Torbay Council

Torbay Council
Executive mayor elected every four years
Whole council elected every four years

Coat of arms

Council logo
Houses Unicameral
Term limits
Founded 1 April 1974
Preceded by Torbay Borough Council (of the County Borough of Torbay)
New session started
14 May 2013 (Municipal year 2013/2014)
Gordon Oliver, Conservative
Since 5 May 2011
Julien Parrott
Since 14 May 2013
Seats 1 executive mayor
36 councillors
Council political groups
 Conservative (24)
 Liberal Democrat (8)
 Non-Coalition Group (4)
 Labour (0)
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
24 / 36
8 / 36
3 / 36
0 / 36
1 / 36
Supplementary vote
Council last election
5 May 2011
Mayor last election
5 May 2011
Council next election
Mayor next election
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 5 May 2011 and the next election scheduled for 2015. 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 is unusual in that its executive function is controlled by a directly elected mayor of Torbay, currently Gordon Oliver. Expenditure for the year 2013/2014 is budgeted to be £127 million.


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.[2] 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.

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.[2]

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,[3] which is unusual in the English local government system. The first directly elected mayor of Torbay was elected on 20 October 2005.[4] The previously existing civic Mayor of Torbay role was renamed 'Chairman of the Council'.[5]

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.[6]

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[7] and appoints one member to the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel.[8] 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.[9]


Expenditure for the year 2013/2014 is budgeted to be £127 million. 41% is funded by Council Tax, 35% from grants, 22% from business rates and 2% from previous surplus.[10]

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.[11]

Political control

Further information: Torbay local elections


Councillors are elected from 15 wards. There are six 3-member wards and nine 2-member wards, giving at total of 36 councillors.[12]

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).

Since the last election in 2011 the councillors represent the following parties:

Party[13] Seats
Conservative 24
Liberal Democrat 8
Independent 3[14]
Labour 0

Political control of the council has been held by the following parties:[15]

Party in control Years
Liberal Democrats 1997–2000
Conservative 2000–2003
Liberal Democrats 2003–2007
Conservative 2007 – present

Elected mayor

Since October 2005 the executive mayor has been elected separately. The incumbent is Gordon Oliver of the Conservative Party.


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