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Responsibilities of local councils

Local government in Northern Ireland is made up of 11 councils. Councils have a range of roles and responsibilities, including providing certain services and representation, from your local sport and leisure centre to collecting your bin.

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.

Areas of responsibility

Local councils are responsible for service areas, including:

  • waste collection and disposal
  • recycling and waste management
  • local planning functions
  • 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, leisure services and recreational facilities
  • parks, open spaces and playgrounds
  • community centres
  • arts, heritage and cultural facilities
  • registration of births, deaths and marriages
  • off-street parking (except park and ride)
  • local economic development

Councils also have a role in the following areas:

  • 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
  • street lighting
  • collection of rates
  • transport

From April 2016, councils will also be responsible for urban regeneration and community development.

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