The Full Council, attended by all councillors, meets six times a year. The biggest decisions, such as the acceptance of policies and the budget, are reserved for full council.
Debates on issues raised by individual councillors take place at full council, and members of the public can ask questions or submit petitions as long as they give advance notice.
Every May, the full council meets to elect the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, as well as to appoint councillors to committees and sub-committees. At this meeting the Leader of the Council will present to the Council a report detailing the delegations made by him and advising of the members of the Cabinet.
Major decisions are made at meetings of the Cabinet, which are held once a month and are attended by all Cabinet members. The Cabinet is also responsible for preparing the budget and policies to propose to the Full Council. Decisions are also taken by cabinet members individually.
Councillors may ask questions as long as advance notice has been given. Members of the public may request to speak as long as the item is on the agenda and advance notice has been given. They may also submit petitions on any item relevant to the functions of cabinet (it does not have to be on the agenda) if advance notice is given. Decisions that are expected to be made over the next four months are published in the Forward Plan.
The Cabinet is made up of the Leader of the Council (currently Ian Hudspeth) and eight other councillors appointed annually by the Leader.
More information on Cabinet meetings, including information on delegated decisions by individual cabinet members, can be found in the council Constitution.
Committees cover specific functions not dealt with by the cabinet (such as audit, organisational matters, planning, and pension fund arrangements). They make decisions delegated to them by the council. Committees are made up of councillors (including Cabinet members).
Committees meet with varying regularity and are generally open to the public. The exception to this is when meetings are held in private to deal with matters exempt from the usual access to information requirements.
The three scrutiny committees meet between four and six times a year and are open to the public. They are made up of councillors who, importantly, must not be members of the Cabinet. In some cases, members of the community may be invited to sit on scrutiny committees.
Members of the public can speak or present a petition at scrutiny committee meetings. They can even suggest an issue to be the subject of a scrutiny review.
The scrutiny committees, each of which cover a specific area, are there to review council decisions before they are made and to challenge decisions after they are made on behalf of local people.