What your speech or question can be about

Your speech (also called a deputation) or question can be on any topic that we have the power to act on. 

Your speech or question could be refused if it’s:

  • largely the same as one made in the last 6 months 
  • defamatory, frivolous or offensive 
  • asking for confidential information 

The decision to refuse a speech or question is made by the Chief Executive or Chair of the meeting (Mayor at full council). The decision is final.

If your speech or question is about a national issue, find out how to get involved in decisions made by UK Parliament.

Who can get involved

Any resident of the city can make a speech or ask a question at any of our ordinary public meetings, including full council. 

Questions

Your question has to be asked at the meeting. So if you cannot attend, a representative like a friend or colleague can ask the question in your place. They’ll also have the right to ask a follow up question on your behalf.

You can ask a question if you work for the council, the only extra rule is that questions cannot relate to your personal employment.

Speeches

Your speech has to be signed by at least 5 people but no more than 12. You’ll need to identify who the lead spokesperson is and this person will speak at the meeting. 

Anyone who lives or works in the city can support a speech.

Only the lead spokesperson has to come to the meeting to present the speech. All the supporters will be invited and are welcome to come and support the spokesperson but only the lead spokesperson will speak at the meeting.

If the spokesperson is not available to present the speech to the meeting, another of the supporters can present it instead.

Details you need to provide

You cannot submit a speech or question anonymously. 

You must provide your name and either an address or email address when submitting a question. Your name will be part of the public record of the meeting along with your question.

A speech must be presented at a meeting. Supporters will need to provide their address, but we will not publish this information in any meeting papers.

If you want to make a representation to councillors without being present at a meeting you can contact all of the city’s councillors directly.

Which meetings you can present at

There is time reserved for speeches and questions at every ordinary council meeting. 

You may not be able to make a speech or ask a question at a special meeting of a committee because these meetings are called to discuss a single matter or time sensitive matters and are held in addition to ordinary meetings. 

There are no public speeches or questions at the Budget Council meeting in February, at Licensing Panels or standards hearings.

How much notice you need to give us

You need to submit your speech or question by midday 4 working days before the meeting. The exact deadline for each meeting is published in the agenda. 

Public involvement is always one of the first items on the agenda so you need to attend from the beginning of the meeting. 

Questions

You have to submit your full question in advance, not just the topic. This helps the chair give you a full response.

If you plan to ask a follow up question, you do not have to submit it in advance but if you do, you may receive a more complete response at the meeting.

Speeches

You need to submit a written summary (maximum one side of A4) to the Chief Executive. You should do this through the committee clerk. 

You’re allowed to submit 2 pages of extra information. This can include things like photographs, graphs and statistics. 

After you’ve submitted your speech we’ll invite you to attend the next meeting of the committee or full council. The committee clerk will let you know the start time of the meeting when they invite you. This is usually 4pm for committees and 4:30pm for full council.

If the speech is presented at a full council meeting it’ll be referred to the appropriate committee for consideration at its next meeting. The lead spokesperson will be invited to attend that meeting to hear what the committee decides.

How long you can speak

Questions

Questions can be up to 100 words long and must only contain a single question.

You can ask a follow up question but it has to be relevant to your original question or to the response given. It’s not a second question.

You can only ask one question at a meeting but there’s no limit on how many meetings you can come to as long as you ask different questions.

Speeches

For speeches, you have up to 5 minutes to speak. 

You do not need to speak for the whole 5 minutes but if your speech is a lot shorter than this, you might want to think about asking a question instead of submitting a speech.

You are able to give us 2 pages of extra information when you submit your speech but unfortunately it’s not possible to show videos or presentations at the meeting.

What to expect from the response

Responses to a speech

At full council the mayor will ask councillors to note the speech. It will then be referred to the relevant committee. 

The topic will be on the next agenda of that committee. We’ll invite the supporters to this meeting but they will not be able to speak again at the committee.

At a committee the chair will ask councillors if they agree to note the speech. Councillors may also: 

  • ask for an officer report
  • ask for officers to take action
  • explain why the council cannot act

Responses to a question

If your question follows the guidelines, the chair will answer it at the meeting. They could answer in a few ways: 

  • give a verbal response at the meeting
  • give you a written answer if it's too long to read out
  • refer you to a publication that contains the answer to your question

If the chair is unable to answer your question or follow up question at the meeting they must provide you with a written answer within a reasonable time after the meeting.