Questions at Council meetings

If you live or work in Harlow, you can ask questions, directly and in person, to meetings of the Council, Cabinet and some Committees.

What can I ask?

You can ask a question on any matter that affects Harlow or relates to the business of the Council.

At which Council meetings can I ask a question?

You may ask a question at a meeting of the Council the Cabinet, Audit and Standards CommitteeScrutiny Committee or Licensing Committee. Council Officers will be happy to help you decide which meeting would be the most appropriate one for your question.

How do I ask a question at a Council meeting?

You must provide your question in writing, including your name and address. You must also specify the Councillor to whom your question will be addressed. Most often this will be the Leader of the Council, a Portfolio Holder (a member of the Cabinet) or the Chair of a Committee.

You can drop your question into reception at the Civic Centre or send by post, addressing it to The Managing Director, Harlow Council, Civic Centre, Water Gardens, Harlow, Essex, CM20 1WG. Or email it to

Your question must be received at least two clear working days before the meeting is due to take place. The day of the meeting and the day we receive your question do not count as clear working days, so if the meeting takes place on a Thursday, the question must be received no later than 5pm the preceding Monday (leaving Tuesday and Wednesday as the required two clear working days).

How many questions can I ask?

You can ask up to two questions at a meeting. You may also ask a supplementary question for each question asked (see section below).

What happens at the meeting?

You will be provided with a typed copy of your question and invited by the Chair to address it to the Councillor you have nominated. You will not be able to add to, or further explain your question, but must address it as written. The nominated Councillor will then offer a reply. You will then be invited by the Chair to ask one further supplementary question, but this must relate directly to your original question or the Councillor’s response to it. There will be no discussion on either the question, response or supplementary question by those present at the meeting.

How can I find out when meetings are taking place?

Full details of all Council meetings for the year ahead, including the names of all Councillors who attend those meetings, can be found on the Council’s website calendar 

What else do I need to know?

Whilst most questions are likely to be accepted as written, the Council may sometimes edit questions to make them shorter and clearer. In exceptional cases, the Council can reject a question if it feels it is inappropriate or it has been asked at a Council meeting in the past six months.

More detailed provisions on the procedure for public questions at Council meetings are contained in Rule 10 of the Council Rules of Procedure from the Council’s Constitution.

The Council also invites members of the public to speak at Development Management Committee on specific planning applications, though there is a different process for this. For more information on speaking at Development Management Committee, please see Rule 19 of the Council Rules of Procedure from the Council’s Constitution. You can also email or call 01279 446856.

For any further queries on the process for asking questions at Council meetings, you can email or call 01279 446004