How the Council Works

What type of authority is Milton Keynes Council

Milton Keynes Council is a unitary authority. This means that one tier of local government provides all local services. To find out more about unitary authorities visit 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 the available seats required for an overall majority.

The leader of the Council is Councillor Peter Marland - find out more about the Leader of the Council.

Labour (23 seats). 

Conservatives (19 seats)

Liberal Democrats (15 seats)

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 Business Meeting, the Council appoints the Cabinet, its Scrutiny Committees/Panels, and the Regulatory Committees, and during the year, the Council holds the Cabinet, the Scrutiny Committees and the other Committees to account.

The public has wide access to Council meetings through attendance, submission of deputations, questions and opportunity to contribute to debates.  The Council's Meeting Information System gives dates and times of meetings and access to documents.


There are three Scrutiny Committees and a Management Committee which support the work of the Cabinet and the Council as a whole.  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.  An Executive Scrutiny Panel also monitors the decisions of the Cabinet.  It can consider decisions of the Cabinet which have been “called-in” before they are implemented.  This enables the Executive Scrutiny Committee to consider whether the decision is appropriate.  It may recommend that the Cabinet reconsider the decision or refer the matter to the Council. Appropriate Scrutiny Select Committees may also be consulted by the Cabinet, or the Council on forthcoming decisions and the development of policy.

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee is responsible for overseeing the Council's Governance procedures and considering internal / external audit reports. papers and minutes from these meetings can be found on the Audit committee section of the CMIS system 

Task and Finish Groups

Task and Finish Groups are small working groups of between 3-6 Councillors which are established from time to time in order to undertake an in-depth investigation of an issue or topic of interest or concern to Councillors involved in the Scrutiny Function.

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, all elected by the Council.  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.  If these major decisions are to be discussed with Council officers at a meeting of the Cabinet, this 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.

Area Consultative Forums

In order to give people a greater say in Council affairs, the Council has established Area Consultative Forums.  These Forums have an important role to play in the overview and scrutiny of Council decisions.  They involve Councillors for each particular area, together with representatives of local parishes, and meetings are held in public.

Council employees

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 Constitution

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 and 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.

There is also a Leader's Executive Scheme of Delegation, which sets out the powers of individual Cabinet Portfolio Holders and Officers to make decisions.


Last Updated: 27 December 2019