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Decision making

​​​​​A guide to the council's decision-making structure

Introduction

The council’s decision making arrangements are split into two elements – the executive and the non-executive – as established by the Local Government Act 2000.

The executive role includes responsibility for budget and policy development and the subsequent operational implementation of those budgets and policies. The council’s determined executive arrangements are those of the Leader and Cabinet model as prescribed in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 whereby the Leader of the council is appointed for a four year term (subject to certain restrictions) and who then determines the executive arrangements of the council, including delegation to Cabinet Members, Township Committees and Officers.

The non-executive roles are, in summary, regulatory, constitutional and personnel-related matters. This role is undertaken by various Committees appointed by the council and by Officers in accordance with terms of reference and delegations set by the council.

The council also has 4 Township Committees, which have delegated powers from both the council and the Leader of the council; and three Overview and Scrutiny Committees established further to the Local Government Act 2000 and to exercise the council’s health scrutiny function under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Meetings of the council

The full council – all 60 Councillors making decisions together – is the overall decision-making body.

The council is responsible for appointing the Leader of the council and the various Committees of the council, including the terms of reference of those Committees.

The full council meeting determines annual Budget and council Tax, including a number of plans that support the budget process. The council also determines the Policy Framework for the council, the items within the framework indicating, for example:

  • How services will be provided.
  • How the council will work with other partner organisations to achieve their joint aims.
  • How the council will monitor and improve its services.
  • How development of the physical environment will be controlled.

The council debates and determines recommendations from the Cabinet and Committees. The council also receives reports from the members of the Cabinet, from the Chairs of the Township Committees and of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees; and from representatives to other authorities and bodies.

Meetings of the council:

  • Annual council meeting - usually held in May when all the appointments to Committees and outside bodies are made and the new Mayor is installed.
  • Budget Fixing council – usually held in late February to approve the budget and set the council tax for the following financial year.
  • Ordinary meetings of council – four meetings generally held towards the end of each quarter, together with further meetings as may be required.
  • Extraordinary meetings – convened as required by law or the council’s constitution.

Who can attend council meetings

All meetings are open to the public unless excluded in accordance with the provisions of Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972. The meeting agenda page will tell you if it is open or closed.

The council has a variety of meetings for different committees. All meetings are published in the committee event calendar, you can also search for meetings by committee.

Executive decision making

Leader of the council

The Leader of the council is appointed by the council for a 4 year term of office, subject to either the Leader resigning from the office, or ‘retiring’ as a member (as any councillor must do when their term of office is over prior to seeking re-election), or being removed from the office of Leader by the resolution of the council.

On appointment by the council the leader determines the executive arrangements for the council. These comprise of:

  • The appointment of the Cabinet
  • The appointment of one of those Cabinet members as Deputy Leader of the council
  • The allocation of a portfolio of  responsibility to those Cabinet members (Cabinet members as sometimes referred to as ‘Portfolio Holders’)
  • The allocation of delegated powers to Cabinet Members, Township Committees and Officers.

The Leader of the council may vary the executive arrangements at any time, and is not required to do so only at council meetings.

The Cabinet

Membership

The Cabinet is made up of the Leader of the council and up to a further nine Councillors appointed by the Leader.  The Cabinet may comprise members from one political group only, or may comprise Members from 2 or more groups.

Roles of the Cabinet

The Cabinet develops the council’s Budget and certain policy items for recommendation to the council for approval or adoption. The process entails initial proposals being prepared by Portfolio Holders in liaison with the appropriate supporting council Officer(s). These proposals are submitted to the Cabinet for approval as the basis for consultation, including with the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee and, where appropriate, with the Township Committees – to consider corporate and local impacts respectively; and with the public and partner agencies as appropriate.

Having received the feedback for the consultation process, the Cabinet finalises proposals and presents them to full council for approval and adoption.

Once the Budget and various policies have been approved, they are implemented in accordance within the framework of executive arrangements as determined by the Leader of the council and decisions are taken by the Cabinet, individual Cabinet Members and by council Officers.

The Cabinet meets in public approximately every month.

Responsibilities of Cabinet Members

Members of the Cabinet have responsibility for overseeing particular areas of the council’s activities. These are determined by the Leader of the council and details of the current Portfolio responsibility are maintained on the council’s website.

Further to the Health and Social Care Act 2012 each portfolio holder has also been charged to show clear leadership to both the public and to officers for the promotion and improvement of the health of the local community. 

The Cabinet Members report to the full council on developments in their areas of responsibility and answer questions from other councillors.

Decision-Making by Cabinet Members

he executive arrangements include a scheme for decision making by individual Cabinet Members. These decisions are also subject to scrutiny.

Decisions

The decisions of the Cabinet and, where appropriate, Township Committees taken under the indicated executive arrangements cannot take effect immediately. Within five working days of a meeting of the Cabinet and of a Township Committee (and some Township Sub-Committees), the minutes of the meeting are circulated to councillors as a Notice of Executive Decisions. councillors then have a period of five working days to "call-in" any of the executive decisions.

Any decision that is “called-in” will not take effect until the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee has considered the matter and decided whether the decision should stand or whether it should be referred back to the decision maker or onto full council for re-consideration.

Assistants to Portfolio Holders

Cabinet Members may have Assistants identified to assist them. The Assistants may, for example, attend meetings and speak on behalf of the cabinet member. However, they cannot exercise any formal decision making role on behalf of the cabinet member.

Key Decisions

Some executive decisions are known as "Key Decisions". A Key Decision is one that is likely to lead to significant expenditure or savings within a service area, or one that is likely to have a significant impact on the life of a community within the Borough.

Details of key decisions which are to be taken are published in a Notice no later than 28 days prior to the meeting at which the decisions are to be taken. Key decisions are those that are likely to have a major impact on the life of a community on the Borough or which are likely to be financially significant.

For each Key Decision to be taken, the following information is provided:

  • The service area.
  • The date on which the decision is to be taken.
  • The decision taker.
  • The subject area for decision.
  • The anticipated outcome of the decision.
  •  A contact in respect of the item.

Key Decisions and the Forward Plan

Private Business

Details of the intention of the Cabinet to meet in private must be published in a Notice no later than 28 days prior to the meeting at which the decisions are to be taken. The Notice, published to the website and circulated to councillors, gives details of the business, the reason for privacy, and an opportunity for objections to such considerations to be registered.

Urgent Decisions

Exemption from Call-In

On occasion, it may be necessary to implement an executive decision sooner than would be possible if that decision was to go through the call-in process. In that event, the agreement of the Chief Executive in consultation with the Chair or Vice Chair of the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee to that urgency and the exemption of the item from call-in would be sought.

Omissions from the Key Decision or the Private Business Notice

In the event that it is necessary for a Key Decision which has not been included on the Notice to be taken urgently, Procedure Rules in relation to “General Exception” (in circumstances no later than five clear working days prior to the meeting concerned) and “Special Urgency” (less than five clear days prior to the meeting) come into play. The Special Urgency provisions require the agreement of the Chair or Vice Chair of the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee (or the Mayor or Deputy Mayor where appropriate) in respect of the consideration of the item.

In the event that it is necessary for an item of Private Business which has not been included on the Notice to be taken urgently, then the agreement of the Chair of the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee (or the Mayor or Deputy Mayor where appropriate) in respect of the consideration of the item must be gained.

Key decisions and private items to be made in the next 28 days.

Health and Wellbeing Board

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 established the Board (HWBB) as a statutory executive Committee of the council. Principal roles for the Board are to ensure that resources to support health improvement and people’s quality of life are used efficiently and to their full potential; to produce a high-level Joint Strategic Needs Assessment of the health and wellbeing needs of the local population; and develop a joint health and wellbeing strategy to provide a framework and priorities for commissioning plans for the NHS, social care, public health and other related services.

The Board also looks to bring together the commissioning activities of local health bodies and the local authority where this aligns with delivery of the joint strategy, seeking value for money and equity of access and outcomes.

The statutory membership of the Board comprises at least one councillor of the local authority nominated by the Leader of the council; the Directors of Adult Social Services, Children's Services and Public Health of the local authority; a representative of the local Healthwatch; a representative of the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the NHS Commissioning Board (for specific purposes) and such other persons as the Board, or the local authority after consulting the Board, thinks appropriate.

A Sub-Committee of the Board to be called the Integrated Commissioning Board’, is to be established in 2015 to bring together the joint commissioning activities of the council and the CCG for the delivery of children’s and health and social care services, and control of the council and the CCG’s ‘Section 75’ pooled budgets.

Health and Wellbeing Board

Overview and Scrutiny

Overview and Scrutiny is the process whereby executive decision-makers are held to account. Overview and Scrutiny Committees also have an important role to play in the council’s policy and budget development process. Overview and Scrutiny Committees must be made up of councillors who are not members of the Cabinet and must reflect the political balance of the council.

The council has three Overview and Scrutiny Committees to oversee council services. One of the Committees also scrutinises local health services, undertaking many of the council’s health scrutiny functions.

Overview and Scrutiny activities

Consultation on the Policy Framework

As part of the council’s Policy Framework, the Cabinet consults with the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee on its policy proposals as they arise, before making a final recommendation to the full council for approval and adoption. The process for consulting the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is set out earlier in this Guide.

The Overview and Scrutiny Committees may also be consulted from time to time on other matters which fall outside the Policy Framework in order to get the views of Members on as wide a range of issues as possible.

Directorate Plans and Performance Management

The Overview and Scrutiny Committees considers the Plans produced for each of the council’s Directorates as they apply to their particular terms of reference. As well as informing Members of the work programmes for the various services covered by the Directorates, the Plans also set the indicators to be reported to the Committee as part of the performance management framework. Further to this process, the Committee is able to call for more detailed reports on area of identified concern.

Scrutiny of Executive Decisions - The "Call-in" Process

In the event that two or more councillors feel that an executive decision made by the Cabinet or a Township Committee/Sub-Committee should receive a further consideration they can, within a set timescale, “call-in” the decision for scrutiny by submitting a formal notice with reasons and a supporting statement to the Chief Executive.

The Chief Executive determines whether the request is in order and, if in order, the item is referred to the first available meeting of the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The Committee considers the decision made and the report which led to that decision, the reasons why the decision has been called in, and the response of the decision maker and the relevant Officer. At least one of the Members who called-in the item and a representative of the decision making body are required to attend the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting.

On the basis of the evidence provided, the Committee has three options, namely:

  • To accept the decision, in which case the decision takes immediate effect; or
  • To refer the decision back to the decision maker for re-consideration, providing reasons as to why they feel it should be re-considered;
  • If it is considered the decision may be contrary to the council’s budget or an agreed policy, to refer the matter to full council for determination as to whether the original decision should be upheld or whether it should be referred back for reconsideration.

A called-in decision can only be referred back to the decision maker once. The decision maker should take into account the views of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and/or full council in re-considering the decision, but will be within its rights to re-affirm the original decision.

Other considerations

The Committees may identify topics for study and review to be undertaken by a Working group of councillors who do not serve on the Cabinet. These studies or reviews can consider activities and policies of the council, or activities and policies which cut across other public service providers. The Committee will determine the Terms of Reference, together with the timetable and study methodology, for such exercises and approve recommendations for submission to the Cabinet (and/or other bodies as appropriate).

Overview and Scrutiny Committees

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee

The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee scrutinises the supporting corporate services of the council, and maintains a ‘strategic’ overview of the council.

The Committee holds responsibility for the scrutiny of Townships generally; corporate service development and delivery; partners or key contractors relevant to the work of the Committee; corporate performance monitoring, corporate finance monitoring and input into the annual budget development.

With regard to financial matters, , the Cabinet consults with the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on its budget proposals for the following financial year, before making a final recommendation to the full council for approval and adoption. The process for consulting the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is set out earlier in this Guide. During the year, corporate financial monitoring information is provided to the Committee on a regular basis. The Committee is able to call for more detailed reports on areas of identified concern, or refer such matters to a further Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Health, Schools and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee

The Committee discharges the statutory health scrutiny functions of the council (excluding referrals to the Secretary of State, but including receipt of referrals from the local HealthWatch) and scrutinises local health services. The Committee also considers the work and policies of the Health and Wellbeing Board, and also the services provided by the council’s Adult Services and Children’s Services Directorates The Health, Schools and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee brings together developing linkages around the Health and Wellbeing Board such as integrated commissioning; joint interests such as safeguarding; the joint/partnership working with the Clinical Commissioning Group, and the existence of a common regulator (in the Care Quality Commission) across relevant council services and those of other parties who might be expected to have an involvement in the Committee.

The Committee also holds responsibility for the scrutiny of partners or key contractors relevant to the work of the Committee; and service performance monitoring. The Committee may also undertake its own studies and reviews.

In the role relating to health and wellbeing, the Committee links to the Greater Manchester Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, the Pennine Acute NHS Trust Joint Scrutiny Committee and the Pennine Care (Mental Health) NHS Trust Joint Scrutiny Committee; and may also seek contributions from the Care Quality Commission and/or non-NHS providers.

Communities, Regeneration and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee

The Communities, Regeneration and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee brings together both the physical and skills aspects of economic regeneration, and the supporting work of services such as leisure, highways, housing, environmental services etc, that provide the opportunities for work and the improvement of life experiences for communities.

The Committee holds responsibility for the scrutiny of economy and regeneration, safer Communities Partnership and related matters, partners or key contractors relevant to the work of the Committee; housing, highways, and environmental matters. The Committee may also undertake its own studies and reviews.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Non-executive decision making

The council has established the following Committees to deal with matters that cannot, by law, be dealt with under executive arrangements. Membership of these Committees can be drawn from the full membership of the council, though the council has regard to guidance concerning executive member involvement in certain bodies.

Planning and Licensing Committee

This Committee deals with a range of issues, such as:

  • Determining those planning applications and related matters that cannot be determined at a Township level or by Officers as identified with the approve delegation arrangements for planning matters.
  • Responsibility for liquor and gambling licensing matters as the council’s statutory Licensing Committee (in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003).
  • Electoral matters.

Audit and Governance Committee

The Committee approves the council’s annual accounts, receives reports from the council’s external auditor, and has oversight of the council’s internal audit function, considering inspection reports and ensuring that action is taken to address issues raised; considering the effectiveness of risk management arrangements; and ensuring that issues raised are being addressed. The Committee also has responsibility for elected member conduct and ethical considerations, together with a number of related non-executive functions.

On the basis of guidance issued by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, the council does not appoint Cabinet Members to this Committee.

Audit and Risk Management Committee

Employment and Equalities Committee

The Committee considers staffing issues, including changes to corporate conditions of service for all employees, and certain industrial relations and equalities matters.

It is scheduled to meet four times per year, though ad hoc meetings would be arranged as required.

Employment and Equalities Committee

Appointment and Disciplinary Committee

These Committees are established on an ad hoc basis to deal with recruitment and discipline of senior managers within the council.

Appeals Committee

Appeals Committees comprising at least 3 Members on a politically balanced basis are set up as and when required to deal with a range of appeals, including staffing appeals.

Dispute Committee

A Committee comprising seven Members on a politically balanced basis set up as and when required to deal with registered HR disputes.

Charitable Trustee Committee

A Committee undertaking the council’s where the council is identified as sole Trustee, including the consideration of proposals of the Cabinet where such proposals might conflict with the role of the council in its role as Charitable Trustee of land or another asset. On the advice of the Charity Commission, the council does not appoint Cabinet members to this Committee.

Charitable Trustee Committee

Township Committees and Sub-Committees

Established in 1992, the council’s four Township Committees have become an integral part of the council’s decision-making process.

The four Township Committees are Heywood, Rochdale, Middleton and Pennines, and they each comprise the Members of the Wards that fall within the boundaries of each Township (with the exception of Middleton Township Committee which holds responsibility for the area of Stakehill Industrial Park, but has no appointed representation from a Castleton Ward councillor). The Township Committees meet six times per year. Each Township Committee meeting commences with an Open Forum session, giving local residents the opportunity to raise issues of local concern.

The Township Committees hold a responsibility for the local delivery of council services covering Environmental Management (excluding Refuse Collection and Recycling and Bereavement Services), Highways and Engineering, Community Centres, Libraries, Development Control, Township Funds, and Leisure Projects – commissioning.

Such services and facilities are managed in a manner consistent with Borough-wide policies. As part of this process the Township Committees have each produced their own ‘Township Plan’ highlighting the priorities within each Township.

Township Committees also deal with a further range of issues which impact locally, such as determining Traffic Regulation Orders that are the subject of objection, Creation of Footpath Orders, Compulsory Purchase Orders and approving changes of names of schools.

Each Township Committee has a Township Planning Sub-Committee. These Sub-Committees determine most of the planning applications considered by elected Members.

Each Township Committee has devolved capital and revenue resources, including a revenue Township Fund. Examples of purposes to which these funds and budgets can be put include grants schemes; funding community and environmental projects; funding priorities identified in the Township Plan etc. The Township Committees have each established their own Sub-Committee arrangements and terms of reference for dealing with devolved services and the expenditure of devolved funds and budgets; these Sub-Committees are:

  • Heywood Township Delegated Sub-Committee.
  • Middleton Township Devolved Funding and Services Sub-Committee.
  • Rochdale Township Action and Resources Committee.
  • Pennines Township Delegated and Funding Sub-Committee.

Township Committees are not required to be politically balanced provided that the geographical area covered by the Township does not exceed two-fifths of the total geographical area of the Borough or the electorate of the Township does not exceed two-fifths of the total electorate of the Borough.

Substitute Members

Each Political Group is able to appoint up to 3 named substitute Members in respect of the following Committees:

  • Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
  • Employment and Equalities Committee.
  • Charitable Trustee Committee.

Other arrangements apply for the Planning and Licensing Committee, and Township Committees have some discretion with regard to the substitution arrangements for their respective Sub-Committees.

Substitute members can only sit on a Committee when the substantive Member is going to be absent for the duration of the meeting in question. Where a substantive Member knows they are going to be absent, they must select a Substitute from the list of named Substitutes for the Committee in question and inform the Governance and Committee Services Team of the substitution arrangements by noon on the working day prior to the date of the meeting. Members who act as a substitute Member have the same rights as the permanent Member in terms of receiving papers and speaking and voting at the meeting.

Officer decision making

In a large and complex organisation such as the council, it is not practicable for elected councillors to make all the necessary decisions. Employees of the council have certain powers to make decisions delegated to them by the council or by the Leader of the council, and these matters are listed in a Scheme of Delegation. Other more specific or ad hoc matters may be delegated by the Cabinet or a Committee, and agreement of the delegation will be recorded in the minutes of that meeting.

Declarations of interests

All Members of the council are required by the council’s Code of Conduct to declare interests they have in any matter under discussion at the meeting they are attending. These interests may be personal, prejudicial or a disclosable pecuniary interest. Such interests are based in law and the council’s Code of Conduct guides councillors as to their duties relating to interests.

In general, councillors declaring prejudicial or a disclosable pecuniary interest must leave the meeting for consideration of the relevant item of business, though certain exceptions apply, for example if an Exemption has been granted by the council’s Monitoring Officer, or if a councillor wishes to address a Committee at which members of the public also have such right.

Specific guidance is available to Members of the council on the declaration of interests and the issues to be considered.

The constitution

The detailed rules and procedures governing the council’s decision making process are on the Constitution page.

Contact

01706 924704

Committee Services
Number One Riverside
Smith Street
Rochdale OL16 1XU