Decision making

The full council (a meeting of all council members) is responsible for all decisions. But in practice, most of the work is given to smaller groups of councillors or council officers (paid staff).

Every council must publish:

  • details of when key decisions will be taken
  • papers of meetings – at least 5 working days beforehand
  • minutes of meetings – showing the decisions that were made

You can view council meeting agendas, minutes and reports on your council’s website.

You can also attend most council meetings, although usually you will not be able to speak at them.


Many councils have a civic mayor or chairman of the council. They carry out ceremonial duties and chair meetings, but cannot make decisions about council business.

Some councils have an elected mayor. They’re responsible for the day-to-day running of local services.

Councils can have both elected and civic mayors.