The Committee Model is set out below.
The Committee Model
This would be a change in how the council is run. It was introduced under the Localism Act 2011. The Committee Model is different to the Mayoral and Leader Model because it does not have any form of executive, i.e. there is no elected mayor and cabinet or leader and cabinet. It is similar to the system of local government that used to be in place before 2001 but with some important differences.
The “full council” made up of the all the elected councillors has all the powers of the Council, except for those that must be carried out by specified officers, e.g. such as the monitoring officer or chief finance officer described above.
The full council will delegate most powers to one or more committees of councillors or to officers.
Committees will have responsibility to make decisions on behalf of the council and will usually cover an area like housing, education or the environment. Committees may also delegate some of their powers to officers, such as the more routine decisions.
Committees must be politically balanced, which means that committee membership must seek to reflect the political balance in the council, as far as possible. Political balance is determined by a set of statutory rules that apply to all councils.
Is there a council leader in the Committee Model?
Yes, there is a leader of the council but they have no formal powers. The leader is elected by full council and will usually be the leader of the majority or largest party on the council.
There is a Lord Mayor who would be the civic mayor and first citizen.
Checks and balances
Overview and scrutiny committees
Under the Committee Model, there is no legal duty to set up overview and scrutiny committees.
The council may choose to appoint one or more overview and scrutiny committees, which would then operate as in the mayoral and leader models described above.
Full council can always make decisions that it has delegated to a committee or to officers.
There are statutory officers that have duties to act in certain situations:
- the chief finance officer, known as the s.151 officer, must issue a report and may act where the council is likely to set an unbalanced budget or incur unlawful expenditure and
- the monitoring officer must report to full council where an unlawful decision has been made or is likely to be made to allow the council to change its decision and act lawfully
These powers apply to any decisions made in the council.
Open government – access to information and meetings
There are rules to ensure that there is press and public access to the reports and agendas of council and committee meetings and a right to attend meetings. The press and public can only be excluded from access where certain categories of information is considered, such as personal data, and it is in the public interest.
Councils with the Committee Model
Some councils which have adopted the committee model since 2011. Examples include Brighton and Hove, London boroughs of Sutton and Barnet, Cheshire East and Sheffield.