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The people of Bristol are represented by:
- The Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson who was elected to office by a city-wide election on 15 November 2012. The Mayor will serve a term of office of 3½ years, the next mayoral election being in May 2016.
- Councillors - two each for the city's 35 wards. Councillors represent the electorate of their ward and serve for a four year term. Councillor elections are also in May and there are currently ward councillor elections in the city every three out of four years.
The current political representation on the council is:
- Labour 28
- Liberal Democrat 23
- Conservative 14
- Green 4
- Independents for Bristol 1
The current Mayor has no party political affiliation.
Annually, the Mayor will form a Cabinet. The Cabinet may comprise up to eight councillors (known as executive members), each of whom is given a portfolio of services to oversee, for instance environment, children's services, social care etc. The present Mayor has decided to have six councillors in his Cabinet.
The Cabinet, which meets in public, provides accountable leadership to the city, and determines the council's key policies. The Mayor has decided that he will assume ultimate responsibility for all major policy decisions at Cabinet meetings and following discussion with his executive members.
All councillors meet together at various times of the year as “full Council”. Council has certain powers of its own which include adopting and amending the constitution, appointing committees , adopting and amending the council's policy and budget framework, setting the council's annual budget and agreeing the level of the council tax.
Councillors also serve on various committees of the council, whose membership is usually determined at the AGM of full council. There are a range of committees which can be summarised as follows:
- Regulatory committees, such as Licensing, Public Safety and Protection, Development Control and Public Rights of Way and Greens. These meetings each have powers to take decisions within their areas of responsibility so Development Control determines planning applications, Licensing and Public Safety determine various licensing matters and so on
- Scrutiny commissions, and select committees. The formal function of scrutiny is to hold the executive (ie the Mayor and his cabinet ) to account. This is carried out in a number of ways which includes helping the executive with policy development, and maintaining an overview of the executive's decision taking.
Other miscellaneous committees which include Audit Committee, Human Resources Committee, Outside Bodies (appointments) Committee and Appeals Committees
On a day-to-day basis, services are delivered by officers employed by the council. These employees are led by a Strategic Leadership Team consisting of the City Director and four Strategic Directors for Business Change, People, Place and Neighbourhoods.