West Berkshire Council

Asking a Question at a Meeting

Find out what questions you can ask, how to submit them, and what happens at the meeting

30 minutes is set aside at ordinary Executive, Council and Health and Wellbeing Board meetings for questions from members of the public living or working in West Berkshire.

The council chamber is currently being refurbished, so a temporary council chamber has been created on the 2nd Floor of our Market Street offices which is fully accessible, with level access and a lift to all floors.

The Council does, however, need to put into place suitable arrangements for any member of the public wishing to attend a Council meeting in person on the 2nd floor and who has a disability, injury or impairment which may require them to receive assistance during an emergency evacuation. This is so the Council can comply with its responsibilities in terms of fire safety.  

If you think this applies to you, please contact Anita Stanbury at least seven days in advance of the council meeting you wish to attend. Any information recorded will be processed securely and will only be used in the event of needing to evacuate the building in an emergency. This information will be destroyed within seven days of the council meeting taking place.

What questions can be asked?

Questions can be asked on any subject relating to any business of the council or the wellbeing of the district. Your question must be about a particular topic and should not include a series of sub-questions.

Questions should not:

  • be about any specific individual's personal circumstances
  • be defamatory, offensive or frivolous
  • be substantially the same as a question which has been put to a public meeting in the last six months
  • require the disclosure of confidential information

Please note that no public or member questions, petitions or motions may be dealt with at the Annual Meeting of Council which is held in May.

When to submit a question

Questions that relate to an item to be discussed at the meeting must be submitted in writing by 10am, two clear working days before the meeting.

Questions that don't relate to an item that is being discussed at the meeting must be submitted by 10am, seven working days before the meeting

The calendar of meetings can help you to work out deadlines and meeting dates and provides links to meeting agendas. Please note that 'working days' do not include the day the question is received or the day of the meeting (as well as bank holidays and weekends).

How to submit questions

There are several ways to submit questions. You can:

If you don't want to ask the question personally at the meeting, you can nominate someone else (eg a friend or your local Councillor) to ask it for you. If this is the case, you need to notify us about this at the same time that you submit your question.

We'll contact you to acknowledge receipt of your question and to let you know the date of the meeting in which your question will be asked. Information on attending the meeting will be sent to you and whoever is asking the question on your behalf (if relevant).

What happens at the meeting?

At present, all of our Council and committee meetings are held remotely using Zoom and are broadcast online. You can read more about viewing our meetings on YouTube, here.

Questions will be taken in the order in which they are received, and are asked by saying "I ask my question as set out in the agenda".  Any answers are offered without discussion.

If any person submits more than one question at a meeting, only their first question is guaranteed to be asked and answered. If there is time after all other questions have been asked and answered, the Chairman may invite the questioner to ask their further question(s).

Answers to questions may take the form of a direct oral response, a reference to a publication containing the desired information, or a written answer (where a reply cannot conveniently be given orally, or because of a lack of time).

Please read our pdf icon Public Participation in Meetings Guide [287kb] for more information.

Supplementary questions

Someone asking a question in writing who chooses not to attend in person (and doesn't nominate someone else to do so for them) will receive a written response. There is no opportunity to ask a supplementary question in this case.

However, a questioner or representative attending the meeting in person may ask one further supplementary question, that arises directly out of the answer given to their original question. This supplementary question should be relevant to the original question and must not introduce any new subject matter.

The Chairman will invite the questioner to ask a supplementary question if the questioner wishes to do so.

Questions and their answers are recorded in the minutes of each meeting. You can view meeting details and minutes for Full Council online, here. You can also view meeting details and minutes for Executive here, and the Health and Wellbeing Board, here.

Who To Contact

Contact details for West Berkshire Council's Democratic Services Team

01635 519462