The principles of decision making are contained in the council's constitution.
Cabinet, Cabinet Committees and Task Groups
The Cabinet is the part of the council which is responsible for most day-to-day decisions. The Cabinet is made up of the Leader and Deputy Leader, who are elected by the council, and eight other Councillors, also elected by the council, called Portfolio Holders. Each of the Portfolio Holders is given a responsibility for leading on a particular area of the authority's functions.
When major decisions are to be discussed or made by the Cabinet (or its Committees), these are published in a document called the Forward Plan. Meetings of the Cabinet are generally open for the public to attend except where exempt or confidential matters are being discussed. The Cabinet has to make decisions which are in line with the council's overall policies and budget.
If it wishes to recommend new policies, changes to existing policies, or make a decision which is outside the budget or policy framework, this must be referred to the council as a whole to decide. The Cabinet makes all recommendations on policy following appropriate consultation through the Overview and Scrutiny process or through the Area Committees (see below).
The Cabinet appoints Committees to deal with a particular function, for example, the Contracts Committee which deals with the letting of contracts above a certain financial limit. The Cabinet can also agree to form Task Groups for specific purposes, which can include experts from outside the Council and members of the public. Task Groups are usually time-limited. They do not have any formal decision making powers and will recommend a particular course of action to the Cabinet.
Area Committees and Forums
In order to give local citizens a greater say in council affairs, Area Committees have been created. They are responsible for advising the council and the Cabinet and for making certain decisions delegated to them. They involve Councillors for each particular area and are held in public.
The Area Committees, which together cover the entire city of Hull are charged with finding ways of working with the public at a local level. Ward and Area Forums have been established throughout the city at which citizens may speak and can raise issues and give feedback on the performance and standards of publicly provided services. The Forums advise the Area Committees.
Regulatory (Excepted) Committees
There are some committees required, either because of statute or function, to deal with particular matters. These are -
- Planning Committee for all planning applications and related issues
- Licensing Committee for taxi, gaming, entertainment and miscellaneous licensing
- Appeals Committee to hear a range of appeals on personnel, complaints, Discretionary Hardship Payments etc.
- Civic Affairs Committee to deal with civic matters
- Overview and Scrutiny
There are the Overview and Scrutiny Committees which support the work of the Cabinet and the council as a whole. Their role includes allowing citizens to have a greater say in council matters by holding public inquiries into matters of local concern. These can lead to reports and recommendations which advise the Executive and the council as a whole on its policies, budget and service delivery. Overview and Scrutiny Committees also monitor the decisions of the Cabinet and its Committees.
They can 'call-in' a decision which has been made by or on behalf of 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 or refer the matter to the council. They may also be consulted by the Cabinet or the council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy.