How the Council operates
The Council has 35 councillors elected for a four year term. 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 constituents, 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. The Standards Committee trains and advises them on the code of conduct.
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, known as the budget and policy framework. The Council will elect the Leader of the Council, the Deputy Leader and the Chairs and Vice-chairs of Committees each year.
The Council has a Committee form of governance which comprises Policy Committees and Regulatory Committees. The Policy Committees are responsible for implementing the budget and policy framework as agreed by full Council and decisions must be in line with the Council’s overall policies and budget. All members of the Council are entitled to a seat on one of the Policy Committees. The Policy Committees are the part of the Council with responsibility for most day-to-day decisions. Meetings of the Policy Committees will generally be open for the public to attend except where personal or confidential matters are being discussed. If a Policy Committee 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.
Financial and Performance Management and Scrutiny of Matters of Local Concern
Each of the Policy Committees has a role in monitoring the financial and performance of specific areas of Council business. In addition, the Policy Committees are able to undertake the scrutiny of matters of local concern outside of the functions of the Council. The Regulatory Committees are responsible for specific functions of the Council, for example planning and licensing.
The Audit Committee is one of the Council’s Regulatory Committees and it is a key component of the Council’s corporate governance. It provides an independent and high level focus on the audit, assurance and reporting arrangements that underpin good governance and financial standards. It is responsible for approving the Council’s annual statement of accounts.