How the council operates
The council comprises 33 councillors with one-third elected three years in four.
Councillors are democratically accountable to residents of their ward. The overriding duty of councillors is to the whole community, but they have a special duty to their residents, including those who did not vote for them.
Councillors have to agree to follow a code of conduct to ensure high standards in the way they undertake their duties.
All councillors meet together as the council. Meetings of the council are normally open to the public. Here councillors decide the council’s overall policies and set the budget each year. The council also appoints the Executive and a number of other committees including three Scrutiny committees.
The Executive is the part of the council which is responsible for most day-to-day decisions. The Executive is made up of eight members, including the Leader, who is normally appointed at the Annual General Meeting. When major decisions are to be discussed, or made, these are published in the Executive’s forward plan in so far as they can be anticipated. Meetings of the Executive will generally be open for the public to attend, except where confidential matters are being discussed. The Executive’s decisions must be in line with the council’s overall policies and budget. If it wishes to make a decision which is outside the budget or policy framework, this must be referred to the council as a whole to decide, although there are some exceptions to this rule.
There are three Scrutiny committees who scrutinise the work of the Executive and the council as a whole and have a role in the development of policy. The three committees have been appointed as follows:
- Performance Scrutiny Committee
- Select Scrutiny Committee
- Policy Scrutiny Committee
- Community Leadership Scrutiny Committee
Getting citizens involved
Scrutiny committees can allow citizens’ representatives and other stakeholders to contribute to their work by involving them in reviews of the council’s policies and performance. They may also be consulted by the Executive or the council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy. The Policy Review Scrutiny Committee also monitors the decisions of the Executive and can consider requests, to “call-in” a decision which has been made by the Executive but not yet implemented. This enables the committee to consider whether the decision is appropriate, and it can if necessary recommend that the Executive reconsider the decision.