Our decision-making process

We have a constitution which sets out how the Council operates, how decisions are made, and the procedures which are followed, to ensure that these are efficient, transparent and accountable to local people. View our constitution.

Grouping of responsibilities

The law divides the Council's work into three categories:

  • Council Responsibilities - These must be the responsibility of full Council but full Council may delegate to committees and to officers.
  • Executive Responsibilities - These are the responsibility of the Leader of the Council. The Leader may delegate to committees, to councillors individually and to officers.
  • Local Choice Responsibilities - It is up to the Council whether these are the responsibility of full Council or the Leader.

Executive responsibilities

Council agreed its current decision-making arrangements in May 2011 and in May 2012. The Council operates the "Strong Leader" model which means that all executive responsibilities are those of the leader and the leader decides how they are allocated.

Executive Responsibilities are allocated in this way:

  • Cabinet - The Board is responsible for reaching decisions on the matters set out in paragraph 4.5 of the Constitution.  The Board recommends policy and the Council's Budget to full Council.
  • Council Officers - Council Officers are responsible for taking decisions on all executive responsibilities not referred to in paragraphs 4.5 and 4.6.

In addition, all city councillors have an annual budget of £1,500 to spend in or for the benefit of their Ward

Council responsibilities

Council responsibilities are allocated in this way:

  • Full Council - responsible for reaching final decisions on the Council's Budget and upon its Policy Framework.
  • Oxford City Planning Committee - responsible for dealing with planning applications of the sort described in paragraph 5.3(b) of the Constitution.

The Planning Review Committee reconsiders planning applications that have been dealt with by the planning committee but which councillors have "called in" for reconsideration.

Licensing Committees - There are two licensing committees that, together with sub-committees (which, by and large, are responsible for licensing casework) deal with the licensing of gambling, alcohol, entertainment, late night refreshment, taxis and private hire, street trading and sex establishments. The committees are called the Licensing and Gambling Acts Committee and the General Purposes Licensing Committee.

The licensing committees recommend licensing policy to the City Executive Board which in turn recommends the policies to full Council. After adoption by full Council, the policies form part of the Council's Policy Framework.


The Council has appointed one scrutiny committee. The committee is responsible for the matters set out in paragraph 8.1 of the Constitution.

The responsibilities of scrutiny committees in general terms are to review or scrutinise decisions taken by the Executive or any other part of the Council, to make reports to the Council or to the Executive, to report on any matters that affect the local authority's area or its inhabitants and to develop and review policy and hold the Executive to account.

If you want to get involved or know more visit our Scrutiny page.

Miscellaneous committees

There are a number of other committees as follows:

  • Appointments Committee - Appoints Directors and Heads of Service
  • Disciplinary Committee (for Directors and Heads of Service) - Decides disciplinary hearings involving Directors and Heads of Service.
  • Audit and Governance Committee - Responsible for internal control and risk management, audit and risk more generally, external audit, financial reporting and the council's statement of accounts.
  • Standards Committee - Responsible generally for overseeing and "policing" the Councillors' Code of Conduct.