What is a council?
An elected body of local representatives who have power over various things locally like recycling services, housing and roads. Our council covers the Borough of Greenwich and is called Royal Borough of Greenwich (RBG).
It provides services to 17 wards as shown on the map. A was is the smallest/primary unit of English electoral geography for civil parishes, borough and district councils.
What is a councilor?
A democratically-elected representative, elected by the people to look after a specific ward for as long as they are elected. See what ward and who your ward councilors are ward by entering your postcode on the council's website here.
How is it funded?
The council receives funding to deliver public services through two major funding streams:
General funds from things like council tax, income from parking fines and grants from Central Government
Housing revenue - council property rent and sales
What kind of organisation is it?
The council is both a political organisation and an operational organisation, which delivers services to local residents. Elections take place every four years, and as with national government, it is led by a majority political party. The RBG is currently a Labour Party run council.
The council in many ways is like the national government but for local level. The leader of the council is like the prime minister and the current council leader in RGB is Danny Thorpe.
The leader of the council is voted for the post internally by the party itself. The leader of the council then forms a cabinet and appoints a cabinet lead member for the five different areas of services called departments. These departments include:
Communities and Environment
Finance and Legal Services
Health and Adult Services
Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills
Working at the level below the council leader and cabinet members are our ward councilors and it is their responsibility to represent the residents of their ward with any issues, complaints or concerns.
All these political appointees can receive a salary and/or expenses.
On the operational side and mirroring the cabinet departments is the council’s administrative/operational function supported by council officers. This is the equivalent of the civil service at the national level. They are responsible for doing the work of the council.
Leading this is the chief executive of the council. They are the equivalent of the leader of the council. S/he is responsible for the overall governance and running of the council, including delivering its statutory obligations and services.
The role of the council officers is to reflect and deliver the agreements made by the cabinet. The officers receive a salary as regular council employees.
The structure to the right shows the political and operational teams work together. Please note this diagram shows one department as an example, as the structure is essentially the same for each department.
What is the best way for constituents to engage with and influence the council?
The organogram above highlights that one way for constituents to engage with and influence local council efforts is via their ward councilors and the relevant council officer leads.
The full list of ‘levers’ available to constituents includes:
• Speaking to ward councillors as the first step – they are generally knowledgeable about the local area, cabinet members and leader. They are accountable to us and are incentivised to help us.
• Sending in questions ahead of full council meetings. Guidance on how to do this is here.
• Engaging with lead cabinet members and lead officers.
How are green issues being handled by RBG?
Green issues fall across lots of different areas. There is no one department or individual focal point currently in charge of environmental matters.
The council declared a climate emergency in June 2019. They developed the Developing a Carbon Neutral Plan in 2019 that outlines options for how it will move ahead on delivering its carbon neutral aims. The online public consultation on this document runs from 18 January to 7 March 2021.