A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.
The county councils created under British rule in 1899 continue to exist in Ireland, although they are now governed under legislation passed by Oireachtas Éireann, principally the Local Government Reform Act 2014.
The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 introduced county councils to Ireland. The administrative and financial business carried by county grand juries and county at large presentment sessions were transferred to the new councils. Principal among these duties were the maintenance of highways and bridges, the upkeep and inspection of lunatic asylums and the appointment of coroners. The new bodies also took over some duties from poor law boards of guardians in relation to diseases of cattle and from the justices of the peace to regulate explosives.
The Irish county councils differed in constitution from those in Great Britain. Most of the council was directly elected: each county was divided by the Local Government Board for Ireland into district electoral divisions, each returning a single councillor for a three-year term. In addition urban districts were to form electoral divisions: depending on population they could return multiple county councillors. The county councils were also to consist of "additional members":
The first county council elections were held on 6 April 1899, and the first business of their inaugural meetings being the appointment of additional members.The triennial elections were postponed in 1914 on the outbreak of World War I.
The Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1919 introduced proportional representation to county councils: all councillors were to be elected by single transferable vote from multi-member electoral areas.There was only one election under the new system, held in January 1920 (in urban areas) and on 2 June 1920 (in rural areas), during the Irish War of Independence.
The Irish Free State inherited the local authorities created by the United Kingdom legislation of 1898 and 1919, and elections were held on 23 June 1925. The first native legislation was the Local Government Act 1925. The act abolished rural district councils (except in County Dublin) and passed their powers to the county councils. At the following election all county councils were to be increased: the number of extra councillors was to be twice the number of abolished rural districts. The act set out the powers and duties of county councils and also gave the Minister for Local Government the power to dissolve councils if he was satisfied that "the duties of a local council are not being duly and effectually discharged". He could order new elections to be held, or transfer the power and properties of the council "to any body or persons or person he shall think fit".The power was widely used by ministers of all parties. For example, Kerry County Council was dissolved from 1930 to 1932, and from 1945 to 1948, with commissioners appointed to perform the council's function.
The number of county councils was increased from 27 to 29 in 1994 when the Local Government (Dublin) Act 1993 split County Dublin into three counties: Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin.
Since 2014 there are 28 county councils in operation, following the merger of North Tipperary and South Tipperary County Councils into a single Tipperary County Council, under the provisions of the Local Government Reform Act 2014.
In Taiwan, a county council is the legislative body of each county. Members of the councils are elected through local elections held every 4 years.
The Outline for Implementing Local Autonomy for Cities and Counties was promulgated in April 1950. County councils were established in 1951.
In 1999 the Local Government Act was enacted. As stipulated in the Act, duties of the county councils include approving the county budget, levying local taxes and enacting local ordinances.
County councils were formed in the late 19th century. In the various constituent countries of the United Kingdom councils had different powers and different memberships. Following local government reforms in the 1970s, county councils no longer exist in Scotland or Northern Ireland. In England they generally form the top level in a two-tier system of administration; in Wales they are unitary authorities.
In England county councils were introduced in 1889, and reformed in 1974. Since the mid-1990s a series of local government reorganisations has reduced the number of county councils as unitary authorities have been established in a number of areas. County councils are very large employers with a great variety of functions including education (schools and youth services), social services, highways, fire and rescue services, libraries, waste disposal, consumer services and town and country planning. Until the 1990s they also ran colleges of further education and the careers services. That decade also saw the privatisation of some traditional services, such as highway maintenance, cleaning and school meals.
County councils were created by the Local Government Act 1888, largely taking over the administrative functions of the unelected county courts of quarter sessions.County councils consisted of councillors, directly elected by the electorate; and county aldermen, chosen by the council itself. There was one county alderman for every three councillors (one for every six in the London County Council). The first elections to the councils were held at various dates in January 1889, and they served as "provisional" or shadow councils until 1 April, when they came into their powers. Elections of all councillors and half of the aldermen took place every three years thereafter. The areas over which the councils had authority were designated as administrative counties. The writ of the county councils did not extend everywhere: large towns and some historic counties corporate were constituted county boroughs by the same act. County borough councils were independent of the council for the county in which they were geographically situated, and exercised the functions of both county and district councils. The new system was a major modernisation, which reflected the increasing range of functions carried out by local government in late Victorian Britain. A major accretion of powers took place when education was added to county council responsibilities in 1902. County councils were responsible for more strategic services in a region, with (from 1894) smaller urban district councils and rural district councils responsible for other activities. The Local Government Act 1929 considerably increased the powers of county councils, who took charge of highways in rural districts.
In 1965 there was a reduction in the number of county councils. The London Government Act 1963 abolished those of London and Middlesex and created the Greater London Council. Greater London was declared to be an "area" and not to lie in any county.In addition two pairs of administrative counties were merged to become Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely and Huntingdon and Peterborough under recommendations made by the Local Government Commission for England. The Local Government Act 1972 completely reorganised local authorities in England and Wales. County boroughs were abolished and the whole of England (apart from Greater London) was placed in a two-tier arrangement with county councils and district councils. In the six largest conurbations metropolitan county councils, with increased powers, were created. The post of county alderman was abolished, and the entire council was thereafter directly elected every four years. In 1986 the six metropolitan county councils were abolished, with their functions transferred to the metropolitan boroughs and joint boards. The Local Government Act 1992 established a new Local Government Commission whose remit was to conduct a review of the structure of local administration, and the introduction of unitary authorities where appropriate. Accordingly, the number of county councils was reduced: Avon, Berkshire, Cleveland, Hereford and Worcester and Humberside were abolished, while Worcestershire County Council was re-established. The reforms somewhat blurred the distinction between county and district council. The Isle of Wight county council became a unitary authority, renamed the "Isle of Wight Council". Conversely, two unitary district councils added the word "county" to their titles to become "Rutland County Council District Council" and "County of Herefordshire District Council".
A further wave of local government reform took place in April 2009 under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007. Following invitations from central government in 2007, a number of county councils and their associated districts examined ways in which local government provision could be rationalised, mainly in the form of abolishing the existing county and district councils and establishing one-tier authorities for all or parts of these existing counties. As a result, the status of some of these (mainly) more rural counties changed. Cornwall, Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire became unitary authorities providing all services. Some of these councils have dropped the word "county" from their titles. Bedfordshire and Cheshire county councils were abolished with more than one unitary council established within the boundaries of the abolished council. Other county councils remained unchanged, particularly in the heavily populated parts of England such as the south-east. Further minor local government reforms took place in 2019–20, which led to Dorset and Buckinghamshire also becoming unitary authorities providing all services.
County councils existed in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1973.
Following partition, six administrative counties remained within the United Kingdom as part of Northern Ireland. Local government came under the control of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, who quickly introduced the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1922, abolishing proportional representation. Electoral districts were redrawn, and a property qualification for voters introduced, ensuring Unionist controlled councils in counties with Nationalist majorities.In 1968 Fermanagh County Council was reconstituted as a unitary authority. County councils were abolished under the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 in 1973. The only local authorities since that date have been district councils.
In Scotland county councils existed from 1890 to 1975. They were created by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 and reconstituted forty years later by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929. County councils were abolished in 1975 when a system of large regional councils was introduced. Regions were themselves abolished in 1996 and replaced by the current unitary council areas.
In Scotland, control of county administration was in the hands of Commissioners of Supply. This was a body of the principal landowners liable to pay land tax, and was unelected. The first elections to Scottish county councils took place in February 1890.Only the councillors for the "landward" part of the county were elected however. The remainder of the council were co-opted by the town councils of the burghs in the county. Scottish county councils also differed from those in England and Wales as they were required to divide their county into districts. A district committee of the county councillors elected for the area were an independent local council for some administrative purposes.
In 1930 the Scottish county councils were completely reconstituted. Their powers were increased in small burghs. On the other hand, large burghs became independent of the county for most purposes. The district committees created in 1890 were abolished and replaced by district councils, partly consisting of county councillors and partly of directly elected district councillors. Two joint county councils were created, for Perthshire and Kinross-shire and Moray and Nairnshire. The county councils also gained the duties of the abolished education authorities.
Since 1996 Wales has been divided into unitary principal areas. Councils were designated by the legislation that created them as either "county councils" or "county borough councils".County and county borough councils have identical powers.
Prior to 1996 local government in Wales was similar to that in England. Thus the county councils introduced in 1889 were identical to their English counterparts. The Local Government Commission for Wales appointed under the Local Government Act 1958 recommended a reduction in the number of county councils in Wales and Monmouthshire from thirteen to seven, but reform did not take place until 1974.
From 1 April 1974 the number of counties and county councils was reduced to eight in number. Like the county councils introduced in England at the same time, the whole council was elected every four years. There was a slightly different division of powers between county and district councils, however. The county and district councils were abolished twenty-two years later, when the present system of principal areas was introduced.
A county council is a type of local government that is responsible for providing services to a specific county or region. It is typically composed of elected officials who are responsible for making decisions about the county's budget, infrastructure, and services. County councils are responsible for providing services such as education, health care, public safety, transportation, and social services. They also have the power to levy taxes and fees to fund these services. County councils are typically responsible for maintaining roads, bridges, and other infrastructure within their county. They also have the power to pass laws and regulations that affect the county. County councils are typically responsible for providing services to their constituents, such as libraries, parks, and other recreational facilities. County councils are also responsible for providing services to the elderly, disabled, and other vulnerable populations. County councils are typically responsible for providing services to the environment, such as water and air quality, and for protecting natural resources. County councils are also responsible for providing services to businesses, such as economic development and job training.
The term county council is sometimes used in English for regional municipal bodies in other countries.
Both Swedish and Norwegian county councils are directly elected by their inhabitants as it is also the case in Romania during local elections. There are some differences between them in responsibilities.
A unitary authority is a local authority responsible for all local government functions within its area or performing additional functions that elsewhere are usually performed by a higher level of sub-national government or the national government.
The districts of England are a level of subnational division of England used for the purposes of local government. As the structure of local government in England is not uniform, there are currently four principal types of district-level subdivision. There are a total of 309 districts made up of 36 metropolitan boroughs, 32 London boroughs, 181 two-tier non-metropolitan districts and 58 unitary authorities, as well as the City of London and Isles of Scilly which are also districts, but do not correspond to any of these categories. Some districts are styled as cities, boroughs or royal boroughs; these are purely honorific titles and do not alter the status of the district or the powers of their councils. All boroughs and cities are led by a mayor who in most cases is a ceremonial figure elected by the district council, but—after local government reform—is occasionally a directly elected mayor who makes most of the policy decisions instead of the council.
County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control, similar to the unitary authorities created since the 1990s. An equivalent term used in Scotland was a county of city. They were abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales, but continue in use for lieutenancy and shrievalty in Northern Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland they remain in existence but have been renamed cities under the provisions of the Local Government Act 2001. The Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 re-introduced the term for certain "principal areas" in Wales. Scotland did not have county boroughs but instead had counties of cities. These were abolished on 16 May 1975. All four Scottish cities of the time—Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, and Glasgow—were included in this category. There was an additional category of large burgh in the Scottish system, which were responsible for all services apart from police, education and fire.
The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland that established a system of local government in Ireland similar to that already created for England, Wales and Scotland by legislation in 1888 and 1889. The Act effectively ended landlord control of local government in Ireland.
In England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland, an urban district was a type of local government district that covered an urbanised area. Urban districts had an elected urban district council (UDC), which shared local government responsibilities with a county council.
Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974, in Northern Ireland from 1840 to 1973 and in the Republic of Ireland from 1840 to 2002. Broadly similar structures existed in Scotland from 1833 to 1975 with the reform of royal burghs and creation of police burghs.
This article is about the government of Birmingham, England.
The Local Government Act 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales on 1 April 1974. It was one of the most significant Acts of Parliament to be passed by the Heath Government of 1970–74.
Non-metropolitan districts, or colloquially "shire districts", are a type of local government district in England. As created, they are sub-divisions of non-metropolitan counties in a two-tier arrangement. Non-metropolitan districts with borough status are known as boroughs, able to appoint a mayor and refer to itself as a borough council.
The Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which amended the Local Government Act 1972 to create the current local government structure in Wales of 22 unitary authority areas, referred to as principal areas in the Act, and abolished the previous two-tier structure of counties and districts. It came into effect on 1 April 1996.
The counties of the United Kingdom are subnational divisions of the United Kingdom, used for the purposes of administrative, geographical and political demarcation. The older term, shire is historically equivalent to county. By the Middle Ages, county had become established as the unit of local government, at least in England. By the early 17th century, all of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland had been separated into counties. In Scotland shire was the only term used until after the Act of Union 1707.
Leicester City Council is a unitary authority responsible for local government in the city of Leicester, England. It consists of 54 councillors, representing 22 wards in the city, overseen by a directly elected mayor. It is currently controlled by the Labour Party and has been led by Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby since his election on 6 May 2011. The main council building is City Hall on Charles Street, but council meetings are held in the 19th-century Town Hall.
The City and County of Swansea Council, or simply Swansea Council, is the local authority for the city and county of Swansea, one of the principal areas of Wales. The principal area also includes rural areas to the north of the built-up area of Swansea and the Gower Peninsula to the west. The council consists of 75 councillors representing 32 electoral wards.
Carmarthenshire County Council is the local authority for the county of Carmarthenshire, Wales. It provides a range of services including education, planning, transport, social services and public safety. The council is one of twenty-two unitary authorities that came into existence on 1 April 1996 under the provisions of the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994. It took over local government functions previously provided by the three district councils of Carmarthen, Dinefwr, and Llanelli, as well as the county-level services in the area from Dyfed County Council, all of which councils were abolished at the same time.
The wards and electoral divisions in the United Kingdom are electoral districts at sub-national level, represented by one or more councillors. The ward is the primary unit of English electoral geography for civil parishes and borough and district councils, the electoral ward is the unit used by Welsh principal councils, while the electoral division is the unit used by English county councils and some unitary authorities. Each ward/division has an average electorate of about 5,500 people, but ward population counts can vary substantially. As of 2021 there are 8,694 electoral wards/divisions in the UK.
Monmouthshire County Council is the governing body for the Monmouthshire principal area – one of the unitary authorities of Wales.
Nottinghamshire County Council is the upper-tier local authority for the non-metropolitan county of Nottinghamshire in England. It consists of 66 county councillors, elected from 56 electoral divisions every four years. The most recent election was held in 2021.
Cumberland County Council was the county council of Cumberland in the North West of England, an elected local government body responsible for most local services in the county. It was established in 1889 as a result of the Local Government Act 1888. Carlisle was initially within its area but became a separate county borough in 1914. In 1974, both authorities were merged along with parts of others into the new Cumbria County Council. In April 2023 local government in Cumbria will be reorganised into two unitary authorities, one of which is to be named Cumberland Council and would include most of the historic county, with the exception of Penrith and the surrounding area.
The Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council was the local authority for the Vale of Glamorgan in South Glamorgan, Wales, created in 1974 and reconstituted in 1996 as the Vale of Glamorgan Council unitary authority. It was a second tier district authority, with South Glamorgan County Council providing county-level services to the area.
Local elections in the United Kingdom took place on 5 May 2022. These included elections for all London borough councils, for all local authorities in Wales and Scotland. Most seats in England were last up for election in 2018 and in Scotland and Wales in 2017. The elections coincided with the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election. In 91 cases, most of them in Wales, council seats were uncontested, each having only one candidate. Three seats in Scotland remained unfilled as no one nominated to fill them.