An agenda (order paper) lists the matters to be discussed at a meeting and includes reports to be tabled at the meeting. The meeting is limited to only making decisions on matters included on the agenda.
Council meeting agendas are required to be available to the public at least 2 days prior to the meeting. This ensures the public and media can be aware of the items of business to be discussed.
An exception to the prior notice rules exists for items that are "urgent” or “extraordinary". Business proposed to be discussed as urgent or extraordinary must be raised at the start of the meeting with the reasons for urgency. The Council or Committee must then vote on whether these items are to be added to the agenda.
At the meeting the items are generally dealt with in the order listed on the agenda, with those requiring a decision taken first and activity reports intended for the information of Councillors after this.
Because the Council is a public body dealing with public issues and funding, its decisions and actions are given close scrutiny. Meetings are required to be held in open session with anyone, including the news media, having the right to attend.
The Council is able to exclude the public from meetings or parts of meetings when confidentiality or sensitivity is such that it is in the best interests of all that the matters be kept confidential. The reasons the public can be excluded from meetings are detailed in the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.