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How decisions are made

21 January 2016

Local government can be either unitary or two-tier. Unitary councils like Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock Councils manage all local authority services in their area. Essex is two-tier, which means there is one county council and 12 district councils.

The administrative county of Essex is divided into 70 divisions, 65 of which elect one councillor and five of which elect two councillors, making 75 councillors in total. The 75 elected councillors (sometimes called ‘members’) meet as Full Council and sit on a wide range of committees to listen to your views and make decisions about life in Essex.

Essex County Council has a leader and a cabinet who make all the key decisions. The cabinet consists of ten councillors. Each of the ten cabinet members has a special responsibility for a different area such as education, finance and heritage. This is referred to as their portfolio.

When major decisions are to be discussed or made, these are published in the cabinet’s forward plan.

Under the constitution the Full Council makes the decisions on the budget and the overall policies within which the council works. The constitution then delegates authority to the cabinet to make decisions about the day-to-day running of the council within an agreed budget and the policy framework. Decisions are taken at cabinet meetings or by individual cabinet members.

Council officers work for the council to deliver the services agreed by the councillors. Officers provide councillors with specialist knowledge and experience which assists the councillors, enabling them to make informed decisions.

The council's chief executive is Gavin Jones and he is supported by the Corporate Leadership Team.