About Your Council
Richmondshire District Council is one of seven District Councils in North Yorkshire. It was created in 1974 by amalgamation of a number of smaller Local Authorities and contains two of the best known Yorkshire Dales – Swaledale and Wensleydale. There are 101 parishes within the District, electing 34 Members to the Council.
Until May 1999 Richmondshire was an Independent Council. Following the elections in May 1999, political groups were formed. At present the Council comprises of the following:
|Ungrouped Liberal Democrat||1|
Richmondshire District Council Constitution
The Richmondshire 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 law, while others are a matter for the Council to choose.
The Constitution is divided into 17 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.
How the Council Operates
The Council is composed of 34 Councillors elected every four years. Councillors are democratically accountable to residents of their ward. 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 Audit, Governance and Standards Committee trains and advises them on the code of conduct.
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; determine the Council's main plans; provide a forum for debate on issues of general concern to the area; hear reports back from parish forum meetings and review the Council's overall performance.
How Decisions are Made
Most day-to-day decisions are made by a committees. The Council has a Corporate Board which deals with all of its functional responsibilities. Some Committees also carry out a number of regulatory functions, including dealing with planning applications.
Meetings of the Council's committees are publicised well in advance and are open to the public except where exempt or confidential matters are being discussed.
Overview and Scrutiny
There are two Overview and Scrutiny committees which support the work of the policy committees 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 can lead to reports and recommendations which advise the Corporate Board and the Council as a whole on its policies, budget and service delivery. Overview and Scrutiny committees also monitor the decisions of the Corporate Board. They can 'call-in' a decision which has been made by a policy committee but not yet implemented. This enables them to consider whether the decision is appropriate. They may recommend that the Corporate Board or full council reconsider the decision. They may also be consulted by policy committees on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy. Both Overview and Scrutiny committees are involved in assisting the council to comply with its statutory duty to deliver 'best value' in its services and in policy review and development.
Richmondshire District Council has published its four year Council Plan which aims to provide value for money services to the people who live, work and visit the district. Central to the authority’s ambitions is the need to provide a strong focus to enable growth to support the local economy. That – along with helping vulnerable people, providing a healthy environment, working with communities and providing a fit for purpose council – is one of the five priorities that will drive the council forward to 2019.
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. A code of practice governs the relationships between officers and members of the Council.
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 council tenant, they may have additional rights. These are not covered in this Constitution.
Citizens have the right to:
- vote at local elections 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 and its committees except where, for example, personal or confidential matters are being discussed;
- petition to request a referendum on a mayoral form of executive;
- participate in the Council's question time, parish forums and contribute to investigations by the overview and scrutiny committees;
- complain to the Council via its published complaints procedure;
- complain to the Ombudsman if they think the Council has not followed its procedures properly. However, they should normally only do this after using the Council's own complaints process;
- complain to the Monitoring Officer 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 Democratic Services Manager on 01748 829100 Ext. 44011.
A statement of the rights of citizens to inspect agendas and reports and attend meetings is available at the Council's offices.