FAQs Councillors

When does my term of office officially start?

Your term of office will start at 12.00 midnight on the Sunday following your election i.e. Sunday 10th May 2015.

When will I receive my first allowance?

Members are paid monthly in advance. At the end of June 2015, you will receive your allowance for the period 11th May to June/31st July 2015. Allowances are paid monthly into your bank account. There is a bank authorisation form to complete in your Induction Pack.

How much is the basic allowance?

The basic allowance is £8,027.00. Members' Allowances are recommended to Council by an Independent Members' Allowance Panel. In addition to the basic allowance, Members may also receive additional allowances to cover special responsibility allowances, childcare and dependent carers. All allowances are subject to National Insurance deductions (if applicable).

What other expenses can I claim?

The Members' Allowance Scheme covers all expenses other than for travelling and subsistence outside the Borough Boundary. Further information about Members' Allowances can be found in the Members' Allowance Scheme contained in the Council's Constitution or by contacting Democratic Services.

Can I pay into the Local Government Pension Scheme?

No. In accordance with the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations, which came into effect from 1st April 2014, new Councillors are no longer eligible to joining the LGPS.

What training will be available to me?

There will be some 'meet the Director' sessions arranged to guide you through the first few weeks following your election. There are mandatory training sessions in relation to Corporate Parenting, Safeguarding Adults and Public Health, which will be arranged for you. In addition, if you become a Member of the Planning of Licensing Committees, you will also need to undertake mandatory training before you can sit on those Committees. A comprehensive Training Programme is compiled at the beginning of each Municipal Year, however, if there is any specific training which you think would assist you in your role again either contact Linda or Shirley to discuss. A Performance Development Review will be arranged over the Summer to look ahead at priorities and development opportunities over the next 12 months.

How is the order of seniority of new Members determined?

Following a Local Election, the Order of Seniority is determined at the Annual Council Meeting following the Election by the drawing of lots. Following the By-Election, you will be included at the end of the current Order of Seniority.

How is the Mayor elected?

The Mayor is appointed annually in order of seniority of the time served on the Council.

Is there a room which I can use for Council business?

There is a Members' Room in the Committee Suite area of the Town Hall which has a small meeting area, telephones, television, computer etc. which can be used by all Members. There are individual lockers in the Members' Room and if you wish to have use of one please contact Democratic. In addition to this there is also room for Cabinet Members and Chairs of Planning Applications and Licensing Committees on the first floor corridor.

What is the Council's Constitution?

This is a document which has been agreed by the Council which sets out how it operates, how decisions are made, and the procedures which it has to follow. The Council has to exercise all its powers and duties in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

What is 'Full Council'?

The Full Council is where all Members sit together and make decisions which it has not delegated to another Committee or Officer in relation to non-Executive (Council) functions. Full Council cannot take decisions about Executive (Cabinet) functions. The Full Council is responsible for setting the policy framework and budget, which consists of the most important plans and strategies adopted by the Council.

What is the 'Cabinet/Executive'?

The Executive (Cabinet) is a body of 8 Members, comprising the Leader and Portfolio holders, who take decisions in relation to Executive (Cabinet) functions. Most of the decisions are exercised collectively by Cabinet, however some of its functions have been delegated to a Sub-Committee, individual Cabinet Members or Officers. More information about the role of Cabinet can be found in the Cabinet Procedure Rules within the Council's Constitution.

What is 'Scrutiny'?

The Council has five Scrutiny Committees which review and challenge decisions of the Cabinet/Executive. They also review areas of the Council's business and recommend improvements to Cabinet. More information about the individual Scrutiny Committee and their roles and responsibilities can be found in the Scrutiny Procedure Rules within the Council's Constitution. In addition, there is also a Monitoring and Co-ordination Group comprising the Chairs of the five Scrutiny Committees.

What is the Members Code of Conduct?

This is a code which has been adopted by the Council under the Local Government Act 2000 which defines the standards of conduct which is required by all Members. Every Councillor must sign an Undertaking to observe the Code, a full copy of which can be found in the Code of Conduct for Members and Co-opted Members in the Council's Constitution. There is also a local protocol on Members and Officer relations contained in the Constitution, The Borough Solicitor will invite Members to training session on the Code and Protocol.

What IT equipment and support will I receive?

The Council will ensure that you have the necessary IT equipment and support fulfil your role. IT solutions are based on each individual Members' needs and your requirements and the options will be discussed with the Members' IT Officer.

Am I allowed to use the Council's equipment for other purposes?

No. Any equipment provided by the Council is provided for Council use only. More guidance about this can be found in the Protocol on Use of IT Equipment. There is also a guide to Information Security, both of these documents will be discussed with you when your IT equipment is set up.

What other support will I receive?

Democratic Services offer a one-stop shop and will provide support and equipment to assist you in your role. They will also discuss Ward Surgery requirements with you and your other Ward Councillors.

What if I have specific additional requirements?

 If you have any additional requirements or need any further specific advice or assistance, please contact either Linda Todd, Head of Democratic and Customer Services on 388354 or Shirley Burton, Democratic Manager on 388233.

How will I receive my Council post?

Post will either be in the Members' Room or at the Town Hall Reception.

How can I obtain agendas and reports?

Copies of the agendas and reports for all Council meetings are available on the Council's website.

How do I find out information/contact details of other Councillors?

Councillor's details should be kept up to date on the website and can be found here

How do I contact Democratic Services?

By calling in at Room 116 on the first floor of the Town Hall;by emailing democratic@darlington.gov.uk or by telephoning 388351

How do I make contact with Officers in other Departments of the Council?

See the structures of departments in your Induction Pack. The structure details Chief Officers/Assistant Directors/Head of Service together with areas of responsibility and a telephone contact number-if in doubt Linda or Shirley can advise.