How the Council Works
Milton Keynes Council as a unitary authority provides the majority of local government services for Milton Keynes. To find out more about unitary authorities visit www.gov.uk/understand how your council works.
Political control of the Council
The Council comprises 57 Councillors with one third elected three years in four. Milton Keynes Council is currently under no overall control which means that no one political party has over half of the available seats required for an overall majority.
The current balance of seats on the Council is as follows:
Conservatives (24 seats)
Labour (19 seats)
Liberal Democrats (13 seats)
Independent (1 seat)
Councillors are democratically accountable to the residents of their Wards. 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.
All councillors meet together as the Council. At Council meetings, normally open to the public, councillors decide the Council’s overall policies and set the budget each year. At the Annual Council Meeting, the Council elects the Mayor and appoints its Scrutiny Committees/Panels, and the Regulatory Committees.
The public has wide access to Council meetings through attendance, submission of petitions, questions and opportunity to contribute to debates. The Council's Meeting Information System - Calendar gives dates and times of meetings and access to documents.
How decisions are made
The Cabinet is the part of the Council which is responsible for most of the day to day decisions. The Cabinet is made up of the Leader and up to 9 other councillors. When major decisions are to be discussed or made, these are published in the Cabinet’s forward plan in so far as they can be anticipated. Meetings of the Cabinet will generally be open for the public to attend except when confidential matters are being discussed. The Cabinet has to make decisions which are in line with the Council’s overall policies and budget. If it wishes to make a decision which is outside the budget or policy framework, this must be referred to the Council as a whole to decide.
There are six Scrutiny Committees and a Management Committee. They allow the public to have a greater say in Council matters by holding meetings in public, and enquiring into matters of local concern. These lead to reports and recommendations which advise the Cabinet and the Council on its policies, budget and service delivery. The Scrutiny Committees will also consider decisions of the Cabinet and individual Cabinet members which have been “called-in” before they are implemented. This enables a Scrutiny Committee to consider whether the decision is appropriate. It may recommend that the Cabinet, or individual Cabinet member reconsider the decision or refer the matter to the Council. Appropriate Scrutiny Committees may also be consulted by the Cabinet, or the Council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy.
The Scrutiny Management Committee can also appoint Task and Finish Groups which are small working groups usually of between 3-6 councillors. Task and Finish Groups are established in order to undertake an in-depth investigation of an issue or topic of interest or concern.
The Council has people working for it (often 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 relationships between officers and councillors.
The Council's Constitution sets out how Council meetings operate, how decisions are made and the procedures that are followed. Some of the procedures contained within the Constitution are required by law and some are chosen by the Council.
There are basic rules set out governing the Council's business and more detailed procedures as well as Codes of Practice regarding specific aspects of meetings and procedures.
A full copy of the Constitution is available from the Council's Meeting Information System - Public Documents.
Last Updated: 23 July 2021