This page has information about the legal requirements for Council and Committee meetings, and how the public can attend and participate in meetings.
Legal Requirements for Meetings
The legal requirements for Council meetings are set down in the Local Government Act 2002 and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.
All Council and Committee meetings must be open to the public unless there is reason to consider some item with the public excluded. The Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 contains a list of the circumstances where Councils may consider items with the public excluded. (These circumstances generally relate to protection of personal privacy, professionally privileged or commercially sensitive information, and the maintenance of public health, safety and order). The Council agenda is a public document, although parts may be withheld if the above circumstances apply.
Although meetings are open to the public, members of the public do not have speaking rights during Council and Committee meetings, apart from the public speaking time allocated at the beginning of the meeting. Members of the public may speak during public speaking time at Committee meetings regarding any item within the terms of reference of the committee, if prior arrangements are made with the Committee Chairperson. Members of the public may speak during public speaking time at Council meetings without prior arrangement with the Chairperson but may only speak regarding an item that is on the agenda for consideration at that meeting.
The Mayor or Committee Chairperson is responsible for maintaining order at meetings and may, at his or her discretion, order the removal of any member of the public for disorderly conduct, or remove any member of Council who does not comply with Standing Orders.
Minutes of meetings must be kept as evidence of the proceedings of the meeting. These must be made publicly available, subject to the provisions of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.
Notice of Meetings
For a meeting of Council or a Committee (except Extraordinary meetings), at least 14 days notice of the time and place of the meeting must be given to elected members. Public notification of the scheduled meetings for each month is given in local weekly newspapers, at least five days before the first meeting on the calendar.
Extraordinary meetings may be called when required. Less notice is required for extraordinary meetings, which can generally be called on 3 working days notice, or 24 hours notice if the decision to hold the extraordinary meeting was made by resolution at a Council or Committee meeting. Public notification of these meetings is given as soon as practicable in the local weekly newspapers, including specifying the topic to be considered. The text of any decision made at an extraordinary meeting is advertised in a local newspaper following the meeting, unless the decision is made in a public excluded session.
The Council holds workshops regularly throughout the year. Workshops are held to enable Elected Members to take in, understand and exchange ideas on matters involving complex information, in an environment that is less structured than a formal meeting.
No decisions are made at workshops, and as such the requirements of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 regarding public notification and access to agendas and minutes of these workshops, do not apply.
All meetings of Council and its Committees are open to the public. Members of the public may speak during the public speaking time about any item that is on the agenda for consideration at that meeting. Members of the public may also speak at a Committee meeting to put forward their ideas or requests, regarding items within the terms of reference for that committee.
Please note that anyone wishing to speak at a Committee meeting, either as an individual or as part of a group deputation, must advise the Chief Executive or contact the Democratic Services Unit on (04) 237 5089 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make your request. No prior notification is required for participating in the public speaking time at a Council meeting.
Public Excluded Meetings
Sometimes the Council or Committee will pass a resolution to close a meeting to the public and consider items in a public excluded session. The Council or Committee has the right to do this under certain circumstances that are set out in the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987. When the Council or Committee passes a resolution to go into a public excluded session, members of the public present must leave the meeting.
However, members of the public are able to make an Official Information Request to the Chief Executive for minutes or papers of a public excluded meeting. The Chief Executive will consider the request according to the principles of the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, that information should be provided unless there is good reason to withhold it.
Conduct at Meetings
During meetings the Mayor and Councillors must follow Standing Orders (a set of procedures for conducting meetings). The Council may temporarily suspend any standing order by a vote of 75 per cent of the members present.
Behaviour at meetings is also governed by the Councillors Code of Conduct.
Links to more information
Porirua City Council links: