Skip to content

Responsibilities of local councils

Currently local government in Northern Ireland is made up of 26 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.


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, leisure services 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

New council, new powers and responsibilities

A reform programme is under way which will see 11 new councils take over from the current 26. The new councils will take over on 1 April 2015. Your new council will provide the same services as your existing council, but it will also have a number of new powers and responsibilities.

You can find out more the changes to local councils at the link below.

More useful links