How the council works and makes decisions

Find out how the county council works and the different ways it make decisions affecting Suffolk.

Suffolk County Council

The council is composed of 75 councillors, elected every four years. 

The next county council election will take place on Thursday 6 May 2021.

The Council is currently controlled by the Conservative party.

The full political make-up of the council is:

  • Conservative: 50
  • Green: 3 
  • Independent: 4
  • Labour: 11
  • Liberal Democrat: 5
  • West Suffolk Independents: 1
  • Vacancy: 1

The council is governed by the Constitution, which sets out rules determining how the council functions and makes its decisions.


How you are represented

If you live in Suffolk you're represented by either one or two county councillors. (Twelve of Suffolk's 63 electoral divisions are represented by two councillors instead of one.)

Large towns maybe split into several divisions and in rural areas groups of parishes make-up a single division.

You can view the Suffolk County Council electoral divisions map.

Please be advised the electoral divisions map available is a low resolution document optimised for the website. If you would like to view a higher quality resolution, please contact us at Committee.Services@suffolk.gov.uk.

See the Key to electoral divisions map.


The Leader 

The Leader of the Council is elected for a four-year term at the first annual meeting of each council term.

They have to:

  • provide effective leadership to Suffolk by managing and leading Cabinet
  • develop and approve policies, strategies and the plans of the council (except those which are subject to approval by the council)
  • act as an ambassador for the county
  • promote the work of Suffolk County Council

The role of the Deputy Leader is to step in for the Leader when they are not available.


Cabinet 

The Leader selects up to nine councillors to become cabinet members.

The Cabinet is responsible for most day to day decisions within the overall policy framework set by the council.

Each member is responsible for a portfolio of policy and service-related issues. The cabinet makes key decisions and sets the budget each year. All decisions made by the Cabinet are made collectively.

Information about matters the Cabinet will be considering are published monthly in the Key Decisions Forward Plan.

The Scrutiny Committee's role is to:

  • hold the Cabinet to account for the decisions it makes
  • review policies and contribute to their development
  • examine the way in which policies are implemented and services are delivered

The Healthy Scrutiny Committee has a wider remit across health services in Suffolk.

Its membership includes district and borough councillors, as well as county councillors.


Councillors

Our councillors are responsible for making decisions about local services and budgets.

Councillors:

  • are democratically accountable to the residents of their electoral division
  • have an overriding duty of councillors to the whole community, but they have a special duty to their constituents  (including those who did not vote for them)

Council, cabinet and committee meetings are open to the public (except when confidential matters are being discussed). It's in these meetings where councillors decide the council's policies and budget for each year.

Decisions by the cabinet are subject to scrutiny by a different group of councillors, who meet in scrutiny committees to check and monitor what the executive does.


Council staff

Suffolk County Council employs staff to:

  • give advice
  • implement decisions
  • manage the day to day delivery of its services
  • ensure that the council acts within the law and uses its resources widely

The Constitution includes a protocol governing the relationship between officers and members of the council.

There are three jobs that the council has a legal duty to provide:

  1. The Head of Paid Service: Nicola Beach, Chief Executive
  2. The Chief Financial Officer: Louise Aynsley, Head of Finance
  3. The Monitoring Officer: Tim Ryder, Assistant Director, Scrutiny and Monitoring

Services

Staff and services are organised into five main directorates:

  • Adult and Community Services (ACS)
  • Corporate Services (CR)
  • Fire and Public Safety (FPS)
  • Growth, Highways and Infrastructure (GHI)
  • Health, Wellbeing and Children's Services (HWC)

The directors of each department make up the corporate management team with the Chief Executive, the senior officer who leads and takes responsibility for the work of the paid staff of the council. 


Pay structure

The council staff pay structure contains eight grades, and the senior management pay structure contains five grades - Chief Executive, Director (in two grades), Assistant Director (in two grades) and Senior Managers. The pay median - the ratio of the highest-paid post and the average salary - is 1:6.


Code of Conduct

Download Suffolk County Council Code of Conduct (PDF, 29KB).


Find out more

For more information email committee.services@suffolk.gov.uk or call 01473 265124, Monday to Friday; 9am - 5pm.