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Local Government Essex County Council
Our intention is to provide an Introduction to the County Council. While we are aware that many people struggle to understand the workings of local councils and shy away, nevertheless for those who do wish to understand we provide this basic information. For an ‘applied overview’ you may wish to check out our May / June Review 2013:The Workings of our Local Authorities Decisions at Essex County Council are taken by elected councillors, often following discussion within committees. The councillors work within a legislative framework which ensures that all members of the community are considered when making decisions, that decisions are made openly and accountably, and that councillors maintain the highest ethical standards, ensuring their expenses and interests are a matter of public record.
To understand more fully the Council workings, use this Constitution link: The Council is composed of 75 Councillors (also known as Members) elected every four years. Members are democratically accountable to the residents of their electoral divisions. The overriding duty of Members is to the whole community, but they have a special duty to their constituents, including those who did not vote for them. (Source: From the Constitution)
To catch a glimpse of the range of the work of the County Council, the following
comes form the Constitution:
Chief Executive (Designated Head of Paid Service under Section 4 of the Local Government
and Housing Act 1989), who shall have the following functions and areas of responsibility:
(i) overall corporate management;
(ii) overall operational responsibility (including overall management responsibility
for all officers);
(iii) strategic development and performance of the organisation;
(iv) provision of professional advice to all parties in the decision-making process;
(v) together with the Monitoring Officer, responsibility for a system of record keeping
for all the Council’s decisions;
(vi) representing the Council on partnership and external bodies (as required by
statute or the Council); and
(vii) Corporate Policy.
Executive Director for Schools, Children and Families (Designated Director of Children’s
Services for the purposes of Section 18 of the Children Act 2004), who shall be responsible
for exercising the functions under Section 18 of the Children Act 2004.
Director for Adult Social Care (Designated Director of Adult Social Services for
the purposes of Section 6(A1) of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 (as
inserted by Schedule 2 to the Children Act 2004)), who shall be responsible for exercising
the functions under Section 1 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970 and
for the effective delivery of Adult Social Care Services in line with local needs
and national legislation.
Executive Director for Corporate Services, who shall have the overall responsibility
(i) Financial Resources (Revenue and Capital), Precepts and Levies;
(ii) Audit, Risk and Business Continuity;
(iii) Performance Management;
(iv) External Funding Programmes;
(v) Property Facilities and Business Support;
(vi) Essex Pension Fund
(vii) Corporate Law and Assurance.
Executive Director for Environment, Sustainability and Highways (Non-Statutory Chief
Officer for the purposes of Section 2(7) of the Local Government Act 1989), who shall
have responsibility for:
(i) the Council’s statutory responsibilities as the Waste Disposal Authority;
(ii) the Council’s statutory responsibilities as the Highways Authority;
(iii) Development Control;
(iv) Emergency Planning;
(v) economic development and regeneration;
(vi) the design and delivery of new models of working and shared services in Essex;
Assistant Chief Executive Strategic Services (Non Statutory Chief Officer for the
purposes of Section 2(7) of the Local Government Act 1989), who shall have responsibility
(i) leading and developing the Council’s policy, public engagement, communications
(ii) Community Safety; and
Executive Director for Transformation (Non Statutory Chief Officer for the purposes
of Section 2(7) of the Local Government Act 1989), who shall have responsibility
(i) leading a programme of change to achieve the Council’s transformation agenda;
(ii) oversight of the internal Human Resources functions;
(iii) internal communications; and
(iv) information services and technology.
If you wonder about Councillors, here are the requirements of them in the Constitution:
The Nolan Principles: The seven principles of public life
These principles apply to all aspects of public life; the Council has adopted these
principles which will be applied by all Members.
(i) Selflessness -Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public
interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits
for themselves, their family, or their friends.
(ii) Integrity -Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial
or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence
them in the performance of their official duties.
(iii) Objectivity -In carrying out public business, including making public appointments,
awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders
of public office should make choices on merit.
(iv) Accountability -Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions
and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate
to their office.
(v) Openness -Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the
decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions
and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
(vi) Honesty -Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests
relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising
in a way that protects the public interest.
(vii) Leadership -Holders of public office should promote and support these principles
by leadership and example.
For further understanding of the nature and working of the Council, it is our aim
from time to time to invite our representatives to tell us of their experiences at
this level of local authority, and you will find links to their interview on the
top right hand side of this page