Decision making in Derby
We make decisions on the provision of public services run in the city. These can range greatly from what days your bin is collected to how much you pay in Council Tax. There are various means by which these decisions are taken:
The city is divided into 17 wards. Each ward has three councillors elected to it by the public at local elections. This means there are a total of 51 councillors elected to Derby City Council.
Their role is to represent the public and make sure that, ultimately, the provision of services in the city is decided by elected representatives.
Council Leader and Council Cabinet
Just like the Government has a Leader (the Prime Minister) and Cabinet ministers with specific areas of responsibility, so too does the Council. The Leader is elected by all 51 Councillors and then appoints a Cabinet up to a maximum of nine fellow Councillors.
The Council Cabinet holds monthly public meetings when it makes important decisions based on the recommendations of officers. To make these decisions, Cabinet takes into account issues including but not limited to financial and social impact and public representations.
Any decision with a financial impact, whether it be a cost or saving, above £100,000 is normally decided by a Cabinet member or by all Cabinet members sitting collectively.
Councillors have a crucial role to play in terms of representing the people who live in the wards to which they were elected. They undertake regular Councillor surgeries in which the public have an opportunity to raise issues or concerns with them. These can range from matters relating to actions the council has taken to individual and specific problems facing residents.
Councillors are able to use their links to officers within the Council to ensure residents with such problems receive the help and support to which they are entitled.
A Councillor is elected to Derby City Council for a four-year term. However, the start point for these terms is staggered so only one third of the Councillors, one for each ward in the city, is up for election at any one time. This is known as the 'election by thirds' model.
The result is that every May for three successive years the Council will hold local elections at which a third of the seats will be up for election. The cycle starts then again after a fourth 'fallow' year during which there is no election.
The next fallow year is in 2013, meaning the cycle of election by thirds will start again from May 2014.
There are other decisions which are guided by regulations, such as the granting or refusing of planning permission or licensing, which can also be decided by councillors. There are monthly meetings of the Planning Control Committee and six each of the General Licensing Committee and Taxi Licensing and Appeals Committee. These committees are made up entirely of councillors who are appointed for an annual term by a meeting of all 51 Councillors.
Overview and scrutiny
Councillors also have an important role in scrutinising, questioning and challenging each others decisions. Overview and scrutiny boards are also formed by councillors appointed annually. Each board meets at least six times each year.
As well as reviewing decisions that have been taken or are to be considered by Council Cabinet, overview and scrutiny boards assist in the development of initiatives and policies by undertaking topic reviews.
Other committees and panels
There are a number of other committees and panels formed of Councillors which support the Council in other ways. Councillors sit on panels at which prospective foster or adoptive parents are interviewed. They also make sure of public representation by partaking in advisory forums on matters as far ranging as diversity and equalities to buildings conservation.
In order for an organisation the size of Derby City Council to function smoothly and effectively, it is necessary for employees of the authority to take everyday decisions. This is done by Councillors delegating decisions to Council officers.
The Council has a Scheme of Delegations setting out the sorts of decisions Council officers are able to take and those that are reserved for elected members.