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Council of the City of Essen

"Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats!" The session bell rings out. "I hereby declare today's session of the Council to be open. Before we start with the agenda ... "

This is what it sounds like on every 4th Wednesday in the month, at 3.00 p.m., when Mayor Reinhard Paß welcomes the members of Essen City Council and attending citizens at the start of the Council session.

Whether the topics are the charges for waste disposal services or parking and traffic concepts: what the Council decides frequently has a very definite significance for life and work in our city.

The Council consists of 82 members from 9 parties elected by the citizens. They bear the designation "Ratsfrau" or "Ratsherr". The Council is chaired by the Mayor who is also the highest representative of the city and head of the administration.

Although the Council in many ways works in a fashion similar to parliamentary procedures, in a strict legal sense it is not a parliament but the highest administrative body of local government. It is the local government centre-piece in the self-administration of the municipalities.

How it works

The Council debates and makes decisions in all important matters of local government. It does this either on the basis of a proposition by the administration or a motion submitted by the political party groups or other groups on the Council, as well as on the basis of recommendations given by the specialist committees. If important city district matters are involved, Council must hear the district representations before coming to a decision.

The Council must follow exact rules and procedures that are designed to ensure that its decisions are arrived at in a democratic, fair, and transparent fashion. These rules and procedures are laid down in the "Gemeindeordnung NRW" and in specific rules of procedure and business.

Public

sessions are public. Interested citizens may follow the debates in the Council Chamber from the public gallery.

The press also observes events from their press table in the Council Chamber. The Essen newspapers, Radio Essen, and WDR, the regional TV channel, regularly report on the most important results of the sessions.

Some very few matters only where confidential data may be debated are dealt with in the non-public part at the end of a session. The agenda specifies which items are to be debated in public and which are to be treated on a non-public basis.

The same rules also apply to the Council committees. The session dates, locations, and agenda are publicly announced one week in advance. The written papers for the public part are made available to the press. These can also be inspected by interested citizens.

Distribution of seats

Based on the results of the last local elections on 30 September 2009.
Distribution of seats