Guide: A Guide to Committee Meetings

Part 2

Committees

The County Council has a Cabinet responsible for the delivery of the council functions in its role as:

  • Education Authority
  • Social Services Authority
  • Highway Authority
  • County Planning Authority
  • Waste Disposal Authority
  • Public Transport Authority
  • Traffic Authority

An example of what the Cabinet does would be to get involved in the Council’s budgetary process; direct the Council’s economic regeneration activities and address all issues of importance or public concern to the County.

Each Member of the Cabinet has responsibility for certain services and can take decisions on them either as an individual or with the other Members at a formal meeting.

The County Council has also created three Scrutiny Committees with power to investigate policy issues and question Members of the Cabinet, commission reports, invite outside experts to give evidence and make recommendations to the Cabinet and the County Council.

There are a number of other committees dealing with Development Management, Public Rights of Way, School Transport Appeals, Investment and Pension Fund and Farms Estate.

Every Committee has “terms of reference” which set out its powers and responsibilities – in other words what it can and cannot do. Sometimes it cannot make a decision either because it does not have the power to do so or because it needs the agreement of another Committee. In those cases the decision will have to be confirmed by another Committee or by the Council. Scrutiny Committees do not have what are called “executive powers”, rather their job is to advise other Committees who do have power to decide what may be done.

You may have noticed that some of the minutes of Committees do not have an asterisk or “star” by the side of them – that means the decision has to be confirmed by the parent Committee and/or Council. All meetings of the Council and Committees are open to the public although in some cases you may be asked to leave when they are discussing certain matters.