The Council is composed of 66 Councillors with one-third elected annually (three years in every four) for a term of four years. 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.
Sefton's Political Composition
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Further information on the roles and responsibilities of the Council, Cabinet and the various Committees are set out in the Constitution.
Meetings - Public Access
Meetings of the Council, Cabinet and Committees are open to the public except where exempt or confidential matters are being discussed. Government legislation defines categories of information which can, or must, be discussed in private. These are outlined in Chapter 12 of the Constitution dealing with the access to information principles.
Social Media and Filming
The use of social media for the reporting of the proceedings is permitted during public Council meetings as long as this causes no disruption to the running of meeting. In line with national legislation, the filming and recording of public meetings is also permitted, again provided the activity does not disrupt proceedings. Anyone wishing to do so is asked to inform the Democratic Services Team on 0151 934 2067, 24 hours in advance to ensure any necessary arrangements can be made.
This will include arrangements to inform the relevant committee members, any speakers and the public present. Media enquiries should be directed to the Communications Team via 0345 140 0845 while filming requests from the public should be directed to the Democratic Services Team on 0151 934 2067. The use of flash photography or additional lighting will not be permitted except with the permission of the Chairperson of the meeting. The authority given by legislation for the filming at public meetings relates to the meeting itself and does not extend to anyone seated in the public gallery who is not part of the proceedings. *Please note: Some Council meetings or parts of meetings are not open to the public due to legal requirements.
All Councillors meet together as the Council to decide the Council's overall policies and set the budget each year. The Council appoints the Mayor and the Leader of the Council, approves those matters which are part of the Council's policy framework and provides an opportunity through questioning and debate for Cabinet to be held to account. There is an opportunity for the public to ask questions or submit petitions directly to the Council.
The Cabinet is the part of the Council which is responsible for most of the day-to-day decisions. The Cabinet is made up of the Leader of the Council and six other Councillors appointed by the Leader. When major decisions are to be discussed or made, these are published in the Cabinet's Forward Plan when they can be anticipated.
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 which is outside the budget or policy framework, this must be referred to the Council as a whole to decide.
Individual Members of the Cabinet make decisions on service issues within their area of responsibility (portfolio) under delegated powers set out in Chapter 5 of the Constitution.
Regulatory and Other Committees
Decisions which are not made by the Cabinet may either be dealt with by Area Committees (see below) or, if they concern a regulatory matter such as a licensing or planning application, by the Licensing and Regulatory Committee or the Planning Committee as applicable. The Audit and Governance Committee is responsible for approving the Council's accounts, risk management and corporate governance issues.
Overview and Scrutiny Committees
There are four Overview and Scrutiny Committees which support the work of the Cabinet and the Council as a whole. They allow citizens to have a greater say in Council matters by undertaking detailed reviews of local concerns. These lead to reports and recommendations which advise the Cabinet and the Council as a whole on policies, the budget and service delivery. The Committees also monitor the decisions of the Cabinet. They consider 'called-in' decisions that have 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. They may also be consulted by the Cabinet or the Council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy.