How Committees Work
or What is a Committee?
A committee is a group of elected councillors, who concentrate on a specific matter or issue that the council has responsibility for.
The Council has many responsibilities ranging from social care to education to community safety and has divided them up amongst its Cabinet and a number of other committees.If you would like to find out more in general about what each committee does and what responsibilities they have then start at one of the following appropriate committee pages Full Council, Cabinet or Scrutiny. Alternatively if you want to find out in more detail what is actually happening with particular committees use Minutes and Agendas or the Meetings Calendar.
Who attends the committees?
Each committee has a membership (for details see appropriate committee), which attends. There will also be a number of council officers, whose role within the council is to support the committee process. You would also find at least one representative officer from within the council, who works on the issue being discussed. The county solicitor might also be present if there are any legal issues involved.
How can I find out what happened?
By law members of the public have a right of access to certain types of information held by the Council. For example, you can see the reports going to the meetings to see if they are accurate.
Members of the public are also allowed to sit in on committee meetings however from time to time members of the public may be asked to leave a meeting for reasons stated by law such as protecting a person's privacy.
The Minutes and Agendas of committee meetings are published on the internet.
In the case of The Cabinet, the Council also has to publish a Forward Plan (302KB - pdf help) of key decisions to be taken over the next 4 months, which are judged to be of political, financial or geographical significance.
Can I get my views heard at a committee or participate in proceedings?
While there is no opportunity for members of the public to speak generally at or participate in the proceedings of any committee meeting, the Council has introduced a procedure enabling members of the public to ask questions at meetings of the County Council and at meetings of the Cabinet and Standards Committee. Similarly provision exists for members of the public to attend and make brief presentations to the Development Management Committee and Highways and Traffic Orders Committees about certain types of planning applications and traffic orders respectively. To find out more please see the Public Paragraph in the Constitution or leaflets A Guide to Committee Meetings (1.14MB - pdf help) and Having Your Say (1.01MB - pdf help)
The County Council welcomes petitions from members of the public, recognising they are another way for people to let their council know of their concerns.
The Council's petition scheme which sets out how it will deal with petitions and the public's right is included in the Council's Constitution. To find out more.
If you wish to make your views known on an issue or to raise a particular matter the best way to do that is to contact or lobby your local County Councillor.
However many proposals under consideration by the Council are subject to public consultation and are publicised through press adverts, street notices, exhibitions, the Internet etc. You can often use pre-paid forms to respond or you can write to or e-mail us.
In line with local democracy, the Council endeavours to operate by the Democratic Society's Principles for Local Participation.