There are just over 20,000 councillors across England, Scotland and Wales and, in 2016, some 85 per cent of them come from one of the three main, UK-wide national political parties: Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat. There are also around 460 councillors in Northern Ireland. There are however, a large array of councillors, across the mainland UK, who are not members of one of the three main British parties and they have varying levels of success in fighting and winning council seats. The figures for the number of councillors by political affiliation are shown in table 4 below by the countries of the British State. Local councils are politically representative and democratically elected bodies that play a vital role in ensuring the provision of a wide range of public services. The chapter will explore the tensions that exist between local government as a political institution and a local authority as a body that manages and administers local services. It will concentrate more closely on the political role of local government, because given the importance of public services it is easy to forget that councils are elected bodies with their own political and policy agenda. The politics of local government often become submerged under discussions about running schools, providing social care, the lighting, repairing and sweeping of the streets and the emptying of dustbins (the latter is an issue in which even secretaries of state in the cabinet will become involved). These are vital public services, of course, but the chapter, will concentrate on the politics of local government and the role councillors play as elected representatives.
Citation : Copus, C. (2018) Local Government. In: Jones, B., Norton, P. and Daddow, O. (eds.), Politics UK, ninth edition, Abingdon: Routledge, pp.484-510
ISBN : 9781138685086
Research Group : Local Governance Research Unit
Research Institute : Local Governance Research Centre (LGRC)
Peer Reviewed : Yes