How the council works

The people of Bristol are represented by:

  • The Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson who was elected by a city-wide election on 15 November 2012. The Mayor will serve a term of office of three and a half years. The next mayoral election will be in May 2016.
  • Councillors - two each for the city's 35 wards. Councillors make decisions on how to improve local services on behalf of local people and serve for a four year term. Councillor elections are also in May. There are currently ward councillor elections every three out of four years.

The current political representation on the council is:

  • Labour 30
  • Conservative 16
  • Green 14
  • Liberal Democrat 9
  • UK Independence Party 1

The cabinet

Annually, the Mayor forms a Cabinet. The Cabinet may comprise of Assistant Mayors, each with a portfolio of services to oversee. The present Mayor has decided to have five councillors in his Cabinet.

The Cabinet, which meets in public, provides accountable leadership to the city, and decides the council's key policies.

The Mayor has decided that he will assume ultimate responsibility for all major policy decisions at Cabinet meetings and at the Health and Wellbeing Board meetings following consultation with his Assistant Mayors and members of the Health and Wellbeing Board.

Full council

All councillors meet at various times of the year as “Full Council”. Council has certain powers of its own which include:

  • appointing committees
  • adopting and amending the council's policy and budget framework
  • setting the council's annual budget and agreeing the level of council tax.


Councillors also serve on various committees of the council. Membership is usually decided at the annual general meeting of Full Council.


The day to day management of the council and its services is carried out by the Strategic Leadership Team consisting of the City Director and four Strategic Directors for:

  • Business Change
  • People
  • Place
  • Neighbourhoods.