Decision making arrangements

Council's Constitution

The Council's Constitution indicates that 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, for example, personal or confidential matters are being discussed
  • petition to request a referendum on a mayoral form of executive
  • contribute to investigations by the Overview and Scrutiny Committees
  • find out, from the Cabinet's Forward Plan, which major issues are to be discussed or decided by the Cabinet and when
  • attend meetings of the Cabinet where Key Decisions are being discussed or decided
  • see reports and background papers, and any record of decisions made by the Council and Cabinet
  • complain to the Council
  • complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman if they think 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 Monitoring Officer if they have evidence which they think shows that a Councillor has not followed the Council's Code of Conduct
  • inspect the Council's accounts and make their views known to the external auditor

For more information on the above and the Council's Constitution, please contact our Head of Legal Services.

There are many practical ways in which you can have your say and get involved, and the Council welcomes participation from individuals and groups, including participating as part of our decision-making arrangements.

How our decision-making arrangements work at Elmbridge


The Council, comprising all forty-eight Members, has overall responsibility for setting its Policy Framework; the annual Budget; and Council Tax. The Council appoints the Cabinet, Committees / Sub-Committees with specific delegations. Any matters which fall outside these delegations and / or outside the Budget and Policy Framework will be considered by Council. The Council determines the Scheme of Delegation for Officers, together with Financial and Contract Procedure Rules.


The Cabinet comprises the Leader of the Council and up to nine Members with clearly defined Portfolio Holder remits. The Cabinet has executive decision making responsibilities, in accordance with the Council's agreed Budget and Policy Framework. The Council's Constitution also provides for Individual Cabinet Member Decision Making with a specific protocol and clear delegations. The Cabinet's published rolling Forward Plan, updated monthly, contains a schedule of Key Decisions (as defined in the Constitution) and other matters as known, to be considered by the Cabinet over the ensuing four month period.

Overview and Scrutiny

The Council appoints an Overview and Scrutiny Committee Key functions of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee include:

  • holding the Cabinet to account
  • monitoring Council performance
  • developing and reviewing policy
  • scrutinising externally issues of local public concern

There is more detailed information on the Overview and Scrutiny webpage, including how Members of the public can get involved, including suggesting future matters for review.

Planning Committee

The Planning Committee and its Sub-Committees, as appropriate, is responsible for the following areas of Council Business:

  • determination of planning applications not delegated to Officers of the Council
  • consideration of Tree Preservation Orders
  • ensuring an effective building control function

Licensing Committee

The Licensing Committee and its Licensing Sub-Committee are responsible for the consideration of licensing matters, not delegated to Officers, including:

  • applications relating to taxi, gaming, entertainment, food and miscellaneous licensing
  • functions relating to the Gambling Act 2005
  • the appointment, revocation, review and variance of the provision of Hackney Carriage stands within the Borough
  • functions relating to licensing and registration as set out in Schedule 1 to the Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulations 2000

Audit and Standards Committee

This Committee considers internal and external audit matters, together with the Council's arrangements for corporate governance, and agrees necessary actions to ensure compliance with best practice. The Committee also has responsibility for overseeing matters in respect of the promotion and maintenance of high standards of conduct by Councillors and Co-opted Members.

Ways in which you can get involved

Attending Council, Cabinet and Committee Meetings

Members of the public are very welcome to attend and watch the proceedings at meetings of the Council, together with the Cabinet, Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Planning and Licensing Committees. There are also opportunities to participate at various meetings and more information on how you can do this is detailed below.

All Council and Committee meetings are open to the press and public (subject to various legislative exclusions) and agendas and reports are available online via the Council's electronic diary. Should you wish to attend a meeting, most start at 7.45pm and are held either in the Council Chamber or in Committee Rooms at the Civic Centre, Esher. Cabinet meetings and Audit & Standards Committee meetings start at 7.00pm.

Sending a Deputation to a Cabinet or Committee Meeting

A deputation is a group of at least three people, who live or work within the Borough, who wish to express their views on a particular topic. A spokesperson may address the Cabinet or the Committee for a maximum of three minutes. Other members of the deputation are welcome to attend as observers. Cabinet and Committees may receive a deputation on any matter within their terms of reference except in the case of the Planning Committee, when deputations shall not be received in respect of development control matters, which are covered in the 'Speaking at Area Planning Sub-Committee' below.

Speaking at Area Planning Sub-Committees

Members of the public have the right to speak on certain planning applications being considered by the Council's East, North and West Area Planning Sub-Committees. Find out more about speaking.

Making a Representation Against a Licensing Application

There are opportunities to enable members of the public to submit representations against a Licensing Application. Information in respect of this is available on the Council's website

Standing to be a Borough Councillor

If you care about what happens in your local area, are interested in making a real difference, like getting involved and want to have your say, then you should consider standing for election as a Borough Councillor.

Becoming a local Councillor is a rewarding experience. It gives you the opportunity to help your local community and is a great way to help you contribute to decisions that will develop and define Elmbridge for future years. Find out more about becoming a Councillor.

Becoming an Independent Member of the Audit and Standards Committee

There are currently 3 Independent Members that serve on the Council's Audit and Standards Committee, and although it is no longer a statutory requirement to have independent co-optees after the recent Localism Act (2011), here at Elmbridge we believe that our Independent Members have provided a valuable service to the Committee, offering expertise, insight, and a distinct independent perspective. The Council values highly the contribution that these members make to the work of the Committee, and if you are interested in more information on how to become an Independent Member, please contact the Executive and Member Services Team.

Becoming an Independent Remuneration Panel Member

The Independent Remuneration Panel, which consists of three members, is responsible for advising the Council on the type and level of allowances to be paid to elected Councillors of the Council.

It is an opportunity to influence the way in which elected Councillors are reimbursed for their public service. The Panel is currently constituted and has no vacancy at the present time. When it is time to recruit to the post of Independent Remuneration Panel Member, details, will be placed on the Council's website at the appropriate time.

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