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What is…South Tyneside Council?

In this series, we're going to be looking at South Tyneside Council - what it is, how it works, how it's funded and so on. This edition: the structure of STC

The Council is responsible for approving the Council budget and a series of further high-level policies...[t]hese approvals are only given following wide consultation with partner organisations and the South Tyneside community.

South Tyneside Council (STC) operates a Leader and Cabinet model.

Introduced by the Local Government Act 2000, it's the most common form of governance. Essentially this works in the same way as the Prime Minister and cabinet but on a local scale - the political party with the most councillors forms the cabinet with the Council Leader appointing his/her own cabinet members from his/her own elected councillors. See the make up of the current cabinet here

While the full council (a formal meeting which all elected members attend) is responsible for all decisions, in reality, the cabinet makes most of the major decisions although if it wishes to make a decision which is outside the budget or policy framework, then it must be referred to the full council to decide. Each cabinet member holds a separate portfolio but is advised and supported by panels, committees and departments made up of smaller groups of elected councillors and unelected paid staff known as ‘council officers’.

STC is structured into six departments

Adult Social Services and Commissioning: this is the support provided to older people including nursing, at-home, residential, day care and meals. It also covers services for people with physical and/or learning disability or mental health needs. Asylum seeker services also fall under this department.

Children's Services: under the Children’s Act 1989 (updated 2004), local authorities have a legal duty to the children in their area. This covers schools, pre and post-school education, supporting and protecting vulnerable children, including welfare, fostering and adoption and youth justice (secure accommodation and youth offender teams).

Public Health: the Public Health department covers all the systems put in place to prevent disease, protect the safety and improve the health of the local community by promoting health care equity, quality and accessibility.

Regeneration and Environment: planning policy (planning, building and development control), housing strategy, economic and community development and investment, waste collection and recycling and traffic management and public transport are all managed by this department.

Business and Resources: this department is responsible for HR and pensions and also council assets such as museums, libraries, leisure facilities and tourism.

Governance and Corporate Affairs: this department ensures that STC follows the processes, regulations and legislation by which they are directed and controlled. It covers the areas of environmental awareness, ethical behaviour, corporate strategy and risk management to ensure accountability, transparency, fairness, and responsibility.