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How Bradford Council works

About Bradford Council

Bradford Council is a public sector organisation which is responsible for a range of services which benefit people living in the Bradford district.

These services include social care, education, housing, highways, planning, environmental protection, libraries, street cleaning, waste collections and swimming pools.

There are certain services that we have to deliver by law (for example environmental protection) and some that we choose to deliver because they benefit our residents (for example sports centres and swimming pools). We do not deliver all the services ourselves and often commission other organisations to deliver them on our behalf (for example housing).

Bradford Council is a metropolitan council, one of 36 in the country. This term is used to describe a council which serves a large town or city and its surrounding population. The total population of the district the Council serves is approximately 537,200 (ONS, July 2019) and covers an area of approximately 141 square miles. This includes Bradford city centre, the towns of Shipley, Bingley, Keighley and Ilkley and many other communities including Addingham, Baildon, Burley, Cullingworth, Denholme, Eastburn, Eccleshill, Haworth, Menston, Oxenhope, Queensbury, Silsden, Steeton and Thornton.

The services the Council delivers are paid for out of the public purse: through Council tax, business rates and also grants from the Government. We may also attract grants from organisations such as the European Union.


Decisions on how to spend that money, which services to provide, and how to provide them, are made by councillors, also known as Elected Members. We have 90 councillors on the Council – three for every Council ‘ward’ (an area of the district). These councillors are members of the public who put themselves forward for the role and are elected by the people who live in the area they represent.

Councillors are paid an allowance, but are not employed by the Council. They can also claim for out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel, incurred in the course of their duties.

Councillors may belong to a political party, or they may stand as an independent councillor. Those who belong to a political party form ‘groups’ on the Council.

All the councillors vote on who should be the Leader of the Council. 

Councillor surgeries

Councillor surgeries are an opportunity for you to meet your local councillor and discuss issues in your neighbourhood, or problems you may have with Council services.

There are three councillors in each ward. Councillors are local politicians, who are elected by you to represent your community.

Surgeries are held regularly within your community, for example at your local community centre or church hall.

You do not need an appointment, just turn up.

Details of forthcoming surgeries are promoted in the local press, and also on this website.

You can also contact your local ward councillor by telephone or email at any time.

The Leader of the Council

The Leader of the Council is Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, who is the leader of the Labour group on the Council. She also represents the Windhill and Wrose ward.

The Executive

The Leader appoints an Executive – a small group of councillors who take on responsibility for different areas of the Council (this is called a ‘portfolio’) and make the key policy decisions. The Executive does not have to be composed of politicians belonging to the same political group, but often is.

The current portfolios are:

  • Children and Families
  • Corporate
  • Education, Employment and Skills
  • Healthy People and Places
  • Neighbourhoods and Community Safety
  • Regeneration, Planning and Transport

Political control and composition of the Council

The Labour Group has political control of the Council.

More details are available on the Political Composition page.


Other panels are also formed – for example area planning panels, licensing and area committees which have a mix of councillors from all groups. Four scrutiny committees (for Children’s Services, Corporate, Health and Social Care, and Regeneration and Environment) are made up of councillors from different parties who check that the decisions made by the Executive and the different panels are fair. If necessary, they will challenge the decisions made and ask for more evidence. They can also refer decisions to Full Council.

The Council’s major policies, and setting the budget for services, are decided by a vote of the Full Council with all 90 councillors being involved in the decision.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford

Every year Full Council also selects one councillor as Lord Mayor for the district. This is a non-political, civic role and that councillor works as an ambassador for the district for that year. They will attend community events and represent the Council at civic events.

A Deputy Lord Mayor is also selected each year.

The Lord Mayor of Bradford for 2024-2025 is Councillor Beverley Mullaney, who is also a ward councillor for Thornton and Allerton.

The Deputy Lord Mayor is Councillor Mohammed Shafiq, who is also a ward councillor for Bradford Moor.

Council employees

The Council employs officers who are paid to implement the decisions made by the councillors and to deliver frontline services.

The most senior Council officer is the Chief Executive. The Chief Executive is supported by the Corporate Management Team, comprising four strategic directors, the Director of Finance, the City Solicitor and the Director of Public Health.

The Council employs approximately 8,500 people (excluding schools) including social workers, litter pickers, library staff, lawyers and town planners. The size and scale of Bradford Council makes it one of the biggest employers in the district.