"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 the Mayor of Essen 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.