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Responsibilities of local councils

There are 26 councils in Northern Ireland. Councils have a range of roles and responsibilities, including providing certain services and representation.

Main functions of local councils in Northern Ireland

The main functions of local councils in Northern Ireland are:

Direct service provision

Each council is responsible for providing a variety of services in its own area.


Councillors are appointed to represent their councils, or elected members in general, on a number of public bodies such as Education and Library Boards, Health and Social Services and Road Safety Committees.


Consultative functions allow councils to represent the views of their population on the way in which regional services are operated throughout each district. This consultative role covers functions such as: planning, water, roads and conservation.

Areas of responsibility

Local councils are responsible for service areas, including:

  • waste collection and disposal
  • recycling and waste management
  • civic amenity provision
  • grounds maintenance
  • street cleaning
  • cemeteries
  • public conveniences
  • food safety
  • health and safety
  • environmental protection
  • environmental improvement
  • estates management - building design and maintenance
  • building control-inspection and regulation of new buildings
  • dog control
  • enforcement byelaws such as those around litter
  • sports and leisure services
  • sports and recreational facilities
  • parks, open spaces and playgrounds
  • community centres
  • arts, heritage and cultural facilities
  • registration of births, deaths and marriages

Councils also have a role in the following areas:

  • economic development
  • community development
  • community safety
  • sports development
  • summer schemes
  • tourism

Councils are currently not responsible for the following areas:

  • education
  • personal social services
  • roads
  • public housing
  • fire service
  • police service
  • trading standards
  • drainage water
  • sewerage
  • libraries
  • planning
  • street lighting
  • collection of rates
  • transport

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