What is the cabinet?
The cabinet is the council's main decision-making body. It recommends a budget to the council each year following wide consultation with partner organisations and the South Tyneside community. Once the council has approved that budget the cabinet is left to get on with making most of the major decisions on behalf of the council for that year.
When making any decisions, the cabinet must stay within the approved budget and policy framework. This ensures that the council's efforts are channelled towards achieving the priorities that have been agreed with our partners and the community we are here to serve.
There are 9 councillors on the cabinet, all of whom belong to the majority party on the council (Labour). They are selected at the annual meeting of the council each May. The Leader of the Council and the Deputy Leader, who are also selected at the annual meeting of the council, act as chairman and vice-chairman of the cabinet and they each have certain "lead responsibilities". The Leader allocates "lead responsibility" for a particular area of the council's work to each of the other seven councillors on the cabinet. These areas of work are referred to as lead member portfolios.
There are scheduled meetings of the cabinet throughout the municipal year. These meetings are scheduled to take place monthly on Wednesdays, starting at 4pm. Meetings of the cabinet take place in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall, South Shields and are open to the public to attend.
Spare copies of the agenda papers for cabinet meetings are made available in the Council Chamber public gallery for members of the public to use and follow the meeting. However, members of the public are not allowed to participate directly in the cabinet meeting itself.
Although the cabinet makes nearly all of its decisions in public, there a few instances where, because of the confidential nature of the agenda item being discussed, the press and public will be excluded from the meeting. The law allows the cabinet to do this when certain specified categories of information are being discussed. If there are any such matters to be discussed they will be indicated on the agenda. Such items are always placed at the end of the agenda so that all of the public items can be dealt with first.
Most of the business at cabinet meetings is done with the aid of printed reports, which form part of the agenda papers. These are usually printed and available for public inspection 5 clear days before a meeting takes place. However, there are a few occasions when a report has to be submitted as "urgent business", in which case this 5-day rule will not apply.