Guide to speaking at council meetings

Guide to speaking at council meetings

What are public questions?

The public question session is an opportunity at the beginning of each ordinary meeting of the borough council for members of the public to put questions about the council. It is a key part of the borough council’s commitment to openness and accessibility. You may either attend in person to present your question, submit a written question, or ask another person or the Mayor to read your question on your behalf.

A few simple rules have been introduced to help the public question session run smoothly and to be of maximum benefit to the public. These are explained in the next section.

How do I ask a question?

A question must be submitted in writing to the Democratic Services Manager, Town Hall Chesterfield S40 1LP, by email to See also the dates of meetings and deadlines for the submission of questions. The question will be entered on a register and shall be open to public inspection.

When submitting the question, you should give your name and address and, if possible a contact telephone number or email address (please note that contact details will not be disclosed without your permission).

Who can ask a question?

You should be, or represent, a person living or working within the borough.

What can I ask?

Questions must be relevant to some matter in which the council has powers or duties. They should be limited to one subject, but may have more than one part.

Your question should avoid detailed individual service issues (such as why a particular refuse bin has not been collected). There are other ways of raising this kind of issue. Also, questions must not be such that an answer would be likely to result in the disclosure of confidential information (the council’s Democratic Services staff will explain this to you if the issue arises).

Questions relating to specific planning or licensing applications will not be accepted.

Democratic Services staff will provide every assistance to any individual wishing to ask a question, including assistance with the wording or writing of the question if requested. For further information email or telephone 01246 345273.

Can I ask the question in person at the council meeting?

Yes, you may attend and present your question in person at the council meeting. If you prefer your question (as printed) will be read out by the Chief Executive on your behalf. However, you will be invited to the meeting to hear the response given. The meeting usually follows the order as printed in the summons, but the Mayor will also explain what is happening and invite you to present your question at the appropriate time.  

Who will respond to my question?

Your question will be answered by the most relevant Portfolio Holder (that is the Cabinet member who has special responsibility for the service or topic to which the question relates) or Committee Chair. The Democratic Services section of the council will co-ordinate this process and ensure that the relevant councillor is informed of the question being posed to him or her.

Who decides what questions are answered?

The Mayor will determine which questions are to be answered at the meeting and the order in which they are taken. If more questions are received than can be answered in the time allocated (up to thirty minutes), written answers will be sent to all questions not dealt with at the meeting and copies of written answers will be available to all members of the borough council.

Details of all questions received will be made available to borough council members prior to the meeting and details of those to be answered will also be circulated in the Council Chamber at the meeting.

No discussion will be allowed on any question or answer.

A supplementary question may be permitted but it must arise directly out of the original question or the reply. 

The minutes of the meeting will record the name of the questioner, what the question was about and the name of the member replying. Minutes are available after the meeting and can be viewed on the Council’s website and at the Town Hall Offices.

Need help?

If you have any questions not answered by this guide, or you would like to talk to someone about the question session arrangements or would like assistance or advice in submitting a question, the Democratic Services staff will be very happy to help.

If so, please contact Democratic Services on 01246 345273 or email


Last updated on 14 September 2021