1. Introduction

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In this section:



This Constitution sets out how Lancashire County Council operates, how decisions are made and the procedures which are followed to ensure that decision-making is 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.


The Constitution sets out the basic rules governing the way the Council transacts its business. It explains how key parts of the Council operate and explains the rights of the public in their dealings with the Council.


The Constitution aims to enhance accountability, by making it clear who takes decisions, and how they are held to account.

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What's in the Constitution


The Constitution is divided into 10 parts:

Part 1 Introduction: Provides an explanation of what the Council is and how it works.

Part 2 Public Engagement: Explains how the public can get involved in Council decision making.

Part 3 – Full Council: Explains what the Council is and how the full body of all elected councillors (members) meets to make decisions.

Part 4 – Committees: Sets out the role of each of the different committees of the Council and how they make decisions.

Part 5 – Executive: Explains the role of the Executive, which in Lancashire is called the Leader and Cabinet. The members of Cabinet have portfolios, which means they have special areas of responsibility, but meet to make decisions collectively.

Part 6 – Overview and Scrutiny: Explains the arrangements the Council has put in place to ensure that decisions are scrutinised by other members of the Council not directly involved in the decision making.

Part 7 Joint Arrangements: Sets out the joint arrangements that the Council has made to work in partnership with other councils and bodies where decision making is shared.

Part 8Councillors: Provides details about how councillors work and the measures in place to ensure that councillors maintain high standards of conduct. It also shows what payments are made to councillors.

Part 9 – Officers: Explains the role of the Council’s staff, describes the management structure of the Council, and which officers take decisions. It also explains the measures in place to ensure that officers maintain high standards of conduct and take decisions in line with expectations set by councillors.

Part 10 – Standing Orders: Set out the rules which apply to the proceedings of Council, Cabinet, committees and other decision making at the Council including the Access to Information Rules, the Financial Rules and the Procurement Rules.

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Changing the Constitution


Changes to the Constitution can only be approved at a meeting of Full Council after consideration of the proposal by the Monitoring Officer, unless in the reasonable opinion of the Monitoring Officer a change is:

a) A minor variation; or

b) To remove any inconsistency or ambiguity; or

c) To put into effect any decision of the Council or its committees or the Executive; or

d) To comply with legislative provision;

in which case the Monitoring Officer may make such a change. Any change made by the Monitoring Officer shall come into force with immediate effect but shall be referred to the next available Council meeting and shall continue to have effect only if Full Council agrees. Other changes to the Constitution shall come into effect at such a date as the Council may stipulate.

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How the Council Operates


The Council is made up of 84 councillors who are elected every four years and are democratically accountable to the public for the running of the Council and the delivery of its services. Their overriding duty is to the whole community, but they have a special duty to the people in their own electoral division, including those who did not vote for them.


The Council may co-opt a number of non-county councillors who have expertise in particular areas to serve on certain committees.


Councillors and co-opted members have to agree to follow a Code of Member Conduct to ensure high standards in the way they undertake their duties. The Audit, Risk and Governance Committee is responsible for training and advising them on the Code of Conduct.


A full list of councillors’ and co-opted members’ names and contact details, together with details of the Committees on which they serve, their membership of political parties and, in the case of Cabinet Members, their area of responsibility, can be found on the Council’s website: Council - Your Councillors (lancashire.gov.uk).

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Full Council


All councillors meet together as the Full Council at least six times each year. Meetings are open to the public but they may be excluded where information of an exempt or confidential nature is being discussed – see the Access to Information Rules.


The main role of the Full Council is to approve the Constitution and any amendments to it, to determine the policies which will set the framework for how the Council's functions are carried out, and to set the Council's Budget and Council Tax levels (referred to as the Council’s Budget and Policy Framework).


On an annual basis, the Full Council appoints the Chair and Vice Chair of the Council and the Chairs and Deputy Chairs of its committees and sub-committees. Full Council also decides on the delegation of certain functions to the Cabinet and some committees and joint committees.

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The Cabinet


The Cabinet is the part of the Council responsible for its important decisions. Full Council is responsible for electing (and can remove) the Executive Leader who, in turn, appoints a Deputy Leader and a Cabinet. The Council (mainly through the Overview and Scrutiny process and call-in of decisions) is responsible for holding the Cabinet to account.


Within the Budget and Policy Framework set by Full Council, the Cabinet is responsible for carrying out most of the Council’s functions in delivering services to the community.


All Executive decisions are considered and approved by the Cabinet collectively. Where a decision is urgent and cannot await the next Cabinet meeting, the decision is taken by the Leader (or in their absence the Deputy Leader) and the relevant Cabinet Member and reported to the next meeting of the Cabinet.


The Cabinet comprises up to ten councillors, including the Leader and Deputy Leader. Cabinet Members are allocated specific portfolios (areas of responsibility) by the Leader.


The Cabinet generally meets once a month and can hold such other meetings as the Leader considers necessary.


The Cabinet can form committees, working groups or panels to advise the Cabinet and undertake specific Executive functions.

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Overview and Scrutiny


The Overview and Scrutiny Committees do not take service decisions. They scrutinise the work of the Cabinet, undertake policy and service reviews and make recommendations on improvements.

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Other Council Committees


By law, some Council functions cannot be undertaken by the Cabinet and are instead the responsibility of non-Executive committees.

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The Council’s Staff


In performing their various roles, councillors are supported by administrative, professional, technical and operational officers who give advice, implement decisions and provide to the public the services for which the Council is responsible.


Officers follow a Code of Conduct to ensure high standards in the way they undertake their duties. A protocol governs the relationship between officers and councillors and voting co-opted members.


Some decisions are delegated to officers to ensure that the Council can act quickly and efficiently.


Some officers have a specific duty to ensure that the Council acts within the law and uses its resources appropriately.

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How Decisions are Made


Decisions taken by the Council are divided into two types: Executive and non-Executive.


The Local Authorities (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulations 2000 and subsequent regulations give effect to section 13 of the Local Government Act 2000 by specifying which functions are not to be the responsibility of the Executive; which may (but need not) be the responsibility of the Executive (Local Choice functions); and which are to some extent the responsibility of the Executive. All other functions not so specified are the responsibility of the Executive.


Executive decisions relate to all of the Council’s functions that are not Full Council (or non-Executive) functions. They include those Local Choice functions (identified in Part 3) that the Council has decided should be the responsibility of the Executive. Executive decisions are taken by the Leader, Cabinet, Cabinet committees, Cabinet Members or officers under delegated authority in accordance with, and in order to implement, the Budget and Policy Framework.


Non-Executive functions are powers and duties that under statute are not the responsibility of the Leader, Cabinet or Cabinet Members. The power to exercise non-Executive functions is either reserved to the Council or delegated by the Council to committees or officers, as set out in Parts 3, 4 and 9.


The Cabinet is the part of the Council responsible for its most important decisions. When Key Decisions (these are specific significant decisions defined in Part 5) are to be discussed or made, these are published in the Council’s Forward Plan and a public notice is placed on the Council’s website. If Key Decisions are to be discussed at a Cabinet meeting, it will generally be open for the public to attend except where confidential or exempt information (defined in Part 5) is being discussed.


The Cabinet generally has to make decisions that are in line with the Council’s Budget and Policy Framework. If it wishes to make a decision that is not consistent with the existing framework, this must usually be referred to Full Council to decide.


Officers tend to take most operational day-to-day decisions because they operate at the point closest to service delivery. For this reason, the Council has decided that unless a power or function is specifically reserved by law or in this Constitution to the Council, the Cabinet or a committee, it stands delegated to officers to the fullest extent necessary to enable them to do everything that their role requires of them from time to time.


The core objective is to ensure that decisions are made at the most appropriate level closest to the local or immediate point of service delivery, or at the level that is closest to those who will be affected by the decision in question.


Any ambiguity that may arise as to whether a decision-maker is authorised to take a decision is resolved by reference back up through the hierarchy of delegation. Individual decision-makers may consider it appropriate for a decision that would otherwise fall to be taken by them to instead be taken (or ratified) by:

a) In the case of an officer, by their manager or another senior officer; or

b) In the case of a decision-maker under a bespoke delegation, by the person or body who made that delegation.


Individual decision-makers should have regard as to whether a decision should be made in conjunction with any officer or member and the need to consult and take advice as appropriate.

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Decision Making Principles


All Council decisions will be made in the best interests of the communities of Lancashire and in accordance with the following principles: That they will:

a) Take into account all relevant considerations and ignore those which are irrelevant;

b) Have clarity of aims and desired outcomes, with clear reasons provided;

c) Be proportionate in all ways, including financially, to the issues under consideration and to the desired outcome;

d) Comply with finance, procurement and all other procedure rules, statutory requirements, guidance and codes of practice;

e) Follow best practice, securing best value and making the most efficient and effective use of resources;

f) Comply with the Budget and Policy Framework, including directorate and service budgets, business plans and any other policies, arrangements, procedures, rules, practices or protocols in force from time to time;

g) Be made after due consultation is undertaken, with proper advice and having considered alternative options;

h) Demonstrate impartiality and an absence of bias, pre-determination or conflicts of interest, and that any interests have been properly declared;

i) Assess the impact on human rights, equality, diversity and sustainability;

j) Make a presumption in favour of transparency and openness;

k) Be properly recorded and published; and

l) Have due regard to the desirability of exercising functions in a way that is designed to reduce the inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage.

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Armed Forces Covenant Duty


The Council is under a legal obligation to have regard to the following when exercising relevant functions:

a) The unique obligations of, and sacrifices made by, the Armed Forces;

b) The principle that it is desirable to remove disadvantages arising for Service people from membership, or former membership, of the Armed Forces; and

c) The principle that special provision for Service people may be justified by the effects on such people of membership, or former membership, of the Armed Forces.


Relevant functions in scope of the Covenant Duty are summarised below:

a) Local authority-delivered healthcare services: the provision of services; planning and funding; and co-operation between bodies and professionals;

b) Compulsory education functions: admissions; educational attainment and curriculum; child wellbeing; transport; attendance; additional needs support; and use of Service Pupil Premium funding; and

c) Housing functions: allocations policy for social housing; tenancy strategies; homelessness; and disabled facilities grants.


The duty to give ‘due regard’ means that decision makers should think about and place appropriate weight on the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant when carrying out relevant functions. It is not prescriptive about the actions that should be taken, nor does it mandate specific public service delivery outcomes.

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