Torbay Council

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Torbay Council
Whole council elected every four years
Arms of Torbay Council
Coat of arms
Torbay Council logo
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 last election
May 2019
Council next election
May 2023
SALUS ET FELICITAS (Health and Happiness)
Meeting place
Town Hall at Torquay
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 is unusual in that its executive function is controlled by a directly elected mayor of Torbay, currently Gordon Oliver.

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.

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]

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.

Powers and functions[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]


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 control Years
Liberal Democrats 1997–2000
Conservative 2000–2003
Liberal Democrats 2003–2007
Conservative 2007 – 2015

Elected mayor[edit]

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]


  1. ^ "Committee structure". Torbay Council. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  2. ^ Northamptonshire proposes replacing councils with two unitary authorities The Guardian
  3. ^ a b [1][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. ^ [2][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".
  10. ^ Council, Torbay. "Housing".
  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. ^ [3][dead link]
  15. ^ Council, Torbay (17 June 2019). "Your Councillors".
  16. ^ "Torbay Council". BBC News.
  17. ^ "Torbay". BBC News Online. Retrieved 11 September 2009.
  18. ^ "Torbay mayor and cabinet system scrapped". 8 May 2016 – via
  19. ^ Ayers, John (17 May 2019). "Lib Dems and Independents take control of council". BBC News Online. 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.

External links[edit]