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Public comment is a maximum of 30 minutes at the beginning of any meeting of Council, committee, subcommittee or community board meetings that are open to the public.
If you want to speak at a meeting, you can do so as:
- a member of the public
- a person or a group of people with a specific purpose or common view, an interest group or organisation.
Before you can speak at a meeting, you need to apply for approval - see the following guidance information:
Criteria for speaking at meetings
The public can speak to most agenda items. Public comment is restricted to items on the agenda for the meeting, excluding items already resolved.
Requests to speak at a Council, committee or subcommittee meeting are approved by the Chair.
In the case of a community board, any issue, idea or matter raised in public comment must also fall within the terms of reference of that meeting.
Council's Standing Orders (PDF 1.9MB) contains the legislation for council meetings, decision making and transparency, including:
Standing Order 15.1 Subjects of public comment
Public comment does not apply in respect of any resource consent issue or any hearing including hearing of submissions where the Council, a hearings committee, a Hearings Commissioner or a district licensing committee sits in a quasi-judicial capacity.
The exclusion in standing order 15.1 is particularly relevant for speaking on District Plan Change agenda items at Council meetings. When such matters are before the Council, this is likely to be the final decision-making step required under the statutory process contained in the Resource Management Act 1991.
Accordingly, the Council is legally constrained in the matters that it may consider when making its decision and cannot take into consideration the views of the public at this stage in the process because it may prejudice the whole decision-making process.
If you need more information from Councillors or Council staff, call us on 04 570 6666 or email your question to DemocraticServicesTeam@huttcity.govt.nz.
Applying to speak at a meeting
If you want to address Council, committee or subcommittee meetings, your application must be with Democratic Services before 12 noon on the working day before the meeting you want to address.
If you miss the deadline, and if in the opinion of the Chair, the subject is a matter of urgency or major public interest, the Chair may use discretion to waive the requirements for notice.
You can bring your application in person to the Council offices at 30 Laings Road, Lower Hutt.
You need to provide:
- your name and contact details
- which meeting you would like to speak to.
After you have applied
After applications have closed, Democratic Services will speak with the Chair of the meeting who will approve or decline your application.
Democratic Services will contact you about the outcome of your application.
Preparing for the meeting
Talk to Democratic Services if you are going to:
- make a PowerPoint presentation (these need to be emailed to Democratic Services by 4pm on the working day before the meeting)
- provide handouts (to find out how many copies you need to bring with you)
- table supplementary material.
At the meeting
Sit in the public gallery and wait for the meeting to start.
The Committee Advisor will be in the meeting room 10-15 minutes before the meeting begins and will:
- register those who have approval to present / speak to the meeting
- take any handouts you've brought with you and distribute them
- answer your questions.
The Chair may begin the meeting by running through some housekeeping matters before calling you forward.
Making your presentation
When it is your turn to speak, the Chair will formally introduce you and invite you to move to the Council table.
Restrictions on speaking at meetings
There are provisions in Standing Order 15.3 for restricting speaking at meetings. The standing order states:
The Chair has the discretion to decline to hear a speaker or to terminate a presentation at any time where:
- a speaker is repeating views presented by an earlier speaker at the same public forum;
- the speaker is criticising elected members and/or staff;
- the speaker is being repetitious, disrespectful or offensive;
- the speaker has previously spoken on the same issue;
- the matter is subject to legal proceedings;
- the matter is subject to a hearing, including the hearing of submissions where the local authority or committee sits in a quasi-judicial capacity.
Community Board participation
If you're speaking at a community board, any issue, idea or matter raised in public comment must also fall within the terms of reference of that meeting.
Standing Orders places a limit of up to 3 minutes on any individual speaker addressing a meeting and up to 10 minutes on a person, group or organisation to make a presentation to a meeting on a matter or matters covered by that meeting’s terms of reference. Deputations are approved by the Chair or an official with delegated authority.
Use your speaking time effectively. If there is time left at the end of your presentation, the Chair will facilitate any questions from Councillors.
Please note that the time limit for a speaker may be extended at the discretion of the Chair.
After the meeting
Anything distributed or tabled at the meeting will become part of the public record for the meeting and will be:
- made available with the minutes (including your name)
- put up on Hutt City Council’s website.
Go to Infocouncil to find out what meetings are coming up and what will be discussed.
For more information about speaking at a council meeting, or if you have any questions, contact our Democratic services team on 04 570 666 or email DemocraticServicesTeam@huttcity.govt.nz.