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The structure of local Government in the UK
Britain‘s local government is a system of providing vital public services in a wide range of activities including social welfare, commerce, health, leisure or crime prevention. Local government in the UK comprises 467 major councils and 9.000 town/parish councils and employs one of the largest workforce in the UK.
All local authorities derive their powers from Parliament and the central government. Parliament can expand or abolish any particular authority. But local authorities have a considerable freedom to make arrangements for carrying out their duties. The main policies are decided by the full council, other matters concerning the various services are the responsibility of committees composed of the members of the council. The council can delegate to the committee or officer any functions except those concerned with finance. The public (including the press) is admitted to the council, committee and sub- committee meetings, and has a right of access to agendas, reports and minutes. Local authorities may exclude the public from the meetings and withhold their papers only under the limited circumstances.
Traditionally the most important local area is the country. It is the oldest local unit of government. England has been divided into counties for more than 1.000 years, there are fifty-three counties in England and Wales.
Within the counties the oldest units are the parishes. There are the local communities or villages, which were originally centred on the churches. The parish councils have a significant role in representing the interests of their residents to the larger councils in the area.
The districts are more modern local units of government, they are modern amalgamation of parishes.
In Greater London the local government authorities are the councils of thirty-two London boroughs and the Corporation of the City of London. In Scotland there are nine regions, divided into fifty-three districts. Northern Ireland is administered by twenty-six district councils.