Executive arrangements

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In England, local authorities are required to adopt one of three types of executive arrangements, which govern how decisions will be made within the council. Before the adoption of the Localism Act 2011 there were two principal modes of executive arrangement. They are the "leader and cabinet" and "elected mayor and cabinet" models. A third option "elected mayor and council manager" was withdrawn in 2007. Since 2012, principal authorities have been allowed to return to the "Committee system".

Leader and cabinet[edit]

The leader and cabinet model was introduced following the Local Government Act 2000.[1]

It consists of the leader and the cabinet itself, which is usually formed by the majority party in the local authority. Each member of the cabinet holds a separate portfolio, such as culture, economic development, education, etc. Decisions may be taken by the individual members, or by the cabinet as a whole. These decisions are scrutinised by committees dedicated to each area. In addition, the activities of councillors can be monitored by a standards committee.

The leader and cabinet are responsible for policies, plans and strategies, which must be within the budget adopted by the full council. These will be reported to the overall council, which is convened as a whole, at regular council meetings. Ordinary committees follow and scrutinise the policies, etc., that have been taken by the cabinet. The standards committee ensures the standards of conduct are set and adhered to and the overview and scrutiny committee holds the cabinet to account for its decisions and is responsible that the democratic checks and balances are maintained. The only decisions taken by council as a whole are to appoint the leader, to approve the leader's budget, and to agree constitutional matters. Beyond that, they may raise issues, or urge the leader, cabinet, or cabinet members to take actions.

Elected mayor and cabinet[edit]

The elected mayor and cabinet model was introduced by the Local Government Act 2000 and a change to this form of executive arrangement requires a local referendum. Since the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 it is also possible for a council to resolve to adopt the model. As of May 2013, fifteen councils are using this model.

Elected mayor and council manager[edit]

The elected mayor and council manager option was also introduced by the Local Government Act 2000, but withdrawn by the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.[2] The only local authority to adopt the model was Stoke-on-Trent City Council, reverting to leader and cabinet in 2008.

Alternative arrangements[edit]

Section 31 of the Local Government Act 2000 allows district councils in two tier areas, with populations under 85,000, to propose alternative executive arrangements. There are around 50 district councils that are eligible to propose alternative arrangements under this provision.

Committee system[edit]

Under the Localism Act 2011, principal authorities (such as unitary authorities, county councils, and district councils) were allowed to return to decision-making by Committees, the historic method of local government administration. Under this model, a Council elects a leader to represent the authority, but they have no executive power. Power is exercised by a number of committees, made up of Councillors in proportion to their parties' representation on the Council. If a committee is unable to make a decision, or a minority group wish to challenge it, the decision may be referred to a meeting of the full Council for a final decision.[3]