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How Dorset County Council works

Dorset County Council

The council is made up of 45 councillors and the major decisions of the county council are made by them.

The Council

Councillors are elected by the local community and are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the local community about local services and budgets, such as council tax. Each councillor represents a specific area and serves for a period of four years. The work of a councillor includes holding surgeries to help local people, supporting local organisations, campaigning on local issues, and developing links with all parts of the community.

Councillors are not paid a salary or wages, but they are entitled to allowances and expenses to cover some of the costs of carrying out their public duties. All councillors abide by a code of conduct, part of which requires them to declare any financial interests, gifts or hospitality that could influence any decisions they make.

The Leader

The leader of the council is Robert Gould (opens in a new window). The post of the leader is elected by all members of the council at annual council meetings. The leader chairs all meetings of the council's cabinet and leads on policy development and implementation.

The Cabinet

The cabinet is an executive group responsible for the overall business of the council. The cabinet comprises the Leader of the council, who is the chairperson, and six other members appointed by the council. Each of the members of the cabinet has a defined portfolio of responsibilities:

Robert Gould (opens in a new window) (Chairman) - Leader of the Council

Peter Finney (opens in a new window) (Vice-Chairman) - Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for environment

Toni Coombs (opens in a new window)- Cabinet member for children and young people

Rebecca Knox (opens in a new window) - Cabinet member for communities, health and wellbeing

Jill Haynes (opens in a new window) - Cabinet member for adult social care

Colin Jamieson (opens in a new window) - Cabinet member for economy and growth

Robin Cook - Cabinet member for corporate development

The decisions of the cabinet are subject to scrutiny by a different group of councillors, who meet in overview and scrutiny panels to check and monitor what the cabinet does.

The Chief Executive

The Chief Executive is Debbie Ward who was appointed in November 2012. The Chief Executive is the senior officer who leads and takes responsibility for the work of the paid staff of the council.

The Senior Management Team

The Senior Management Team is responsible for managing the activities of the council staff and for advising councillors on the potential implications of political decisions.

By law, senior council staff are not allowed to participate in any party political activity and are expected to advise and assist all councillors irrespective of their political affiliation.

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