The role of councillors, employees, and how decisions are made

Overview

The Council is run for and on behalf of the people of South Tyneside and the Council's assets belong, collectively, to the people of the Borough.

The Council's role is to champion and represent the social, economic and environmental well-being of the area. This role as a community leader is based on the Council's position as the locally elected democratic body.

Our aim is to work for our community in an open and transparent way and keep local people informed and involved in all we do.

Councillors

Councillors, often referred to as members - meaning members of the Council, are elected by the people of South Tyneside, to oversee the running of the Borough on their behalf.

It is important to note that councillors are not employees of the Council and are not paid a salary. Many have full-time jobs and their Council work is done in their spare time.

Councillors are the elected representatives of the people and they have to put themselves up for re-election after each four-year term they serve, if they wish to remain a councillor.

There are a total of 54 councillors in South Tyneside, with 3 representing each of the 18 wards that the Borough is split into.

Councillors do not receive a salary or wage from the Council, but they are entitled to receive a members allowance for the work they do.

All 54 councillors sit on the Council for as long as they remain a councillor. Every councillor serves for a term of 4 years before having to either put themselves up for re-election or retire.

Find your Councillors

Mayor

At the annual meeting of the Council, in May of each year, the Council appoints a Mayor to preside over its meetings for the new municipal year.

The Mayor is the "first citizen" of the Borough and spends a very busy year attending functions and events and meeting local groups and individuals.

At South Tyneside Council the office of Mayor is purely ceremonial and it does not carry with it any decision making powers.

Employees of the Council

Employees of South Tyneside Council:

  • manage and deliver the everyday services that the Council provides
  • give advice to councillors
  • implement the decisions that councillors make on behalf of the people of the Borough

They are sometimes referred to as officers.

As employees, they are paid a salary or wage to do this work.

Councillors discuss and make decisions on a wide range of issues.

They do this through a formal committee structure. Different committees have different functions.

The Council itself decides on the budget and certain high level policies (known as the Policy Framework).

The Council's Cabinet Comittee is responsible for most day-to-day decisions but must take these within the budget and policy framework set by the Council.

Search Council committees

Decision making

The Council is responsible for approving the Council budget and a series of further high level policies set out in the Council constitution.

These approvals are only given following wide consultation with partner organisations and the South Tyneside community.

Subject to Council approval of these things, the Cabinet is left to get on with making most of the major decisions for that year, on behalf of the Council.

The only provision is that, in making any decisions, the Cabinet stays within the approved community strategy and budget and policy framework.

This ensures that the Council's efforts are channelled towards achieving the priorities that have been agreed with our partners and the community we are here to serve.

For more information, see:

Meetings

There are scheduled meetings of the Council throughout the year.

These meetings are usually scheduled to take place on either the last or second last Thursday of each month, starting at 6pm. The meetings take place in the Council chamber of the Town Hall, South Shields and are open to the public to attend.

Spare copies of the agenda papers for Council meetings are made available in the Council chamber public gallery for members of the public to use and follow the meeting.

For more information, see Council and committee meetings.

Members of the public cannot directly take part in debates at Council meetings but they are able to ask questions and submit petitions. There are rules and procedures to follow if you want to do this.

Council Constitution

The Council's Constitution sets out in detail 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.

This edition of the Constitution is current at May 2023.

Council Constitution

Changes to Council structure

The Local Authorities (Referendums) (Petitions) (England) Regulations 2011

Publication of Verification Number

In accordance with Regulation 4(1) of the above regulations, the Proper Officer must publish the number of signatures needed on a petition for a referendum on whether the Borough should change to a different form of governance.

The number is equal to 5% of the number of local government electors shown in the revised register of electors having effect on the 15th February each year.  The number for 2024 is:

5658

A new number will be published in February 2025.  If this new number is less than 5658, then that lower number will be used between 15 February 2025 and 31 March 2025.

Background Information

The Local Government Act 2000 requires authorities to adopt one of four models of decision-making as follows:

  • Leader with cabinet;
  • Elected mayor with cabinet;
  • A Committee system; or
  • Arrangements prescribed by the Secretary of State

South Tyneside Council has adopted the Leader with cabinet system.

There are statutory requirements for a local authority to hold a referendum on the form of arrangements to be adopted, where it has received a valid petition to do so.

Nicola Robason
Director of Governance and Corporate Affairs and Proper Officer
Town Hall & Civic Offices
Westoe Road
South Shields
NE33 2RL