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The composition of Essex County Council

21 February 2019

Decisions at Essex County Council are made by elected councillors, who are advised by employees, also known as officers of the council. Officers are responsible for implementing decisions that are made by the councillors and managing the day to day delivery of council services.

Some officers are responsible for ensuring that the council acts within the law and uses its resources wisely. The relationship between the officers of the council and the members of the council is managed by a code of conduct.


The council is made up of representatives from all of the major political parties, as well as independent candidates. The following is a breakdown of the parties, which shows how many seats they hold:


Political party

Number of




53 Seats

Liberal Democrat


8 Seats



6 Seats

Canvey Island Independent 2 Seats



Loughton Residents Association (Independent)


Holland Residents Association (Independent)




Independent Conservative

1 Seat


1 Seat


1 Seat


2 Seats


1 Seat



75 Seats



Full Council

Full Council is a meeting of all 75 council members, also known simply as the council. Meetings of the council are open to the public. It is at these meetings that councillors decide the overall policies of the County Council and set the budget for the forthcoming year. The Council is also responsible for electing the Leader of the Council, and appointing the nine other councillors who make up the cabinet.


The Cabinet

The cabinet comprises the leader of the council and nine other elected members. The cabinet is appointed by Full Council. Each member of the cabinet has a portfolio of responsibilities. A full list of cabinet members and their responsibilities is available.

Committees and Forums

There are a number of committees and forums, through which collective decisions are made about how the council is run. These include


Essex County Council has agreed a constitution which sets out how the council works, how decisions are made and the procedures that are followed to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability to local people. Some of these procedures are required by law, while others are a matter of choice for the council.
The constitution is divided into eight parts, which set out the basic rules governing the Council’s business.

Citizens Rights

Citizens have a number of rights in their dealings with the council. Some of these are legal rights while others depend on the council’s own procedures. Where members of the public use specific council services, for example as a parent of a school pupil, they have additional rights.

Citizens have the right to:

  • Vote at local elections if they are registered
  • Contact their local councillor about any matters of concern to them
  • Obtain a copy of the council’s constitution
  • Attend meetings of the council and its committees, except where personal or confidential matters are being discussed
  • Petition to request a referendum for an elected mayor
  • To contribute to investigations by overview and scrutiny committees
  • Find out from the Forward Plan what major decisions are to be discussed by the cabinet or decided by individual cabinet members and when
  • Attend meetings of the cabinet where key decisions are being considered, except where personal or confidential matters are being discussed
  • See reports and background papers and any record of decisions made by the council and the cabinet
  • Complain to the council about any matters relating to its responsibilities with which they are dissatisfied. The council has a complaints procedure which you can access online.
  • Complain to the Ombudsman if they think that the council has not followed its procedures properly. However, they should only do this after using the council’s own complaints process
  • Complain to the Council’s Monitoring Officer if they have evidence which they think shows that a councillor has not followed the councillors code of conduct
  • Following the closure of the council’s accounts, inspect the accounts and make their views known to the external auditor

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