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Speaking at Planning Committee

Virtual Planning Committee meetings

For virtual meetings of the Planning Committee, "speaking" means having the right to submit a speech on an item for decision by the Committee, which will be read to the virtual meeting by a competent Officer of the council for and on behalf of the speaker.

The public cannot physically "attend" a virtual meeting.

The government recently changed the public's legal right to attend meetings into a right to hear, by means of technology, the Councillors attending the virtual meeting remotely. Please note that any member of the press and public may watch and listen to proceedings at this 'virtual' meeting via a web link which will be publicised on the homepage of our website at least 24 hours before the meeting. Members of the press and public may tweet, blog etc. during the live broadcast as they would be able to during a regular Committee meeting at the Civic Centre.

View upcoming Planning Committee meetings.

Can I make my comments known at the Planning Committee?

Yes you can. For each application on the agenda:

  • One person may speak to object
  • One to support, and
  • One representative of an affected town, community or parish council or community forum may speak.

Requests to speak are however managed on a first come, first served basis.

For some large or complex applications the Chairman of the committee may allow additional speakers but this will not be the normal approach.

For application 19/00025/AS (Land between railway line and Willesborough Road, Kennington), the Chairman of the committee has decided to allow:-

• Three people (not one) to put their views in objection, and

• Three people (not one) to put their views in support.

How can I speak at the meeting?

To help matters run smoothly there a few simple rules to follow:

Before the meeting – request to speak

You must give written notice by 3pm on the second working day before the meeting. The best way to do this is using the online Application to Speak form. You can also let us know well in advance that you would like to speak if the application is decided by the committee by emailing Member Services or write to us giving the application reference number and your details at:

Member Services,
Ashford Borough Council
Civic Centre
Tannery Lane
Ashford
Kent TN23 1PL

Virtual meeting request to speak deadline

Written notice is required by 3pm on the second working day before a virtual meeting. For example, for virtual meetings of the Planning Committee on Wednesdays:

  • If there is no Bank Holiday on the Monday preceding the virtual meeting, written notice must be given by 3pm on the Monday.
  • If there is a Bank Holiday on the Monday preceding the virtual meeting, written notice must be given by 3pm on the Friday before.
  • If the virtual meeting immediately follows the Easter weekend, written notice must be given by 3pm on Maundy Thursday.

Registering to speak at a virtual meeting confers the right to submit a speech as follows:

  • On a first-come, first-served basis, one speech in support of, and one speech against, an item for decision, or;
  • As a duly-authorised representative of a Parish Council (or Town Council/Community Council) or Community Forum affected by an item for decision.

Providing speeches

Those registered to speak must submit to membersservices@ashford.gov.uk by 10am on the day of the virtual meeting, a copy of their speech in written, legible English. It should be no longer than 400 words, on a single side of A4 paper, printed in 12-point non-italic sans-serif font (e.g Arial). Any text above 400 words will not be read out.

Speeches received as above will be read to the virtual meeting by a competent Officer for and on behalf of the speakers, at the normal times and in the normal order during the virtual meeting (subject to the Chairman's normal discretion).

An Officer reading any speech on behalf of any speaker shall have discretion to omit/edit out any inappropriate language, information or statements.

If any defamation, insult, personal or confidential information, etc. is contained in any speech received from any speaker, and/or is read to the virtual meeting by an Officer, each speaker accepts by submitting their speech to be fully responsible for all consequences thereof and to indemnify the Officer and the council accordingly.

At the meeting

  1. You must restrict the length of your speech, so please keep to the subject of the application
  2. You may not ask questions of the Committee or try and take part in the debate
  3. You must confine your comments to Planning issues only. For some information on what constitutes a Planning issue, please see material planning considerations
  4. During your speech, you are not permitted to refer to the conduct of officers or members or to the manner in which an application has been dealt with. The Council has a separate Complaints Procedure in place to deal with these issues
  5. You are also not permitted to make personal comments about individual applicants, objectors, supporters or others involved in an application.
  6. You are not allowed to request that the Committee visits the application site
  7. If the application you wish to comment on is an “Exempt” item, i.e. an item which will be discussed in private, the Chairman may allow you to speak before the public are asked to leave the meeting. If this happens we will explain why you are being asked to leave
  8. The Chairman of the Planning Committee has sole discretion on whether a person can speak or not and retains overall responsibility for the smooth running of the meeting. His/her decision on procedural matters must be adhered to.

The Laws of Slander

These laws are very strict.

If in public you say something about a person which is not true, even if you believe it to be true, you may be sued and have to pay compensation. Therefore, you need to be very careful about any criticism you wish to make of people.

Councillors are able to speak more freely and bluntly while in Council or Committee meetings than members of the public.

You, as a member of the public, do not have the same protection.

What will happen at the meeting?

Planning Committee meetings usually start at 7pm and are held in the Council Chamber at the Civic Centre, Ashford.

Virtual Planning Committee meetings will start at the time advertised. You'll find a link to access the meeting from the homepage of our website shortly before the meeting takes place.

Each application is considered in turn with the following procedure:

  1. The chairman reads out which item is to be discussed next
  2. One of the planning officers may give an introduction or some factual updates about the application
  3. The speeches of the registered speakers will be heard in turn
  4. The relevant ward member(s) will be asked for their comments if they are present
  5. Members of the committee will debate the application and make proposals (motions) on how the application should be dealt with. Each motion must be proposed and seconded before a vote can be taken
  6. Motions are voted on in the order of which one was proposed and seconded first
  7. If a motion is carried i.e. the majority of the councillors voting support the motion, then the committee will move on to the next item on the agenda
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