather than make a statement. 

4.  No member of the public may submit more than 1 question to any 1 meeting or more than 2 questions in any 1 financial year.

5.  Questions shall be printed and asked in order of receipt and circulated to the members of the Joint Committee prior to the meeting.

6.  The Chairman will invite the questioner to put the question to the meeting.  If the questioner is unable to be present, the Chairman will put the question and a written response will be provided to the questioner.

7.  In instances where a similar question is received from more than one person, a spokesperson should be nominated to ask the question at the meeting; if a spokesperson cannot be agreed then preference will be given to the first registered questioner.

8.  A questioner who has put a question may, at the discretion of the Chairman, put one supplementary question on the same topic without notice to the Joint Committee.

9.  The Chairman reserves the right to terminate any question if he/she considers the speaker is becoming abusive or disruptive.

10.  No discussion shall be allowed on questions or answers.

11.  The period for questions shall be restricted to a maximum of 15 minutes, provided that where a question to which an answer is to be given is not reached within the time limit, a written answer shall be given to the questioner within 7 working days of the meeting and circulated to all Members of the Joint Committee.

12.  The Director of Economy, Planning and Environment (Cornwall Council) and Director of Place (Plymouth City Council) or their nominated representative at the meeting, in consultation with the Joint Chairmen and Monitoring Officer, are authorised to reject a question prior to the meeting from the public if:-

  • i)  it is not a matter for which the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry Joint Committee has responsibility or affects the Joint Committee;
  • ii)  it is unsuitable in form, frivolous, defamatory, derogatory or otherwise offensive;
  • iii)  it is substantially the same as a question put to a meeting of the Joint Committee in the past 6 months;
  • iv)  it relates to a matter which the Joint Committee would be likely to consider in the absence of the Press and public and answering it would require the disclosure of confidential or exempt information.

In instances where a question is rejected, the questioner will be informed in writing of the reason(s) in accordance with categories (i) – (iv) above.