The Council meeting is where all 59 Councillors discuss and decide the Council’s policy framework and budget. Certain other decisions are also reserved for the Council such as making changes to Medway’s constitution, determining electoral issues and dealing with matters which are not the responsibility of the Cabinet.
The Council meets approximately six times a year and the Mayor presides over the meeting, ensuring that business is properly conducted. In addition to receiving reports from the Cabinet, Overview and Scrutiny Committees and Council officers, time is set aside for local people to ask questions and for Councillors to submit topics for debate, known as motions.
The Cabinet is responsible for proposing the policy framework and budget to Full Council and for taking in-year decisions on resources and priorities. The Cabinet delivers and implements the budget and policies decided by Full Council.
The Cabinet consists of the Leader of the Council and up to nine other elected members. Each cabinet member has a portfolio of responsibilities although decisions are taken collectively at Cabinet meetings.
The Cabinet has a programme of work known as the forward plan. The forward plan helps the Cabinet plan its work and sets out the decisions the Cabinet will make over the next four months. It also gives residents of Medway the opportunity to comment on the issues that the Cabinet is tackling.
The Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees play a key role in developing and reviewing policy and holding the Cabinet to account through a facility to call-in Cabinet decisions for review or undertaking pre-decision scrutiny. They also have powers to scrutinise the activities and decisions of some partner organisations including the NHS and the Community Safety Partnership. Each Committee has a membership that reflects the overall political balance of the Council. Cabinet members cannot be appointed to Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
Overview and Scrutiny is one of the most important ways in which Councillors can influence Council policy and champion their constituents. Members of the Council can ask the Committees to discuss issues of local importance by asking for a Members item to be added to the agenda or through the facility to raise a Councillor Call for Action. The Committees also debate petitions presented to Council where the petitioners are not satisfied with the response they have had.
These Committees may also establish Task Groups to look at issues in-depth, taking evidence from expert witnesses and service users. The Committees can make recommendations to the Cabinet and partner organisations. Reports of completed in-depth reviews for Task Groups can be viewed here
Further details about the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s powers and responsibilities are available in the Council’s Constitution. Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings are usually held at Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent, unless otherwise stated.
There are four Overview and Scrutiny Committees: Business Support, Children and Young People, Health and Adult Social Care, Regeneration Culture and Environment, plus a Joint NHS Overview and Scrutiny Committee with Kent County Council.
These Committees deal with the functions of the Council that cannot be dealt with by the Cabinet, for example, determination of applications for planning permission. There are also Committees that must be set up under specific legislation such as the Licensing Committee.
The Councillor Conduct Committee is responsible for promoting and maintaining a high standard of conduct by councillors, co-opted members and church and parent governor representatives. The Committee also deals with complaints about the conduct of Medway’s councillors.