Political Structure - Our Constitution and the way we work.
The Constitution allocates power and responsibility and regulates the behaviour of individuals and groups through codes of conduct, protocols and Procedure Rules.
A SUMMARY OF THE COUNCIL'S CONSTITUTION
The Council's Constitution
Basildon Borough Council's Constitution sets out how the Council operates, how decisions are made and the procedures which are followed to ensure that these are efficient, transparent and accountable to local people. Some of these processes are required by the law, while others are a matter for the Council to choose.
Part 1 of the Constitution is divided into 16 articles, which set out the basic rules governing the Council's business. More detailed procedures and codes of practice are provided in separate rules and protocols at the end of the document and the Constitution also provides information regarding who Members of the Council are, what committees they serve on and the Scheme of Members' Allowances.
What's in the Constitution?
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How the Council operates
The Council is composed of 42 Members, also referred to as Councillors, who serve a four-year term of office. The regular election of Borough Councillors is held in three out of four years, with a third of the Councillors elected in each of these years. County Council elections are held in the fourth year.
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 the Members' Code of Conduct for Basildon to ensure high ethical standards in the way they undertake their duties. The Standards Committee trains and advises them on the code of conduct and deals with any formal complaints regarding Members' 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. The Council appoints a Councillor as the Leader of the Council every year who is responsible for forming a Cabinet to deal with the Council's executive functions. The Council appoints other committees to deal with issues that the Cabinet by law cannot undertake.
How Decisions Are Made
The Cabinet is the part of the Council that is responsible for taking most of the major decisions. The Cabinet is made up of a Cabinet comprising the Leader of the Council and at least two, but no more than nine, other Councillors whom he/she appoints.
Some of these Cabinet Members are allocated specific areas of responsibility and have the power to take certain decisions. When major decisions referred to as 'key decisions' are to be made, prior notice of these are published in the forward plan.
The business to be considered by other Committees are set out in their own individual work programmes which most committees have. Meetings of the Cabinet, Overview and Scrutiny Committees, the Council and other Committees are open for the public to attend except where personal or confidential matters are being discussed, as defined by the law.
The Cabinet has to make decisions, which are in line with the Council's overall policies and budget. If it wishes to make a decision that is outside the budget or policy framework, this must be referred to the Council as a whole.
Overview And Scrutiny
There are four Overview and Scrutiny Committees that support the work of the Cabinet and the Council as a whole. They allow citizens to have a greater say in Council matters by holding reviews/inquiries into matters of local concern.
In depth reviews/inquiries are undertaken by time-limited task and finish groups which are established by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission. These lead to reports and recommendations which advise the Cabinet and the Council as a whole on its policies, budget and service delivery.
Overview and Scrutiny Committees also monitor the decisions of the Cabinet. They can 'call-in' a decision which has been made by the Cabinet but not yet implemented. This enables them to consider whether the decision is appropriate. They may recommend that the Cabinet reconsider the decision. Decisions can also be called in by 20 members of the public.
Overview and Scrutiny may also be consulted by the Cabinet or the Council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy and they regularly monitor performance and budget information and provide challenge to areas of concern.
The Council's Staff
The Council has people working for it (called 'officers') to give advice, implement decisions and manage the day-to-day delivery of its services. Some officers have a specific duty to ensure that the Council acts within the law and uses its resources wisely. A code of practice that governs the relationships between officers and Members of the Council is included in the Constitution.
Citizens have a number of rights in their dealings with the Council. These are set out in more detail in Article 3. Some of these are legal rights, whilst others depend on the Council's own processes. There are various local advice agencies and local legal practices who can advise on individuals' legal rights.
Where members of the public use specific Council services, for example as a Council tenant, they have additional rights. These are not covered in this Constitution.
Citizens have the right to:
- vote at local elections if they are registered;
- contact their local Councillor about any matters of concern to them;
- obtain a copy of the Constitution;
- attend meetings of the Cabinet, the Council and its Committees except where personal, confidential or exempt matters are being discussed;
- petition to request a referendum on a mayoral form of Executive;
- find out, from the forward work programmes , what business is to be considered by the Cabinet, Overview and Scrutiny Committees and other committees where relevant;
- find out what 'key decisions' are due to be taken by the Council and how they can make representations regarding the issue;
- see reports and background papers considered by the Cabinet, Cabinet Members, the Council and any of its Committees and the record of any decisions made by the Council, its Committees, the Cabinet and individual Cabinet Members, except where they contain personal or confidential information;
- complain to the Council about the Council's handling of any matter through the complaints procedure which is available at all Council offices and on request;
- complain to the Ombudsman if they think they have suffered injustice because the Council has not followed its procedures properly. However, they are encouraged only to do this after using the Council's own complaints process;
- complain to the Standards Committee if they have evidence which they think shows that a Councillor or a member of any town, village or parish council in the Borough has not followed the Members' Code of Conduct; and
- inspect the Council's accounts and make their views known to the external auditor.
The Council welcomes participation by its citizens in its work. For further information on your rights as a citizen, please contact Committee and Member Services :
- Phone: 01268 207972
- Email: email@example.com (recommended)
- Postal address: