The Council is run by an Elected Mayor and 36 Councillors (sometimes called members) who are elected by the residents of Torbay every 4 years.  They are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the local community about services provided by the Council.  As the Council is funded by public money, it has to make sure that the decisions it takes are available and accountable to the people it serves.

The Council is controlled by the Conservatives and the political composition is:

  • Conservative Group: 20
  • Liberal Democrat Group: 8
  • Independent: 3
  • UKIP: 1
  • Independent Group: 4

Following a Governance Referendum in May 2016, Torbay’s electors voted to change the governance arrangements from a Mayor and Cabinet to a Leader and Cabinet.  Therefore Torbay Council will only have an elected Mayor up until May 2019, after this time one of the 36 Councillors will be appointed by the Council to be the Leader of the Council.  To find more about the difference between the two arrangements see Governance Referendum.

It depends on the decision that needs to be made. The big decisions are made by the Elected Mayor and councillors. Officers make most day to day decisions.

The Elected Mayor and all 36 councillors meet formally as the ‘ Council ’.  At these meetings the Council sets a budget for services, the Council Tax and the Council’s plans are agreed (called the ‘policy framework’). The Council also deals with harbours, licensing and planning issues and appoints smaller groups of councillors (committees) to deal with these areas of work. 

Decision Making Structure
Diagram showing the decision making committee structure.

The Elected Mayor makes most of the Council’s big decisions as long as they are within the budget and policy framework that is set by the Council. He mainly makes his decisions at the Policy Development and Decision Group (Joint Operations Team) and (Joint Commissioning Team) meetings. The Executive includes up to 9 councillors chosen by the Elected Mayor who help and advise him.

The Elected Mayor publishes all major decisions that he and the Council intend to make in a ‘ Forward Plan ’. We also publish papers (agendas, reports and minutes) for meetings at least five days beforehand and these are available on this website.

Minutes of meetings summarising the decisions made are also available.

The other councillors, who do not work on the Mayor’s Executive, act as a ‘watchdog’ and monitor the decisions that the Elected Mayor is taking. This is called ‘overview and scrutiny’. After the Elected Mayor has made a decision, there is usually a delay of one week before it can be implemented. This allows time for councillors to consider and investigate it in more detail if they think it is not in the best interests of Torbay’s residents and visitors. They cannot change or stop a decision, but councillors can ask for the decision to be reconsidered in light of the concerns raised.

A number of councillors are appointed as ‘scrutiny leads’ and they meet as the Overview and Scrutiny Board.

When the councillors are not scrutinising the work of the Elected Mayor and Executive, they review how the Council is delivering its services in ‘review panels’ and make recommendations for improvement.

Councillors also represent the community and act as community leaders.

No. When the Elected Mayor and councillors are first elected, they have to agree to follow a code of conduct. The Code of Conduct ensures high standards and sets out the rules for how they should carry out their duties.

The Chairman is the ‘first citizen’ of Torbay. This means that he/she can represent Torbay at civic and ceremonial events, such as Royal visits and opening school fetes. The Chairman of the Council also chairs (is in charge of) the Council meetings.  The Elected Mayor is responsible for making Executive decisions.

There are many ways you can have your say and get involved in local decisions for example attend meetings, organise a petition, raise questions at question time sessions.  Alternatively, you may wish to contact your local Community Partnerships  Opens in a new window .