An agenda (Order Paper) is a document which lists what will happen/be discussed at a meeting. This document is usually available 3 days prior to the meeting and the meeting is limited to only making decisions on matters for which this prior notice has been given. This ensures that the public and the media can be aware of the items.
An exception to the prior notice rules exists for items that are "urgent or extraordinary". These need to be brought up at the start of the meeting with the reasons for urgency. The meeting then needs to resolve that they be accepted as extra items and added to the agenda.
At the meeting the items are generally dealt with in the order listed with those requiring a decision taken first and the "activity reports" which are intended for the information of Councillors at the end.
Because the Council is a public body dealing with public issues and public money, its decisions and actions are given close scrutiny. The news media attend all regular open meetings of the committees and the Council. These meetings are required to be held in open session with anyone having the right to attend. There is the right to exclude the public for a limited number of reasons when confidentiality or sensitivity is such that it is in the best interests of all that the matters be kept confidential. These reasons are give in the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.