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Download e-book How Your Local Government Works

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What is local government? Local government touches the lives of everybody, every day. Types of local government Depending on where you live, local government consists of at least one or two tiers of authorities. Two tiers, with responsibilities of local services divided between them: 26 county councils district, borough or city councils One unitary tier providing all services: 56 unitary councils 33 London boroughs 36 metropolitan boroughs Across England, there are also around 9, parish and town councils, 10 National Parks responsible for conservation and promotion of scenic areas, as well as local authorities responsible specifically for policing and fire and rescue services.

Funding of local government Local authorities receive funding from a range of sources, including Government grants, council tax and fees and charges. Spending Round CouncilsCan The LGA highlighted the positive impact of local services and the urgent need for the Government to provide financial certainty for councils ahead of the Spending Round.

Who we are and what we do The LGA is a the national voice of local government, working with councils to support, promote and improve local government. What is local government responsible for?

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Local Government - Local Government

What is the overall political control of councils? Who pays for local government? How much do councils spend? What is the turnover for local government?

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How many people work for local government? Local councils are made up of councillors also called elected members who are voted for by the public in local elections.


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They are supported by permanent council staff called officers. Councillors are elected to represent people in a defined geographical area for a fixed term of four years, unless elected at a by-election in which case the time will be shorter.

Councillors have to balance the needs and interests of residents, voters, political parties and the councils. Councillors decide on the overall direction of policy. Council officers then implement these policy initiatives and are responsible for delivering services on a daily basis. Permanent staff perform many of the duties of the council. Lots of local authorities have a Chief Executive Officer, who oversees the management of the council. Underneath the Chief Executive, there will usually be a number of directorates or departments, e.

In some areas of England, local government is divided between a county council upper tier and a district council lower tier , which are responsible for different services. In other areas, there is a single unitary authority instead. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there are only unitary, single tier councils. England total. According to the Local Government Boundary Commission report from , there were roughly 17, councillors in England.

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The latest figures show 1, councillors in Wales , 1, in Scotland and in Northern Ireland. Demographic data on councillors is hard to find as it is not regularly or officially collected. The structure of local government varies from area to area, and region to region. In most of England, there are two tiers — county and district — with responsibility for services split between the two tiers. County councils cover the entire county area and provide around 80 per cent of the services. Within the county, there are several district councils which cover a smaller area and provide more local services.

However London, other metropolitan areas and some parts of shire England operate under a single-tier council structure. In total there are five possible types of local authority in England. These are:. Since the establishment of Greater Manchester in , groups of councils have formed combined authorities in some areas of England. These combined authorities receive additional powers and funding from central government. They are particularly important for transport and economic policy across the regions in which they are based.

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There are currently 9 combined authorities in England;. In some parts of England, Wales and Scotland there is another layer of local government below these councils called parish England , town England or community Wales and Scotland councils. These are responsible for services such as management of town and village centres, litter, verges, cemeteries, parks, ponds, allotments, war memorials, and community halls.

There are around 10, such councils in England, in Wales and in Scotland. Other municipalities are divided into wards. Depending on the municipality, each ward may have one, two or more representatives on council. Voters in each ward can choose only among the candidates who are running for election in that ward.


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For example, if a municipality has 8 council members and 4 wards, 2 councillors will be elected from each ward. Each voter chooses 2 candidates from among the candidates running in that ward. In each ward, the two candidates with the highest number of votes will serve on municipal council.

Other members of regional council are selected in various ways. Some are elected directly by the voters to sit on regional council. Some are elected to sit on both the regional council and the local municipal council. In some municipalities, members of local municipal councils are appointed by their councils to serve at the regional level.

The head of council of a local municipality is a member of the regional council.


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  5. Where there is only one level of municipal government in an area, it is called a single tier municipality. A county or regional government is a federation of the local municipalities within its boundaries. District is another name that is sometimes used in Ontario. Only the District Municipality of Muskoka provides services on a regional-scale. Areas may use the term district but these are territorial boundaries that do not serve any municipal government purpose.

    Counties, regions and the District of Muskoka are referred to as "upper tier" municipalities. In Northern Ontario, there are cities and towns. Northern Ontario municipalities are all single tier municipalities There are also administrative ways of providing services to huge areas of land that have very few people in what are called "unincorporated" areas of Northern Ontario. District Social Service Administration Boards are a good example through which certain social services are delivered to Northern residents.

    Area Service Boards are another new approach that is possible. They can provide a means to deliver a range of municipal services across a broad geographic area.

    The mindset shift emerging from local government

    In the mid's, expansion of urban areas, changes in responsibilities of local government and provincial government initiatives had led to a massive wave of municipal mergers. The most important changes saw some counties and regional municipalities merge with their constituent local municipalities. As a result, the number of municipalities was reduced by more than 40 per cent between and , from to In January of , that number went to Amalgamations happened in Northern Ontario as well.