Democratic Structure of the Council

Devon County Council operates with a Cabinet, which is the key decision making body and is the part of the Council responsible for most day-to-day decisions. It is made up of a Leader and no more than nine other members (Cabinet Members), all appointed by the County Council from amongst its membership. Each of these Cabinet Members takes a lead responsibility for a particular area of work, such as Economy and Skills, Highways Management, Adult Social Care and Health, Children’s Services and Schools or Organisational Development and Digital Transformation.

The current Leader is Councillor John Hart, Leader of the Conservatives.

The Cabinet meets regularly (at least once a month) in public at County Hall, Exeter. Their meetings are broadcast via the internet, and members of the public and other elected members can attend and put questions direct to the Cabinet.

The agenda for their meeting is published online and in paper format so forthcoming discussions and decisions can be seen.  The Council also publishes a forward plan, which gives advance notice of matters to be discussed at Cabinet.

council meeting

The Full Council meets five times per year and continues to be body responsible for setting Devon’s policy framework, budget and council tax.

Three influential Scrutiny Committees keep a close check on the work of the Cabinet. These cover Corporate, Infrastructure & Regulatory Services (corporate and strategic services, community safety and place shaping services covering the environment, economy, planning and transport, libraries and culture), Children’s Services (services for children including social care, safeguarding and special needs services, schools and learning) and Health & Adult Care (services for adults including social care, safeguarding and special needs services and relating to the health and wellbeing of the people of Devon and other activities such as commissioning strategies and strategic needs assessments relating to the planning, provision and operation of the health service in Devon).

These all-party committees operate like Parliamentary Select Committees and can examine decisions of the Cabinet and/or Cabinet Members in more depth, investigate key issues of public concern, and recommend action to the Cabinet and the Council.

A number of other committees report directly to the Full Council. These cover statutory or quasi-judicial functions such as Development Control, Public Rights of Way, and Appeals. Please see our Committee Structure Diagram.

The Chairperson of the Council is a non-executive position and the holder fulfils an ambassadorial role on behalf of the County Council. This position changes each year.

Details of all meetings, committee agendas and minutes are published on the Devon County Council website.