Torbay Council

Last updated

Torbay Council
Whole council elected every four years
Coat of arms of Torbay Borough Council.jpg
Coat of arms
Logo of Torbay Council.jpg
Council logo
Founded1 April 1974
Preceded byTorbay Borough Council (of the County Borough of Torbay)
Leader of the Council
Steve Darling, Liberal Democrats
since May 2019
Chief executive
Steve Parrock
Seats36 councillors
Council political groups
     Conservative (15)
     Liberal Democrats (13)
     Independent (8)
Council committees
Joint committees
Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority
Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
Length of term
4 years
Council voting system
Council last election
Council next election
May 2023
SALUS ET FELICITAS (Health and Happiness)
Meeting place
Town Hall, Castle Circus, Torquay
Constitution, 30 July 2013

Torbay Council is the local authority of Torbay in Devon, England. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. It provides a full range of local government services including Council Tax billing, libraries, social services, processing planning applications, waste collection and disposal, and it is a local education authority. The council appoints members to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority and the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel. Torbay is divided into 15 wards, electing 36 councillors. The whole council is elected every four years with the last election taking place on 7 May 2015 and the next election scheduled for 2019. The council was created by the Local Government Act 1972 and replaced the Torbay Borough Council of the County Borough of Torbay. Since 1974 Torbay has held borough status which entitles the council to be known as Torbay Borough Council, although it has not used this name since becoming a unitary authority. The council no longer has a directly elected mayor of Torbay, the post was abolished in 2019, after a referendum held in May 2016.

Torbay Borough and unitary authority in England

Torbay is a borough in Devon, England, administered by the unitary authority of Torbay Council. It consists of 62.87 square kilometres (24.27 sq mi) of land, spanning the towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, located around an east-facing natural harbour on the English Channel. A popular tourist destination with a tight conurbation of resort towns, Torbay's sandy beaches, mild climate and recreational and leisure attractions have given rise to the nickname of the English Riviera.

Unitary authorities of England top and only level of local government in some parts of England

Unitary authorities of England are local authorities that are responsible for the provision of all local government services within a district. They are constituted under the Local Government Act 1992, which amended the Local Government Act 1972 to allow the existence of counties that do not have multiple districts. They typically allow large towns to have separate local authorities from the less urbanised parts of their counties and provide a single authority for small counties where division into districts would be impractical. Unitary authorities do not cover all of England. Most were established during the 1990s and a further tranche were created in 2009. Unitary authorities have the powers and functions that are elsewhere separately administered by councils of non-metropolitan counties and the non-metropolitan districts within them.

Council Tax

Council Tax is a local taxation system used in England, Scotland and Wales. It is a tax on domestic property which was introduced in 1993 by the Local Government Finance Act 1992, replacing the short lived Community Charge, which in turn replaced the domestic rates. Each property is assigned one of eight bands in England and Scotland, or nine bands in Wales, based on property value, and the tax is set as a fixed amount for each band. The more valuable the property, the higher the tax, except for properties valued above £320,000. Some property is exempt from the tax, and some people are exempt from the tax, while some get a discount.


Expenditure for the year 2018/19 is budgeted to be £112 million. Torbay is halting all non-urgent expenditure due to a projected overspend of £2.8 million in 2018. [2]


The council was formed by the Local Government Act 1972 as the Torbay District Council. It replaced the existing Torbay Borough Council that was the local authority of the County Borough of Torbay and had been created in 1968. [3] This earlier authority was the result of the amalgamation of Brixham Urban District Council, Paignton Urban District Council and Torquay Borough Council.

The current local authority was first elected in 1973, a year before formally coming into its powers and prior to the creation of the District of Torbay on 1 April 1974. The council gained borough status, entitling it to be known as Torbay Borough Council and to annually appoint a Mayor of Torbay.

1973 United Kingdom local elections

The first elections to the new local authorities established by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales and the new Northern Ireland district councils created by the Local Government Act 1972 took place in 1973. Elections to the existing Greater London Council also took place.

Borough status in the United Kingdom is granted by royal charter to local government districts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The status is purely honorary, and does not give any additional powers to the council or inhabitants of the district. In Scotland, similarly chartered communities were known as royal burghs, although the status is no longer granted.

It was envisaged through the Local Government Act 1972 that Torbay as a non-metropolitan district council would share power with the Devon County Council. This arrangement lasted until 1998 when the district council gained responsibility for services that had been provided within Torbay by the county council. Since gaining county council functions the council has gone by the name Torbay Council. [3]

Local Government Act 1972 United Kingdom legislation

The Local Government Act 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales on 1 April 1974.

Devon County Council British administrative authority

Devon County Council is the county council administering the English county of Devon. Based in the city of Exeter, the council covers the non-metropolitan county area of Devon. Members of the council (councillors) are elected every four years to represent the electorate of each county division, almost all being nominated by the major national political parties.

On 14 July 2005 Torbay held a referendum to decide on the executive arrangements of the borough. The result was in favour of the mayor and cabinet model, [4] which is unusual in the English local government system. The first directly elected mayor of Torbay was elected on 20 October 2005. [5] The previously existing civic Mayor of Torbay role was renamed 'Chairman of the Council'. [6] Following a further referendum in 2016, the elected mayoralty was abolished in May 2019, and the council returned to the leader and cabinet system.

In England, local authorities are required to adopt one of three types of executive arrangements, which govern how decisions will be made within the council. Before the adoption of the Localism Act 2011 there were two principal modes of executive arrangement. They are the "leader and cabinet" and "elected mayor and cabinet" models. A third option "elected mayor and council manager" was withdrawn in 2007. Since 2012, principal authorities have been allowed to return to the "Committee system".

Powers and functions

The local authority derives its powers and functions from the Local Government Act 1972 and subsequent legislation. For the purposes of local government, Torbay is within a non-metropolitan area of England. As a unitary authority, Torbay Council has the powers and functions of both a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. In its capacity as a district council it is a billing authority collecting Council Tax and business rates, it processes local planning applications, it is responsible for housing, waste collection and environmental health. In its capacity as a county council it is a local education authority, responsible for social services, libraries and waste disposal.


The Torbay Health and Wellbeing Board is made up of representatives from Torbay Council and other local healthcare organisations. [7]

Joint committees

The police and fire services and the local enterprise partnership cover a wide area, with a number of constituent councils. Torbay Council appoints two members to the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority [8] and appoints one member to the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel. [9] The mayor represents the council on the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.


In February 2001 the council transferred its council housing stock of approximately 3,000 homes to Sanctuary Housing. [10]


Expenditure for the year 2018/2019 is budgeted to be £112 million, down from £127 million in 2013/14. 59% is funded by Council Tax (from 41% in 2013/14), 1% from grants (35% in 2013/14), 41% from business rates (22% in 2013/14 and nil from previous surplus (2% in 2013/14). [11] [12] [13]

Torbay Council is the billing authority for Council Tax, and collects a precepts on behalf of Brixham Town Council, the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner and the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority. [14]

Political control


Councillors are elected from 15 wards. There are six 3-member wards and nine 2-member wards, giving at total of 36 councillors. [15]

The councillor allocations are Berry Head-with-Furzeham (3 councillors), Blatchcombe (3 councillors), Churston Ferrers-with-Galmpton (2 councillors), Clifton-with-Maidenway (2 councillors), Cockington-with-Chelston (3 councillors), Ellacombe (2 councillors), Goodrington-with-Roselands (2 councillors), Preston (3 councillors), Roundham-with-Hyde (2 councillors), St Marychurch (3 councillors), St. Mary's-with-Summercombe (2 councillors), Shiphay-with-The Willows (2 councillors), Tormohun (3 councillors), Watcombe (2 councillors) and Wellswood (2 councillors).

Following the 2019 election and subsequent defectionsthe composition of the council is as follows:

Party [16] Seats
Conservative 15
Liberal Democrat 13
Independent 8

Political control of the council has been held by the following parties: [17]

Party in controlYears
Liberal Democrats 1997–2000
Conservative 2000–2003
Liberal Democrats 2003–2007
Conservative 2007–2015
Liberal Democrats & Independents Current

Elected mayor

From October 2005 to May 2015 the executive mayor was elected separately. The post was abolished in a referendum held in May 2016, meaning that no future elections to the post will be held. The last incumbent was Gordon Oliver of the Conservative Party, who served until the role was replaced by a leader and cabinet system in May 2019. [18] Following the 2019 election, Liberal Democrats and Independents agreed to take control with a cabinet of four Liberal Democrats and three Independents. [19] [20]

Related Research Articles

Counties of England Englands administrative, geographical and political demarcation

The counties of England are areas used for different purposes, which include administrative, geographical, cultural and political demarcation. The term 'county' is defined in several manners and can apply to similar or the same areas used by each of these demarcation structures. These different types of county each have a more formal name but are commonly referred to just as 'counties'. The current arrangement is the result of incremental reform.

The pattern of local government in England is complex, with the distribution of functions varying according to the local arrangements.

Non-metropolitan county county-level entity in England that is not a metropolitan county

A non-metropolitan county, or colloquially, shire county, is a county-level entity in England that is not a metropolitan county. The counties typically have populations of 300,000 to 1.4 million. The term shire county is, however, an unofficial usage. Many of the non-metropolitan counties bear historic names and most end in the suffix "-shire" such as Wiltshire or Staffordshire. Of the remainder, some counties had the -shire ending and have lost it over time; such as Devon and Somerset. "Shire county" is, strictly, a dual-language tautology since the French-derived "county" means the same as the older Anglo-Saxon word "shire".

Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England

Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties are one of the four levels of subdivisions of England used for the purposes of local government outside Greater London and the Isles of Scilly. As originally constituted, the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties each consisted of multiple districts, had a county council and were also the counties for the purposes of Lieutenancies. Later changes in legislation during the 1980s and 1990s have allowed counties without county councils and 'unitary authority' counties of a single district. Counties for the purposes of Lieutenancies are now defined separately, based on the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties.

Torbay is a unitary authority in Devon, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district. Since 2005 it has also had a directly elected mayor.

Directly elected mayors in England and Wales

Directly elected mayors in England and Wales are local government executive leaders who have been directly elected by the people who live in a local authority area. The first such political post was the Mayor of London, created as the executive of the Greater London Authority in 2000 as part of a reform of the local government of Greater London. Since the Local Government Act 2000, all of the several hundred principal local councils in England and Wales are required to review their executive arrangements.

Bath and North East Somerset Council local council for the district of Bath and North East Somerset

Bath and North East Somerset Council is the local council for the district of Bath and North East Somerset in Somerset, England.

Somerset County Council British administrative authority

Somerset County Council is the county council of Somerset in the South West of England, an elected local government authority responsible for the most significant local government services in most of the county. Somerset County Council plans drastic cuts to services because the government has cut funding and the council cannot balance its books.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is the local authority of Stoke-on-Trent, a unitary authority in the West Midlands region. As a unitary authority it has the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. As such, it is administratively separate from the rest of Staffordshire.

2009 structural changes to local government in England 2009 changes to the structure of state administration on a local level in England

Structural changes to local government in England were effected on 1 April 2009, whereby a number of new unitary authorities were created in parts of the country which previously operated a 'two-tier' system of counties and districts. In five shire counties the functions of the county and district councils were combined into a single authority; and in two counties the powers of the county council were absorbed into a significantly reduced number of districts.

2009 United Kingdom local elections

The 2009 United Kingdom local elections were elections held to all 27 County Councils, three existing Unitary Authorities and five new Unitary Authorities, all in England, on 4 June 2009. The elections were due to be held on 7 May 2009, but were delayed in order to coincide with elections to the European Parliament.

2010 United Kingdom local elections

The 2010 United Kingdom local elections were held on Thursday 6 May 2010, when the 2010 general election also took place. Direct elections were held to all 32 London boroughs, all 36 metropolitan boroughs, 76 second-tier district authorities, 20 unitary authorities and various Mayoral posts, all in England. For those authorities elected "all out" these were the first elections since 2006. The elections that were due to be held in Exeter and Norwich were cancelled due to structural changes. The results provided some comfort to the Labour Party, losing the general election on the same day, as it was the first time Conservative councillor numbers declined since 1996.

This page documents political party strengths in the United Kingdom's principal local authorities. The last major change to council compositions was the 2 May 2019 local elections, but changes in party representation arise frequently due to resignations, deaths, by-elections, co-options and changes of affiliation.

Plymouth City Council

Plymouth City Council is the unitary authority for Plymouth, Devon. It has traditionally been controlled by Labour or the Conservatives, with Liberal Democrats rarely winning seats.

Local government in Northampton

Northampton Borough Council is the borough council and non-metropolitan district responsible for local government in the large town of Northampton in England. The leader and cabinet model of decision-making has been adopted by the council. It consists of 45 councillors, representing 33 wards in the town, overseen by a mayor, leader and cabinet. It is currently controlled by the Conservative Party and is currently led by Jonathan Nunn. The main council building is Northampton Guildhall.

2015 United Kingdom local elections

The 2015 United Kingdom local elections were held on Thursday 7 May 2015, the same day as the general election for the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

2019 United Kingdom local elections Elections held to appoint local government representatives in the UK.

Local elections in parts of the United Kingdom were held on Thursday 2 May 2019, with 248 English local councils, six directly elected mayors in England, and all 11 local councils in Northern Ireland being contested.


  1. "Committee structure". Torbay Council. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  2. Northamptonshire proposes replacing councils with two unitary authorities The Guardian
  3. 1 2 [ dead link ]
  4. "Elected Mayor System of Governance" (PDF). Torbay Council. 21 July 2005. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  5. "Result". Torbay Council. 21 October 2005. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  6. A Review of Members’ Allowances For Torbay Council (2005), Independent Remuneration Panel
  7. [ dead link ]
  8. "Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority".
  9. Council, Torbay (17 June 2019). "Outside bodies – Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel". Government of the United Kingdom.
  10. Council, Torbay. "Housing". Government of the United Kingdom.
  11. "Budget Proposals 2018/19" (PDF). Torbay Council. January 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 May 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  12. "Minutes of the Adjourned Council – 8 February 2018" (PDF). Torbay Council. 8 February 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 May 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  13. "Financing of Expenditure – Summary 2013/14" (PDF). Torbay Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  14. [ dead link ]
  15. Council, Torbay (17 June 2019). "Your Councillors". Government of the United Kingdom.
  16. "Torbay Council". BBC News.
  17. "Torbay". BBC News . Retrieved 11 September 2009.
  18. "Torbay mayor and cabinet system scrapped". BBC. 8 May 2016.
  19. Ayers, John (17 May 2019). "Lib Dems and Independents take control of council". BBC News. Archived from the original on 17 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
  20. Henderson, Guy (17 May 2019). "Lib Dems and Independents sign 'new era' deal to run Torbay Council". Devon Live. Archived from the original on 17 May 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2019.