What is the Council Assembly and what happens at its meetings? The Council Assembly contains all 63 ward councillors that represent the borough of Southwark. Post the 2018 elections, the vast majority of these councillors are from the Labour party. 49 are Labour and 14 are Liberal Democrat. The Council Assembly meets in full four times a year. As with all Southwark Council’s public meetings, the date, time and agenda for these will appear on the council’s meeting calendar. Their meetings usually occur at 7pm at the offices on Tooley Street. At an Assembly meeting, a variety of different events will take place. Click here for an example of a Council Assembly agenda. Since April 2011 there have been themed debates at council meetings. Themed assembly meetings mean that there is more opportunity for residents to get involved and make their voices heard. Both the public and councillors have the opportunity to ask questions, and receive answers to these. For example, someone could ask the council what they are doing to tackle gang crime, and they would be entitled to a written answer from the relevant Cabinet member. At the meeting, the person is then given the chance to ask an additional question on the same issue. Councillors will “move” (introduce) motions that they have written – these are statements of intent that they want the council to approve. After a motion has been moved, a debate will take place, followed by a vote. If the council votes in favour, the motion is carried, and the council is committed to it – if not, it fails, and does not represent a commitment by the council. For example, a councillor could move a motion that commits the council to building new cycling infrastructure in the borough. If the motion carries, the council must act on the commitments detailed in the motion – so would therefore need to start thinking about cycle lanes, bike racks, or whatever else was mentioned. Council Assembly meetings are where party political debates take place, and are the real platform for councillors to show their political colours! Sometimes debates can get heated. As well as questions and motions, Council Assembly is bound by Southwark’s constitution to take certain decisions. These are so important that it is deemed necessary for the whole Assembly to agree on them. These include (but are not limited to) the approval of the council’s budget, capital strategy (where it will spend money on infrastructure), and important policy documents such as the children and young people’s plan. Council Assembly meetings are strictly limited to three hours – 10:00pm is what is called the guillotine. This means, quite simply, that councillors have to stop talking, and the meeting must end.