Wakefield Council constitution

It's a legal requirement for a public sector organisation such as Wakefield Council to have a constitution which sets out the following:

  • how we operate
  • how decisions are made
  • the procedures we follow

This makes sure 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. Minor changes may be made during the year to make sure 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. These 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. This put the building blocks in place to achieve our vision - 'The Wakefield district'. People thrive, businesses succeed, and visitors are welcome.

The Council's Constitution

Constitution Part 1

Constitution Part 2

Constitution Part 3

Constitution Part 4

Constitution Part 5

Constitution Part 6

Constitution Part 7

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 with 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. 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. This comprises between two and nine Councillors with the Leader acting as Chair. These meetings are open to the public and you are welcome to attend. Key decisions that will be taken by Cabinet are published by the Council in the Forward Plan.

The Cabinet has the power to execute policies within the budget and policy framework approved by the full Council.

The Leader has the power to decide how services are delivered and oversee the Council's performance.

Each year the Leader and Cabinet will propose a budget for the full Council to consider. This is agreed in February/March each year and informs the billing process for the Council Tax.

The Overview and Scrutiny Management Board and Committees critically examine how the Council operates. They create annual work plans, hear from witnesses, and review performance of Council services and joint services. They scrutinise Cabinet decisions and can 'call in' decisions if they need more consideration.

The Standing Committees cover:

  • Adult Services
  • Public Health and the NHS
  • Children and Young People
  • Climate Change and Environmental Wellbeing
  • Regeneration
  • Employment and Skills

They can ask Councillors, Officers, and outside experts for information to help them make recommendations.

The Cabinet is obliged to consider recommendations of Overview and Scrutiny Committees.

Overview and Scrutiny Committees look for ways to improve existing policies and practices. 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.

The Council appoints members to other Committees, such as the Corporate Parenting Committee, Health and Wellbeing Board, Audit and Governance Committee, and Standards Committee. The Standards Committee is responsible for overseeing the Code of Conduct that all Councillors must follow to ensure they maintain high standards of conduct while carrying out their duties.

How the Council Operates

The Council is composed of 63 Councillors with one-third elected three years in four. Councillors are accountable to residents of their ward. In Wakefield, there are 21 wards. They have a duty to the whole community and to their constituents, including those who didn't vote for them.

Councillors 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 Leader provides strategic leadership and ensures the organisation meets its responsibilities. Key decisions are published in the Leader's Forward Plan.

The public can attend Cabinet meetings where major decisions are made, except for confidential topics. The Cabinet must follow the Council's policies and budget, and any decision outside these must be referred to the Council except in urgent cases.

Joint Arrangements

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

  • West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee.
  • 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

Four committees support the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board to allow citizens to have a say in Council matters. They hold public inquiries into local concerns and make recommendations to advise the Council on 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 officers who give advice, implement decisions, and manage services. Some officers ensure the Council follows the law and uses resources wisely. Rules govern the relationships between officers and Council members.

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
  • view a copy of the Constitution
  • go to Council, Cabinet, and Committee meetings, except when confidential or personal 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
  • check the Leader's Forward Plan to know about major decisions being discussed or decided by the Cabinet or officers, and when
  • go to 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 relevant office or the Complaints Officer
    • the Council will try to resolve the issue as soon as possible, but will keep the complainant informed if there are any delays
  • 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
  • report to the Council's Standards Committee if someone has evidence that a Councillor has not followed the Council's Code of Conduct
  • 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
Town Hall
01924 305177

A statement of the rights of citizens to inspect agendas and reports and attend meetings is available on request and at

Town Hall Reception
Bond Street
WF1 2QW.

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