How the council works

Our governance is how we operate and how we make decisions. It makes sure that decisions take public opinion into account, reflect and respond to the needs of local people, are evidence-based and are transparent and accountable.

  • We have 21 electoral wards in Barnsley. Three councillors represent each ward. Find out more about Barnsley's councillors.
  • The people who are elected are called councillors or elected members.
  • All of our councillors are involved in making decisions for the council. This happens in lots of different ways. Our most important decisions are made by all councillors at Full Council.
  • Our local government elections take place over a four-year cycle. A third of the seats are elected every year for three years. No elections are made in the fourth year.

Our priorities

Barnsley 2030 sets out our long-term vision for Barnsley and how we will work together with our place partners to achieve it.

It's about celebrating and championing our borough, and we're looking to 2030 as we feel this will give us enough time to make some real progress in achieving our bold ambitions for the borough.

Our Council Plan for 2021 to 2024 sets out what we aim to achieve over three years. Our plan gives us a clear direction to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and build our borough back better and fairer. It focuses on how we collectively deliver our services across the council to best support residents, communities, partners and businesses. It explains what we want to do, how we plan to do it, and how we'll measure whether we're on track to achieve it.

How we make decisions

Our constitution includes information about how we operate, how we make decisions and the procedures we follow to ensure that any decisions we make are efficient, transparent and accountable to the people who live in the borough. Read more about our constitution.

Full Council

Full Council makes decisions on our council plans, priorities and policies, and sets the budget and council tax each year. Together, the 63 elected councillors make up Full Council.

Full Council meets six times a year. They’re public meetings (there may be some private business items), which you can attend or view as a live or archived webcast.

The Full Council meeting is the ultimate decision-making body of the council and the principal forum for major political debate.

Read more about our Full Council meetings.

Cabinet

Cabinet makes decisions on council affairs, the improvement plan and performance, and the approval of policies, strategies and programmes of activity within the overall policy framework and budget. The Cabinet also makes recommendations on matters needing Full Council approval and approves key decisions.

The Cabinet is made up of the Leader and nine other councillors. The Cabinet usually meets every two weeks. They are public meetings (they may also contain some items of private business) and make recommendations to the Full Council.

Cabinet members are the councillors who are in the Cabinet. They each have a portfolio of services for which they are responsible and have meetings to discuss their specific responsibilities. Each Cabinet member can make decisions related to their portfolio, which aren’t key decisions, up to a value of £500,000. You can find out what decisions have been taken by Cabinet members and officers on our delegated decisions webpage.

Read more about Cabinet meetings.

Scrutiny

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is a group of councillors hold the decision makers to account. They can review decisions and services and can influence future decisions. 

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee has three committees which align with the Council Plan priorities:

  • Sustainable Barnsley workstream
  • Healthy Barnsley workstream
  • Growing Barnsley workstream

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is made up of a number of councillors who are not in the Cabinet, across all the political parties that make up our Full Council. 

The chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is a councillor decided annually by Full Council.

Find out more about our Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Area councils

There are six area councils in Barnsley that make local decisions on area council funding. They are made up of councillors who have been elected in the ward covered by the area.

They use the information that you tell them about where you live to help them set the priorities. They also consider national sources of information, such as the census. They use this information to commission services and provide grants to deliver against these priorities.

You can ask your local councillor for more information about area councils. If you want to find out first-hand, why not go to an area council meeting, or you can read the minutes of the meetings.

Find out more about your area council and ward alliances.

Ward alliances

Ward alliances make decisions on ward alliance funding and priorities for the area. They are made up of local councillors and groups of local people who have put themselves forward to help improve their communities.

You can apply to be part of a ward alliance if you're already involved with a local group or are active in your community.

Each ward alliance develops a community plan which helps them to measure their progress in delivering their priorities. Each has a small budget called the Ward Alliance Fund, which is allocated to organisations working in the area to help deliver on their plan.

Find out more about your area council and ward alliances.

Planning Regulatory Board

The Planning Regulatory Board makes decisions on applications for planning permission and similar issues, as well as public rights of way.

The board is made up of councillors from across the full council.

Find out more about the Planning Regulatory Board.

Statutory Licensing Regulatory Board

The Statutory Licensing Regulatory Board makes decisions on the licensing of premises and people for entertainment and the sale of alcohol.

The board is made up of councillors from across the full council.

Find out more about the Statutory Licensing Regulatory Board.

General Licensing Regulatory Board

The General Licensing Regulatory Board makes decisions on the licensing of taxis (private hire and hackney carriages, drivers and vehicles), amusement venues and other similar types of premises and activities.

The board is made up of councillors from across the full council. 

Find out more about the General Licensing Regulatory Board.

Audit and Governance Committee

The Audit and Governance Committee makes sure that the council is complying with the rules and regulations for governance and finance, including the value for money of council services.

The committee is made up of four councillors from across the full council and five independent people, who are not councillors.

Find out more about the Audit and Governance Committee.

Appeals, Awards and Standards Regulatory Board

The Appeals, Awards and Standards Regulatory Board deals with appeals against council decisions that are not specifically covered by the other boards. It also enforces the code of conduct for councillors and employees. 

The board is made up of councillors from across the full council. 

Find out more about the Appeals, Awards and Standards Regulatory Board.

Health and Wellbeing Board

The Health and Wellbeing Board agrees the health and wellbeing strategy and works with all organisations to join up health and social care for the borough.

The board includes cabinet members, our officers, representatives from South Yorkshire Integrated Care System and other health providers, and the local Health Watch, which represents the interests of patients and service users.

People from other organisations that have an impact on health and wellbeing, such as the district police commander, also attend the meetings.

Find out more about the Health and Wellbeing Board.

How you can get involved

Anybody can attend and view  the council's public meetings. Please find out more about engaging with our public meetings. Members can ask questions which will be considered by Full Council. You can read the questions to Full Council.

The public can also ask questions to be considered by the Health and Wellbeing Board. Read the questions to the Health and Wellbeing Board.

You can find all of our public meetings on our meetings calendar. You can also watch some of the council's meetings on the internet. It will tell you if you can do this on the agenda for each meeting.

You can speak with your local councillor if you wish to raise concerns or issues on items for consideration at meetings. Find out more about Barnsley's councillors.