The Council is made up of 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. From May 2019, the Council operates under a Leader and Cabinet model of governance and one of the 36 Councillors will be appointed by the Council to be the Leader of 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 political composition is:

  • Conservative Group: 17
  • Liberal Democrat Group: 15
  • Independent Group: 2
  • Prosper Torbay Group: 2

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 only had 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 Cabinet and councillors at Council meetings. Officers make most day to day decisions.

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 Cabinet 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. These are done via Cabinet meetings. The Cabinet includes up to 9 councillors chosen by the Leader of the Council who make collective decisions.

The Cabinet 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 serve on the Cabinet act as a ‘watchdog’ and monitor the decisions that the Cabinet is taking. This is called ‘overview and scrutiny’. After the Cabinet 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 together with other non-Cabinet members.

When the councillors are not scrutinising the work of the Cabinet, 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 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 Civic Mayor 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 Civic Mayor also chairs (is in charge of) the Council meetings. The Leader of the Council together with his Cabinet members 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 .