This page provides the processes to follow to ask questions of the council, a committee, or present a petition to council. If you have any further questions or wish to seek advice, please contact the Parish Clerk
Use of video conferencing to hold Council meetings during the Coronavirus (covid-19) crisis.
Since the introduction of restrictions on gatherings of people by the Government in March 2020 it has not been possible to hold standard face to face public meetings in Seacourt Hall. This lead to a temporary suspension of meetings and the postponement of both the Annual Parish Meeting, and the March Council meeting. The Coronavirus Act 2020 has now been implemented, however, and in Section 78 it gives local authorities (including Parish Councils) the power to hold meetings without it being necessary for any of the participants or audience to be present together in the same room.
It is the intention of North Hinksey Parish Council to now hold Council meetings for the foreseeable future as online meetings, using the Zoom video conferencing system. This system is simple for members of the public to access, as well as participants, and a Zoom access document has been produced to help you.
During meetings the participants (Councillors) can be seen and heard by members of the public, and recordings can be made of them. Members of the public, however, will be muted, and have their video setting turned off, unless they are asked to participate by the Chairman, for example to ask a previously submitted question. The procedures will otherwise remain as previously, and other than recording of meetings (where revised text is shown in red below) all other text on this page relating to standard meetings remains valid for the new online Zoom meetings.
Attending meetings and addressing the Council
All Parish Council and committee meetings are open meetings. This means that members of the public and press are able to attend. The only exception is when councillors are to discuss confidential items and when this happens there is a separate confidential agenda. Once it is been declared that the meeting is going into confidential session then the public and press must leave.
The public have no right to participate in the proceedings of the Council, unless permitted (invited) to do so by Council (the Chairman). Members of the Public are however encouraged and welcome to attend meetings, and a 15 minute period (which can in special circumstances be increased, if Councillors agree) will be provided at all Council and Committee meetings to put relevant questions. A similar 15 minute period is allocated for questions from Councillors.
A maximum of two questions may be asked at any meeting with no extra issues / questions raised within them, and initial questions will be asked in the order that they are received, followed by second questions if time allows.
There will be a maximum of 5 minutes per question for them to be asked and an answer provided, and questions should be relevant to the work of the Council. Should a delegation wish to meet the Council they should appoint a spokesperson prior to the meeting.
You must submit your question in writing to the Chairman of the Parish Council or the Parish Clerk no later than 72 hours before the scheduled start time of the relevant Council or Committee meeting.
If your question is accepted then further copies will be made available to the public and press at the meeting and you will be invited to put your question to the council. You will then receive a verbal answer or informed of a written response to be provided subsequently where this is more appropriate. Once answered you may put a supplementary question to council for clarification provided it is directly out of the original question or answer.
It is expected that questions will be asked in a reasonable and polite manner. Where questions contain elements that are considered by the Parish Clerk to be unacceptable then you will be informed of this fact and asked to provide an acceptable version of the question in writing no later than 24 hours before the scheduled start time of the relevant Council or Committee meeting.
All of the above procedures apply to questions from Councillors as well as questions from members of the public.
How to Present a Petition to Council
You can present a written petition to a meeting of the council. It must relate to something which the council has responsibility. When you present your petition at a meeting of the council through an elected spokesperson you will be able to address the meeting for up to three minutes to explain what the petition is about.
The written petition must reach the Parish Clerk by 9am on the working day before the meeting you wish to address.
Councillors will then be able to ask any questions for clarification purposes, which may be fact finding or to establish the accuracy of information contained in or driving the petition.
Following this the Chairman of the Parish Council will accept the petition and then refer it to the appropriate committee to consider its content and make any necessary investigations or contacts to allow for a meaningful judgement of the petitions request if it is not being dealt with by full Council.
Once the relevant committee has completed its investigation, it will report back to council with recommendations. Details of the date and time of the reporting process will be shown on the agenda papers of the relevant Parish Council meeting and on the Parish Council website.
For clarity purposes the petition should take the following format:
Heading: Details of what the petition is for or against.
Information: Details of the information used or reasons given to petitioners which caused them to support the petition.
Other Detail: The petition to also show the name, address and include the signature of each person on the petition. Only individual signatures will be considered. Single entries purporting to represent more than one person (groups of people) will not be taken into account.
Recording of Council Meetings
Government regulations allow members of the public and press to record meetings of the council. You are welcome to record at any meeting which is open to the public.
Coronavirus (covid-19) guidelines for online Zoom meetings:
For online meetings only there are no restrictions on video or audio recording, as only active participants in the meeting can be seen and heard by members of the public. However in terms of usage of any recording there remains the requirement that who have recorded all or parts of the meeting should not edit their footage in any way that could lead to misinterpretation of the proceedings.
Guidelines for standard face to face meetings, which do not apply to online Zoom meetings, other than number 7:
We ask that anyone who wishes to film, record or photograph council meetings follows these guidelines:
1. Where possible please inform us of your intention to do so. This will help us to ensure that sufficient space is made available for you in an appropriate position. You can contact the Parish Clerk by email.
2. Any recording is to take place from a fixed position which must be approved by the Chairman of the meeting. This is to ensure that proceedings are not disrupted and also to minimise impact on other persons wishing to observe the meeting.
3. The use of lighting or flash photography is allowed provided it does not cause unduly disruption.
4. It should be noted that the Chairman of the meeting has absolute discretion to suspend or terminate any activities that, in his or her opinion, are disruptive.
5. If you are filming a meeting only focus on those who are actively participating and be aware of the restrictions in filming minors and vulnerable people.
6. Those recording, blogging or tweeting at the meeting do not have the right to give oral reports or commentary during the meeting, unless this is done outside of the meeting room.
7. Those who have recorded all or parts of the meeting should not edit their footage in any way that could lead to misinterpretation of the proceedings.