How the council and cabinet work
The council is comprised of 65 councillors, elected every four years.
Councillors (who are also referred to as 'members') 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. Each year a Mayor and Deputy Mayor is appointed to lead the ceremonial and civic duties of the Borough. The council also appoints a Leader who oversees the overall management and direction of the council in consultation with senior officers. Councillors have agreed a code of conduct to ensure high standards in the way they undertake their duties.
The council and is run by a majority Conservative administration and the cabinet is made up of councillors from the Conservative Party. The composition of the council is as follows:
All councillors meet together as the full council. Meetings are normally open to the public. Here councillors decide the council's overall polices and set the budget each year. The council debates issues of current interest, considers and approves proposals from the cabinet and appoints councillors to sit on the various council committees and on outside bodies.
The full council adopted a Council Constitution in May 2002, which fully details and makes publicly available the governance arrangements for the authority. The Full Council also decides the authority's budgetary and policy framework. This framework is structured from the regular adoption and updating of key plans and strategies including the Community Plan, which set the overall direction of the authority over the next 3-5 years. Priorities and policies depend upon the political party in power.
Cabinet and decision-making
Shortly after the local elections, the Council appoints a Leader, who then appoints his/her Cabinet who make the day-to-day and strategic decisions of the council. Decisions can be made by individual cabinet members or by the cabinet collectively. To ensure accountability, who makes what type of decision is detailed in the constitution and depends upon a number of criteria, including for example, the financial cost.
When major decisions are to be discussed or made, these are published in the Cabinet's Forward Plan in so far as they can be anticipated to provide public transparency and notice. Where decisions are to be discussed at a meeting of the cabinet, this is generally open for the public to attend except where personal or confidential matters are being discussed. The Cabinet has to make decisions that are in line with the council's overall policies and budget. If it wishes to make a decision, which is outside the budget or policy framework, this must be referred to the council as a whole to decide.
Policy overview and scrutiny
Policy overview and scrutiny committees hold the cabinet to account and advises cabinet on various matters. The Executive Scrutiny Committee can 'call-in' decisions by the Cabinet or Cabinet Members and ask for them to be reconsidered. Four cross-cutting Policy Overview Committees undertake major policy or service reviews each year on a wide variety of topics of local interest. They also monitor the council's performance and budget. The External Services Scrutiny Committee scrutinises non-council organisations in Hillingdon, such as the NHS, Utility companies and the Police.
Hillingdon Council's constitution sets out how the council operates, how decisions are made, and the procedures that are followed to ensure that they are efficient, transparent and accountable to local people. Law requires some of these processes, while others are a matter for the council to choose.