Constitution

It's a legal requirement for a public sector organisation such as Wakefield Council to have a constitution which sets out how we operate, how decisions are made and the procedures we follow. This ensures what we do is efficient, transparent and accountable to you. Some of these processes are required by law, while others we choose to follow.

The Constitution is reviewed annually, and minor changes may be made during the year to ensure the document remains fit for purpose.

The Constitution is used by Councillors and Council Officers. The Constitution is, essentially, a reference document.

More detailed procedures and codes of practice are provided via links in the Corporate Governance Framework which can be found in Part 5 of this Constitution. The Corporate Governance Framework sets out those statutory key documents, Committees and important governance roles alongside those important governance arrangements, documents, procedures and guidance which put the building blocks in place to achieve our vision - 'The Wakefield District'. People thrive, businesses succeed and visitors are welcome.

Read the full constitution here.

Contents

Foreword

Part 1 – Summary and Explanation

THE COUNCIL’S CONSTITUTION
WHAT’S IN THE CONSTITUTION
HOW THE COUNCIL OPERATES
THE LEADER
JOINT ARRANGEMENTS
OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY
THE COUNCIL’S STAFF
CITIZENS’ RIGHTS

Part 2 – Articles of the Constitution

ARTICLE 1 – THE CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 2 – MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL
ARTICLE 3 – CITIZENS AND THE COUNCIL
ARTICLE 4 – THE FULL COUNCIL MEETING
ARTICLE 5 – ROLE AND FUNCTION OF THE MAYOR
ARTICLE 6 – OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEES
ARTICLE 7 – THE CABINET (KNOWN AS THE EXECUTIVE)
ARTICLE 8 – REGULATORY AND OTHER COMMITTEES
ARTICLE 9 – STANDARDS ARRANGEMENTS
ARTICLE 10 – THE LICENSING COMMITTEE
ARTICLE 11 – JOINT ARRANGEMENTS
ARTICLE 12 – OFFICERS (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS STAFF OR EMPLOYEES)
ARTICLE 13 – DECISION MAKING
ARTICLE 14 – FINANCE, CONTRACTS AND LEGAL MATTERS
ARTICLE 15 – REVIEW AND REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 16 – SUSPENSION, INTERPRETATION AND PUBLICATION OF THE CONSTITUTION
SCHEDULE 1: DESCRIPTION OF EXECUTIVE ARRANGEMENTS

Part 3 – Responsibility of Functions

RESPONSIBILITY FOR LOCAL CHOICE FUNCTIONS SECTION 1
RESPONSIBILITY FOR COUNCIL FUNCTIONS (NON EXECUTIVE)
DELEGATIONS TO OFFICERS (EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS)
RESPONSIBILITY FOR EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS (MEMBERS)
EXECUTIVE LEADER AND CABINET MEMBER PORTFOLIO’S
DELEGATION OF EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS TO CABINET MEMBERS
JOINT ARRANGEMENTS
OFFICER DELEGATION SCHEME FOR EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS

Part 4 – Rules of Procedure

COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULES   
ACCESS TO INFORMATION PROCEDURE RULES
BUDGET AND POLICY FRAMEWORK PROCEDURE RULES
CABINET PROCEDURE RULES
OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY PROCEDURE RULES
AUDIT AND GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE TERMS OF REFERENCE
CORPORATE PARENTING COMMITTEE
JOINT CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE
LICENSING COMMITTEE AND LICENSING SUB-COMMITTEE
PLANNING AND HIGHWAYS COMMITTEE
STANDARDS COMMITTEE AND STANDARDS SUB-COMMITTEE
HEALTH AND WELLBEING BOARD
FINANCIAL PROCEDURE RULES
CONTRACT PROCEDURE RULES
SENIOR OFFICER EMPLOYMENT PROCEDURE RULES

Part 5 – Codes of Practice, Protocols and Procedures

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE FRAMEWORK
MEMBERS’ CODE OF CONDUCT
PLANNING CODE OF CONDUCT
LICENSING CODE OF PRACTICE
EMPLOYEES’ CODE OF CONDUCT
PROTOCOL FOR EMPLOYEES ON GIFTS AND HOSPITALITY
REGISTER OF EMPLOYEES’ INTERESTS
CABINET MEMBERS AND SENIOR OFFICERS PROTOCOL
PROTOCOL FOR VISITS BY HM GOVERNMENT MINISTERS AND SHADOW                  MINISTERS TO  WAKEFIELD
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER PROTOCOL
MONITORING OFFICER PROTOCOL

PART 6 – Members' Allowances and other related expenditures

MEMBERS’ ALLOWANCES SCHEME
SCHEDULE 1 – MEMBERS’ ALLOWANCES SCHEME
SCHEDULE 2 – MEMBERS’ ALLOWANCES RATE
SCHEDULE 3 - CHILDCARE AND DEPENDANTS CARERS ALLOWANCES
MAYORAL ALLOWANCES

PART 7 – Management Structure

MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE CHART

Foreword

The Council is made up of sixty-three Councillors.  There are elections in three years out of four.  Each of the twenty-one Wards has three Councillors and there is an election for one of these positions in each of the three election years.

Councillors represent their constituents' interests and work to serve the District as a whole.  They will sit on various Committees and Sub-Committees within the Council, and some will represent the Council and the Authority on important Outside Bodies at local, regional and national levels.

The full Council is responsible for setting the overall policy framework and the budget.  It meets at the County Hall in Wakefield, and its meetings are open to the public.  You are welcome to attend.

The Council appoints a Leader who then appoints a Cabinet, which comprises between two and nine Councillors with the Leader acting as Chair.  Again, the meetings are open to the public and you are welcome to attend.  A Forward Plan of key decisions that will be taken is published. 

The Cabinet is given authority by the full Council to implement its policies within the budget and policy framework agreed by full Council.  The Leader has considerable freedom to make important decisions about how services are delivered and to monitor the Council's overall performance.  Each year the Leader and Cabinet will propose a budget for the full Council to consider.  This is agreed in February each year and informs the billing process for the Council Tax.

The Overview and Scrutiny Management Board and the four Overview and Scrutiny Committees are charged with the task of critically and objectively examining aspects of how the Council is operating. They produce annual work plans and have the ability to take evidence from a range of witnesses, including community groups and national experts.  They scrutinise Cabinet decisions and examine performance both of Council services and those of outside organisations with which the Council works to provide joint services. The Committees do not have decision-making powers but they have the authority to 'call in' decisions taken by the Cabinet if they believe that further consideration on that decision is needed.

The Standing Committees cover Adult Services, Public Health and the NHS; Children and Young People; Climate Change and Environmental Wellbeing; and Regeneration, Employment and Skills.  They can call upon Councillors, Officers, and outside experts to provide evidence to inform any recommendations they wish to make. The Cabinet is obliged to consider recommendations of Overview and Scrutiny Committees.  If there is a failure to agree on an issue it can, ultimately, be referred to the full Council for a final decision.

Overview and Scrutiny Committees also examine existing policy and practice with a view to seeking to identify areas for improvement.  Again, their recommendations will be considered by the Cabinet.

Day to day implementation of policy is undertaken by the Council staff.  The management structure is shown in Part 7 of the Constitution.

There are certain decisions about planning, licensing and regulatory matters which are not the responsibility of the Cabinet nor Overview and Scrutiny Committees.  These matters are dealt with by Committees appointed by the full Council.  

In addition Council also appoints to other Committees such as the Corporate Parenting Committee, Health and Wellbeing Board, Audit and Governance Committee and Standards Committee which oversees the probity of the Council's operation, and the Code of Conduct which all Councillors have agreed to follow to ensure the highest standards of conduct are adhered to in the way in which they undertake their duties.

Part 1 - Summary and Explanation

The Council’s Constitution

The City of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council has agreed a Constitution which sets out how the Council operates, how decisions are made and the procedures which are followed to ensure that these are efficient, transparent and accountable to local people.  Some of these processes are required by the law, while others are a matter for the Council to choose.

The Constitution is divided into 16 ‘Articles’, which set out the basic rules governing the Council’s business.  More detailed procedures and codes of practice are provided in separate rules and protocols at the end of the document.

What’s in the Constitution?

Article 1 of the Constitution commits the Council to a system of efficient, transparent and accountable governance.  In carrying out its duties and responsibilities, the Council will act in an open and inclusive manner.  Articles 2 to 16 explain the rights of citizens and how the key parts of the Council operate.  These are:

  • Members of the Council (Article 2)
  • Citizens and the Council (Article 3)
  • The Full Council Meeting (Article 4)
  • Role and Function of the Mayor (Article 5)
  • Overview and Scrutiny of decisions (Article 6)
  • The Executive (Cabinet) (Article 7) 
  • Regulatory and other Committees (Article 8)
  • Standards Arrangements (Article 9)
  • The Licensing Committee (Article10)
  • Joint arrangements (Article 11).
  • Officers (Article 12).
  • Decision making (Article 13).
  • Finance, contracts and legal matters (Article 14).
  • Review and revision of the Constitution (Article 15).
  • Suspension, interpretation and publication of the Constitution (Article 16).

How the Council Operates

The Council is composed of 63 Councillors with one-third elected three years in four.  Councillors are democratically accountable to residents of their ward, within the Wakefield District there are 21 wards.  The overriding duty of Councillors is to the whole community, but they have a special duty to their constituents, including those who did not vote for them.

Councillors have to agree to follow a code of conduct to ensure high standards in the way they undertake their duties.  The Standards Committee ensures that training and advice on the code of conduct is available.

All Councillors meet together as the Council.  Meetings of the Council are normally open to the public.  Here Councillors decide the Council’s overall policies and set the budget each year.  The Council appoints the Leader of the Council.

The Leader

The Leader holds all executive powers and may choose to also have a Cabinet to assist him/her.  A Cabinet must consist of at least two but not more than nine Councillors.  The role of the Leader is to provide effective strategic leadership to the authority and to ensure that the authority successfully discharges its overall responsibilities for the activities of the organisation as a whole. When major decisions are to be discussed or made, these are published in the Leader’s Forward Plan of key decisions in so far as they have been anticipated.  If these major decisions are to be discussed and executive decisions made, the meeting of the Cabinet, will generally be open for the public to attend except where exempt or confidential matters are being discussed.  The Leader and Cabinet have to make decisions, which are in line with the Council’s overall policies and budget.  If they wish to make a decision which is outside the budget or policy framework, this must be referred to the Council as a whole to decide, except in very limited circumstances where an urgent decision is required.

Joint Arrangements

The Council has established joint arrangements for the discharge of certain functions with other Council’s.

West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee (including Trading Standards/Archives and Archaeology Sub-Committees).

  • Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation
  • West Yorkshire Fire and Civil Defence Authority
  • West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel
  • Leeds City Region Business Rates Pool Joint Committee
  • West Yorkshire Pension Fund (including the West Yorkshire Pension Fund Investment Panel and the West Yorkshire Pension Fund Advisory Group)
  • West Yorkshire Joint Scrutiny
  • Yorkshire and Humber Joint Health Scrutiny Committee 
  • Wakefield and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee – Review of Mid Yorkshire Clinical Services Strategy
  • South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Wakefield Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority
  • West Yorkshire Joint Adoption Committee

The development of partnership working across a wider range of activities has implications for the decision making arrangements and amendments to the constitution are made when necessary. 

Overview and Scrutiny

The Overview and Scrutiny Management Board is supported by three Overview and Scrutiny Committees who support the work of the Leader and Cabinet and the Council as a whole.  They allow citizens to have a greater say in Council matters by holding public inquiries into matters of local concern.  These lead to reports and recommendations which advise the Leader and Cabinet and the Council as a whole on its policies, budget and service delivery.  Overview and Scrutiny Committees also monitor the decisions of the Cabinet.  They can ‘call-in’ a decision which has been made by the Cabinet but not yet implemented.  This enables them to consider whether the decision is appropriate.  They may recommend that the Cabinet reconsider the decision.  They may also be consulted by the Leader and Cabinet or the Council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy.

The Council’s Staff

The Council has people working for it (called ‘officers’) to give advice, implement decisions and manage the day-to-day delivery of its services.  Some officers have a specific duty to ensure that the Council acts within the law and uses its resources wisely.  There are rules which govern the relationships between officers and members of the Council.

Citizens’ Rights

Citizens have a number of rights in their dealings with the Council.  These are set out in more detail in Article 3.  Some of these are legal rights, whilst others depend on the Council’s own processes.  The local Citizens’ Advice Bureau can advise on individuals’ legal rights.

Where members of the public use specific Council services, for example as a parent of a school pupil, they have additional rights.  These are not covered in this Constitution.

Citizens have the right to:

  • vote at local elections and referenda if they are registered;
  • contact their local Councillor about any matters of concern to them;
  • obtain a copy of the Constitution;
  • attend meetings of the Council, its Cabinet and its Committees except where, for example, personal or confidential matters are being discussed;
  • petition to request a Community Governance Review;
  • contribute to investigations by the Overview and Scrutiny Committees through the co-option of members of the public;
  • find out, from the Leader’s Forward Plan of key decisions, what major decisions are to be discussed by the Cabinet or decided by the Cabinet or officers, and when;
  • attend meetings of the Cabinet where key decisions are being discussed or decided;
  • see reports and background papers, and a record of decisions made by the Council and Leader and Cabinet;
  • complain to the Council by contacting the Directorate or office they want to complain about or the Council’s Complaints Officer.  We aim to put things right soon after receiving a complaint but if this isn’t possible we will write to let the complainant know what is happening
  • complain to the Local Government Ombudsman if they think the Council has not followed its procedures properly.  However, they should only do this after using the Council’s own complaints process;
  • complain to the Council’s Standards Committee if they have evidence which they think shows that a Councillor has not followed the Council’s Code of Conduct; and
  • inspect the Council’s accounts and make their views known to the external auditor.

The Council welcomes participation by its citizens in its work.  For further information on your rights as a citizen, please contact the Monitoring Officer, County Hall, Wakefield (telephone 01924 305177, e-mail monitoringofficer@wakefield.gov.uk).  A statement of the rights of citizens to inspect agendas and reports and attend meetings is available on request and at the County Hall Reception, Bond Street, Wakefield, WF1 2QW.