Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils: your guide

From types of councils to council cabinets. This is your guide to Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils.

Shirehall Shrewsbury - Image Shropshire Council
Shirehall Shrewsbury – Photo: Shropshire Council

Within Parliament, the House of Commons has 650 elected MPs and five are from Shropshire. They are all Conservative MPs. We also have a Conservative national government.

But government does not stop at the national level. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have devolved governments/executives with elected parliaments/assemblies.

In Shropshire, parish and town councils sit on the bottom rung of the ladder. Traditionally, county and district councils sit above parish and town councils, but the story is slightly different in Shropshire.

In the 1990s, county and district councils began to be ‘merged’ together to form unitary authorities. In forming a unitary authority, a county council would absorb the powers of a district council or vice-versa. This structural change would effectively turn two tiers of government into one, as can be seen in the simplified diagrams below:

And this is what happened in Shropshire. The unitary authority of Telford & Wrekin Council was formed in 1998 and the unitary authority of Shropshire Council was formed in 2009. You might still come across some of the names of Shropshire’s old county and district councils on bins and signs.

Powers:

Unitary authorities have the wide-ranging powers of both county and district councils.

According to gov.uk, county councils are responsible for services like: education, transport, planning, fire and public safety, social care, libraries, waste management and trading standards. In addition, district councils are usually responsible for services like: rubbish collection, recycling, Council Tax collections, housing and planning collections. It should be noted that these lists are not exhaustive.

In addition, for 2020/21, both Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Council report that they are responsible for the spending of over £100 million each.

But who actually exercises these powers?

People:

Led by a Chief Executive, the vast majority of people involved in each council are non-elected staff (who are also sometimes called officers). Shropshire Council is currently in the search for its next Chief Executive, while Telford & Wrekin Council’s Chief Executive is David Sidaway.

But those who make the most important decisions, delegate other powers to the non-elected staff and spend a lot of time discussing and approving reports are councillors. Shropshire Council has 74 councillors and Telford & Wrekin Council has 54 councillors.

The majority of Shropshire Council’s councillors are from the Conservative party, while the majority of Telford & Wrekin Council’s councillors are from the Labour party. The current makeup of each full council by political party can be seen in the diagrams below:

Decision making:

Every councillor will be invited to vote on some decisions. Meetings where this happens are often referred to as full council meetings, as they involve the full council.

However, a cabinet of councillors are responsible for most day-to-day decisions. These decisions must fall within the council’s policy framework and budget, as decided by the full council.

Both cabinets are led by a Leader. This is Councillor Peter Nutting for Shropshire Council and Councillor Shaun Davies for Telford & Wrekin Council. The council Leader is appointed by the full council.

In addition to the Leader, each cabinet also has a Deputy Leader and eight other Portfolio Holders/Cabinet Members. Each has responsibility for certain areas and is appointed by the Leader. Shropshire Council seemingly also has Deputy Portfolio Holders, working underneath Portfolio Holders with responsibility for more specific areas, and who are not part of the cabinet. Below is an overview of who is in each cabinet:

Elections:

Councillors are democratically elected to their role by a small local population.

Shropshire is split into 93 geographical divisions and wards. The area that Shropshire Council covers is split into 63 divisions and the area that Telford & Wrekin Council covers is split into 30 wards. Most of these divisions and wards only have one Councillor representing them, but some have two or even three.

Councillor elections take place every four years, with extra elections, by-elections, taking place when it is necessary to elect a new councillor, for example, in the case of the death or resignation of a sitting councillor. The next Councillor election to Shropshire Council is next year, in 2021, and, to Telford & Wrekin Council, in 2023.

Find out more about local councillors

You can find out more about who your Councillor is (or Councillors are) at: Shropshire Council and Telford and Wrekin Council.

Contacting the council

Shropshire Council contact details are available here:
https://www.shropshire.gov.uk/customer-services/how-to-contact-us/

Telford and Wrekin Council contact details are available here:
https://www.telford.gov.uk/contact

Rowan Hall
Rowan contributes articles to Shropshire Live. A Law undergraduate who lives in the county. He is currently studying Global Law at Queen Mary University of London and has a particular interest in writing about local government.
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