Agenda item

Public participation

Council Procedure Rules Section 6. Members of the public who live or work in the district may put questions about the work of the council or make statements on items on the agenda to members of the Cabinet or any committee.


(Note: The maximum time to be set aside for this item is 30 minutes, but if all questions/statements are dealt with sooner, or if there are no questions/statements, the Council will proceed to the next business.)


Each person may ask one question or make one statement only. A total of five minutes will be allowed for the question to be put and answered or the statement made. If a question is raised, one supplementary question will be allowed provided that it arises directly from the reply and the overall time limit of five minutes is not exceeded.


If a statement is made, then the Chair may allow the Leader of the Council, or other member to whom they refer the matter, a right of reply.


The Constitution allows that a person who wishes to speak must register at least 15 minutes before the time the meeting is scheduled to start.  We urge anyone who wishes to register to speak to notify Democratic Services by 9am on the day of the meeting so that advice can be given on the arrangements in place.


As an alternative to addressing the meeting in person, written questions may be submitted by members of the public to the Monitoring Officer no later than 10am on Monday 19 June 2023. The written notification should detail the full question to be asked at the meeting of the Council.


The following members of the public spoke under this agenda item:


1. Jo Owen, a resident in the district, made a statement in connection with the process followed to erect 5G communication monopoles in Bury St Edmunds. She expressed her views on what she felt were the potential effects on human health and biodiversity in the locality and felt there had been a lack of transparency and consultation when the decision was taken to erect a 5G mast near to her home. Concern was particularly expressed regarding exposure to, in her view, potentially harmful levels of radiation emitted from the 5G masts.


In response, Councillor Jim Thorndyke, Portfolio Holder for Planning, stated that the Government required local planning authorities (LPAs) to ‘support the expansion of electronic communications networks, including next generation mobile technology (such as 5G)’. The Government further advised that ‘local planning authorities must determine applications on planning grounds only. They should not seek to question the need for an electronic communications system, or set health safeguards different from the International Commission guidelines for public exposure’. Councillor Thorndyke added that supplementary information, including details of consultation undertaken, was required to ensure full compliance with the requirements of the radio frequency (RF) public exposure guidelines of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). Applicants were required to ‘self-certify’ that the proposal fell within the recommended guidelines.


Councillor Thorndyke also stated that the Council would continue to lobby Government on the considerations LPAs were to take into account when determining applications for 5G mast and antennae development.


2. Aaron Leeves, a resident in the district, made a statement in connection with “the effects the Agenda 2030 and The Great Reset are having on our children and families’ lives, and how the World Health Organisation and World Economic Forum are dictating how we should live our lives.” Specific reference was given to, in his view, the impacts of the sustainable goals set out in Agenda 2030, and the detrimental impacts to the health and well being of society of the COVID-19 lockdowns; the COVID-19 vaccine; the erection of 5G communication masts; and scanning technology. He also felt that in his view, there was over sexualisation of children in the education system. 


In response, Councillor Gerald Kelly, Portfolio Holder for Governance and Regulatory, stated that the newly established West Suffolk Environment and Sustainability Working Group would be reviewing the Council’s approach to environmental issues and climate change. The group would consider a range of topics, supported by evidence, and would report back to Cabinet in due course.


3. Dylan Roques, a resident in the district, asked a question in connection with ways in which to encourage people under the age of 30 to stand as a councillor.


In response, Councillor Donna Higgins, Portfolio Holder for Families and Communities, supported the sentiments and with the help of officers, would look to develop a programme to encourage more young people to become engaged with the work of the council, the democratic process and the role and functions of a councillor. In the meantime, Councillor Higgins welcomed approaches from young people to discuss this and any other council-related matter.


4. Geoff Mealing, a resident in the district, provided his own views on the works of Alfred Kinsey and John Money. He then referred to the content of sex education taught in schools and how he felt that children were inappropriately exposed to certain aspects at too young an age. Reference was made to the LGBTQAI+ community as part of his statement.


In response, Councillor Cliff Waterman, Leader of the Council, stated that the Council was proud to raise the LGBTQAI+ flag outside West Suffolk House in recognition of Pride month. A considered approach was taken on how to teach sex education in schools and that everyone had the right to their own identity.


5. Donna Smith, a resident in the district, provided her views and doubts felt regarding the work of specific philanthropists she quoted, and of the World Health Organisation. She also gave her views on the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Particular concern was expressed that she was to temporarily lose her employment in the care sector for not being vaccinated against COVID-19. Reassurance was sought from the Council that similar impositions and restrictions would not happen again.


In response, Councillor Cliff Waterman, Leader of the Council, respected Ms Smith’s views; however, this was not within the Council’s responsibility to accept.


No further questions were asked. The Chair concluded this item and invited the members of the public present to remain in the meeting to observe the following agenda items should they wish to do so.