A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.
The county councils created under British rule in 1899 continue to exist in Ireland, although they are now governed under legislation passed by Oireachtas Éireann, principally the Local Government Act 2001.
The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 introduced county councils to Ireland. The administrative and financial business carried by county grand juries and county at large presentment sessions were transferred to the new councils. Principal among these duties were the maintenance of highways and bridges, the upkeep and inspection of lunatic asylums and the appointment of coroners. The new bodies also took over some duties from poor law boards of guardians in relation to diseases of cattle and from the justices of the peace to regulate explosives.
The Irish county councils differed in constitution from those in Great Britain. Most of the council was directly elected: each county was divided by the Local Government Board for Ireland into electoral divisions, each returning a single councillor for a three-year term. In addition urban districts were to form electoral divisions: depending on population they could return multiple county councillors. The county councils were also to consist of "additional members":
The first county council elections were held on 6 April 1899, and the first business of their inaugural meetings being the appointment of additional members. The triennial elections were postponed in 1914 on the outbreak of World War I.
The Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1919 introduced proportional representation to county councils: all councillors were to be elected by single transferable vote from multi-member electoral areas. There was only one election under the new system, held in January 1920 (in urban areas) and on 2 June 1920 (in rural areas), during the Irish War of Independence.
The Irish Free State inherited the local authorities created by the United Kingdom legislation of 1898 and 1919, and elections were held on 23 June 1925. The first native legislation was the Local Government Act 1925. The act abolished rural district councils (except in County Dublin) and passed their powers to the county councils. At the following election all county councils were to be increased: the number of extra councillors was to be twice the number of abolished rural districts. The act set out the powers and duties of county councils and also gave the Minister for Local Government the power to dissolve councils if he was satisfied that "the duties of a local council are not being duly and effectually discharged". He could order new elections to be held, or transfer the power and properties of the council "to any body or persons or person he shall think fit". The power was widely used by ministers of all parties. For example, Kerry County Council was dissolved from 1930 to 1932, and from 1945 to 1948, with commissioners appointed to perform the council's function.
The number of county councils was increased from twenty-seven to twenty-nine in 1994 when the Local Government (Dublin) Act 1993 split County Dublin into three counties: Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Fingal and South Dublin.
In the Republic of China, a county council governs each county. Members of the councils are elected through local elections held every 4–5 years. From the two provinces of the Republic of China, their county councils are
County councils of Taiwan Province are Changhua County Council, Chiayi County Council, Hsinchu County Council, Hualien County Council, Miaoli County Council, Nantou County Council, Penghu County Council, Pingtung County Council, Taitung County Council, Yilan County Council and Yunlin County Council.
County councils were formed in the late 19th century. In the various constituent countries of the United Kingdom councils had different powers and different memberships. Following local government reforms in the 1970s, county councils no longer exist in Scotland or Northern Ireland. In England they generally form the top level in a two-tier system of administration; in Wales they are unitary authorities.
In England county councils were introduced in 1889, and reformed in 1974. Since the mid-1990s a series of local government reorganisations has reduced the number of county councils as unitary authorities have been established in a number of areas. County councils are very large employers with a great variety of functions including education (schools and youth services), social services, highways, fire and rescue services, libraries, waste disposal, consumer services and town and country planning. Until the 1990s they also ran colleges of further education and the careers services. That decade also saw the privatisation of some traditional services, such as highway maintenance, cleaning and school meals.
County councils were created by the Local Government Act 1888, largely taking over the administrative functions of the unelected county courts of quarter sessions. County councils consisted of councillors, directly elected by the electorate; and county aldermen, chosen by the council itself. There was one county alderman for every three councillors (one for every six in the London County Council). The first elections to the councils were held at various dates in January 1889, and they served as "provisional" or shadow councils until 1 April, when they came into their powers. Elections of all councillors and half of the aldermen took place every three years thereafter. The areas over which the councils had authority were designated as administrative counties. The writ of the county councils did not extend everywhere: large towns and some historic counties corporate were constituted county boroughs by the same act. County borough councils were independent of the council for the county in which they were geographically situated, and exercised the functions of both county and district councils. The new system was a major modernisation, which reflected the increasing range of functions carried out by local government in late Victorian Britain. A major accretion of powers took place when education was added to county council responsibilities in 1902. County councils were responsible for more strategic services in a region, with (from 1894) smaller urban district councils and rural district councils responsible for other activities. The Local Government Act 1929 considerably increased the powers of county councils, who took charge of highways in rural districts.
In 1965 there was a reduction in the number of county councils. The London Government Act 1963 abolished those of London and Middlesex and created the Greater London Council. Greater London was declared to be an "area" and not to lie in any county. In addition two pairs of administrative counties were merged to become Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely and Huntingdon and Peterborough under recommendations made by the Local Government Commission for England. The Local Government Act 1972 completely reorganised local authorities in England and Wales. County boroughs were abolished and the whole of England (apart from Greater London) was placed in a two-tier arrangement with county councils and district councils. In the six largest conurbations metropolitan county councils, with increased powers, were created. The post of county alderman was abolished, and the entire council was thereafter directly elected every four years. In 1986 the six metropolitan county councils were abolished, with their functions transferred to the metropolitan boroughs and joint boards. The Local Government Act 1992 established a new Local Government Commission whose remit was to conduct a review of the structure of local administration, and the introduction of unitary authorities where appropriate. Accordingly, the number of county councils was reduced: Avon, Berkshire, Cleveland, Hereford and Worcester and Humberside were abolished, while Worcestershire County Council was re-established. The reforms somewhat blurred the distinction between county and district council. The Isle of Wight county council became a unitary authority, renamed the "Isle of Wight Council". Conversely, two unitary district councils added the word "county" to their titles to become "Rutland County Council District Council" and "County of Herefordshire District Council".
A further wave of local government reform took place in April 2009 under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007. Following invitations from central government in 2007, a number of County Councils and their associated districts examined ways in which local government provision could be rationalised, mainly in the form of abolishing the existing County and District councils and establishing one-tier authorities for all or parts of these existing counties. As a result, the status of some of these (mainly) more rural counties changed. Cornwall, Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire became unitary authorities providing all services. Some of these councils have dropped the word "county" from their titles. Bedfordshire and Cheshire County Councils were abolished with more than one unitary council established within the boundaries of the abolished council. Other county councils remained unchanged, particularly in the heavily populated parts of England such as the south-east. Further minor local government reforms took place in 2019, which led to Dorset also becoming a unitary authority providing all services.
County councils existed in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1973.
Following partition, six administrative counties remained within the United Kingdom as part of Northern Ireland. Local government came under the control of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, who quickly introduced the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1922, abolishing proportional representation. Electoral districts were redrawn, and a property qualification for voters introduced, ensuring Unionist controlled councils in counties with Nationalist majorities. In 1968 Fermanagh County Council was reconstituted as a unitary authority. County councils were abolished under the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 in 1973. The only local authorities since that date have been district councils.
In Scotland county councils existed from 1890 to 1975. They were created by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889 and reconstituted forty years later by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1929. County councils were abolished in 1975 when a system of large regional councils was introduced. Regions were themselves abolished in 1996 and replaced by the current unitary council areas.
In Scotland control of county administration was in the hands of Commissioners of Supply. This was a body of the principal landowners liable to pay land tax, and was unelected. The first elections to Scottish county councils took place in February 1890. Only the councillors for the "landward" part of the county were elected however. The remainder of the council were co-opted by the town councils of the burghs in the county. Scottish county councils also differed from those in England and Wales as they were required to divide their county into districts. A district committee of the county councillors elected for the area were an independent local council for some administrative purposes.
In 1930 the Scottish county councils were completely reconstituted. Their powers were increased in small burghs. On the other hand, large burghs became independent of the county for most purposes. The district committees created in 1890 were abolished and replaced by district councils, partly consisting of county councillors and partly of directly elected district councillors. Two joint county councils were created, for Perthshire and Kinross-shire and Moray and Nairnshire. The county councils also gained the duties of the abolished education authorities.
Since 1996 Wales has been divided into unitary principal areas. Councils were designated by the legislation that created them as either "county councils" or "county borough councils". County and county borough councils have identical powers.
Prior to 1996 local government in Wales was similar to that in England. Thus the county councils introduced in 1889 were identical to their English counterparts. The Local Government Commission for Wales appointed under the Local Government Act 1958 recommended a reduction in the number of county councils in Wales and Monmouthshire from thirteen to seven, but reform did not take place until 1974.
From 1 April 1974 the number of counties and county councils was reduced to eight in number. Like the county councils introduced in England at the same time, the whole council was elected every four years. There was a slightly different division of powers between county and district councils, however. The county and district councils were abolished twenty-two years later, when the present system of principal areas was introduced.
In the United States, most of the individual states have counties as a form of local government; in nine states, they are headed by a county council. These states are South Carolina (all counties), Indiana (all but one county), Louisiana (19 parishes), Maryland (11 counties), Utah (7 counties), Washington (5 counties), Pennsylvania (4 counties), Ohio (2 counties), Florida (1 county), In other states, each county is headed by a county commission, county board of supervisors, a board of chosen freeholders in New Jersey, a Commissioner's (or Quorum/Fiscal) Court in Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Kentucky, or a Police Jury in Louisiana.
New England has the weakest county governments in the nation. County governments were abolished in Connecticut and much of Massachusetts. In Vermont, counties are a means of re-distributing funds authorized by the state. There is no actual county government.
The term county council is sometimes used in English for regional municipal bodies in other countries.
Ayrshire (Scottish Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir, pronounced [ˈʃirˠəxk iɲiˈɾʲaːɾʲ]) is a historic county and registration county in south-west Scotland, located on the shores of the Firth of Clyde. Its principal towns include Ayr, Kilmarnock and Irvine and it borders the counties of Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire to the north-east, Dumfriesshire to the south-east, and Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire to the south. Like many other counties of Scotland it currently has no administrative function, instead being sub-divided into the council areas of North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and East Ayrshire. It has a population of approximately 366,800.
The electoral and valuation area named Ayrshire covers the three council areas of South Ayrshire, East Ayrshire and North Ayrshire, therefore including the Isle of Arran, Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae. These three islands are part of the County of Bute and are sometimes included when the term Ayrshire is applied to the region. The same area is known as Ayrshire and Arran in other contexts.Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire (), abbreviated Bucks, is a ceremonial county in South East England which borders Greater London to the south east, Berkshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the west, Northamptonshire to the north, Bedfordshire to the north east and Hertfordshire to the east.
Buckinghamshire is one of the home counties and towns such as High Wycombe, Amersham, Chesham and the Chalfonts in the east and southeast of the county are parts of the London commuter belt, forming some of the most densely populated parts of the county. Development in this region is restricted by the Metropolitan Green Belt. Other large settlements include the county town of Aylesbury, Marlow in the south near the Thames and Princes Risborough in the west near Oxford. Some areas without direct rail links to London, such as around the old county town of Buckingham and near Olney in the northeast, are much less populous. The largest town is Milton Keynes in the northeast, which with the surrounding area is administered as a unitary authority separately to the rest of Buckinghamshire. The remainder of the county is administered by Buckinghamshire County Council as a non-metropolitan county, and four district councils. In national elections, Buckinghamshire is considered a reliable supporter of the Conservative Party.
A large part of the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, runs through the south of the county and attracts many walkers and cyclists from London. In this area older buildings are often made from local flint and red brick. Many parts of the county are quite affluent and like many areas around London this has led to problems with housing costs: several reports have identified the market town of Beaconsfield as having among the highest property prices outside London. Chequers, a mansion estate owned by the government, is the country retreat of the incumbent Prime Minister. To the north of the county lies rolling countryside in the Vale of Aylesbury and around the Great Ouse. The Thames forms part of the county’s southwestern boundary. Notable service amenities in the county are Pinewood Film Studios, Dorney rowing lake and part of Silverstone race track on the Northamptonshire border. Many national companies have offices in Milton Keynes. Heavy industry and quarrying is limited, with agriculture predominating after service industries.Cheshire
Cheshire ( CHESH-ər, -eer; archaically the County Palatine of Chester) is a county in North West England, bordering Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, Staffordshire and Shropshire to the south and Flintshire, Wales and Wrexham county borough to the west. Cheshire's county town is the City of Chester (118,200); the largest town is Warrington (209,700).
Other major towns include Crewe (71,722), Ellesmere Port (55,715), Macclesfield (52,044), Northwich (75,000), Runcorn (61,789), Widnes (61,464) and Winsford (32,610)The county covers 905 square miles (2,344 km2) and has a population of around 1 million. It is mostly rural, with a number of small towns and villages supporting the agricultural and other industries which produce Cheshire cheese, salt, chemicals and silk.County town
A county town in Great Britain or Ireland is usually, but not always, the location of administrative or judicial functions within the county. The concept of a county town is ill-defined and unofficial. Following the establishment of county councils in 1889, the administrative headquarters of the new authorities were usually located in the county town of each county. However, this was not always the case and the idea of a "county town" pre-dates the establishment of these councils. For example, Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire but the county council is located at Preston.
The county town was often where the county members of Parliament were elected or where certain judicial functions were carried out, leading it to becoming established as the most important town in the county.
Some county towns are no longer situated within the administrative county. For example, Nottingham is administered by a unitary authority entirely separate from the rest of Nottinghamshire. Many county towns are classified as cities, but all are referred to as county towns regardless of whether city status is held or not. The term was also used historically in Jamaica.Dyfed
Dyfed (Welsh pronunciation: ['dəvɛd]) is a preserved county of Wales. It was created on 1 April 1974, as an amalgamation of the three pre-existing counties of Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. It was abolished twenty-two years later, on 1 April 1996, when the three original counties were reinstated, Cardiganshire being renamed Ceredigion the following day. The name "Dyfed" is retained for certain ceremonial and other purposes. It is a mostly rural county in southwestern Wales with a coastline on the Irish Sea and the Bristol Channel.Essex
Essex () is a county in the south-east of England, north-east of London. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the River Thames to the south, and London to the south-west. The county town is Chelmsford, the only city in the county. For government statistical purposes Essex is placed in the East of England region.
There are three definitions of the extent of Essex, the widest being the Ancient County, the more usual being the smaller Ceremonial County and smallest being the administrative county – the area administered by the County Council and which excludes the two unitary authorities of Thurrock and Southend.
The Ceremonial County occupies the eastern part of what was, during the Early Middle Ages, the Kingdom of Essex. As well as rural areas, the county also includes London Stansted Airport, the new towns of Basildon and Harlow, Lakeside Shopping Centre, the port of Tilbury and the borough of Southend-on-Sea.Leicestershire
Leicestershire ( (listen); postal abbreviation Leics.) is a landlocked county in the English Midlands. The county borders Nottinghamshire to the north, Lincolnshire to the north-east, Rutland to the east, Northamptonshire to the south-east, Warwickshire to the south-west, Staffordshire to the west, and Derbyshire to the north-west. The border with most of Warwickshire is Watling Street (the A5).
Leicestershire takes its name from the city of Leicester (unitary authority) located at its centre and administered separately from the rest of the county. The ceremonial county (non-metropolitan county plus the city of Leicester) has a total population of just over 1 million (2016 estimate), more than half of which (c. 50%–65%) lives in 'Greater Leicester' (Leicester's built-up area).Local education authority
Local education authorities (LEAs) are the local councils in England and Wales that are responsible for education within their jurisdiction. The term is used to identify which council (district or county) is locally responsible for education in a system with several layers of local government. Local education authorities are not usually ad hoc or standalone authorities, although the former Inner London Education Authority was one example of this.London County Council
London County Council (LCC) was the principal local government body for the County of London throughout its existence from 1889 to 1965, and the first London-wide general municipal authority to be directly elected. It covered the area today known as Inner London and was replaced by the Greater London Council. The LCC was the largest, most significant and most ambitious English municipal authority of its day.Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties are one of the four levels of subdivisions of England used for the purposes of local government outside Greater London and the Isles of Scilly. As originally constituted, the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties each consisted of multiple districts, had a county council and were also the counties for the purposes of Lieutenancies. Later changes in legislation during the 1980s and 1990s have allowed counties without county councils and 'unitary authority' counties of a single district. Counties for the purposes of Lieutenancies are now defined separately, based on the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties.
In 2009, there were further structural changes in some areas, resulting in a total of 83 metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties. These 83 counties collectively consist of 292 districts or district-level subdivisions, i.e. 36 metropolitan boroughs and 256 non-metropolitan districts (201 of these are subdivisions of non-metropolitan counties with county councils; 6 are subdivisions (and also unitary authorities, but without non-metropolitan county status) of Berkshire, which is a non-metropolitan county with no county council; and the remaining 49 are unitary authorities that have non-metropolitan county status).North Yorkshire
North Yorkshire is a non-metropolitan county (or shire county) and the largest ceremonial county in England. It is located primarily in the region of Yorkshire and the Humber but partly in the region of North East England. The estimated (by ONS) population of North Yorkshire was 602,300 in mid-2016 (not including the unitary districts of York, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar & Cleveland).Created by the Local Government Act 1972, it covers an area of 8,654 square kilometres (3,341 sq mi), making it the largest county in England. The majority of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors lie within North Yorkshire's boundaries, and around 40% of the county is covered by National Parks. The largest towns are Middlesbrough (174,700), York (152,841), Harrogate (73,576) and Scarborough (61,749); the county town, Northallerton, has a population of 16,832.Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire (; abbreviated Northants.), archaically known as the County of Northampton, is a county in the East Midlands of England. In 2015 it had a population of 723,000. The county is administered by Northamptonshire County Council and by seven non-metropolitan district councils. It is known as "The Rose of the Shires".
Covering an area of 2,364 square kilometres (913 sq mi), Northamptonshire is landlocked between eight other counties: Warwickshire to the west, Leicestershire and Rutland to the north, Cambridgeshire to the east, Bedfordshire to the south-east, Buckinghamshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the south-west and Lincolnshire to the north-east – England's shortest administrative county boundary at 19 metres (20 yards). Northamptonshire is the southernmost county in the East Midlands region.
Apart from the county town of Northampton, other major population centres include Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough, Rushden and Daventry. Northamptonshire's county flower is the cowslip.Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire (pronounced ; abbreviated Notts.) is a county in the East Midlands region of England, bordering South Yorkshire to the north-west, Lincolnshire to the east, Leicestershire to the south, and Derbyshire to the west. The traditional county town is Nottingham, though the county council is based at County Hall in West Bridgford in the borough of Rushcliffe, at a site facing Nottingham over the River Trent.
The districts of Nottinghamshire are Ashfield, Bassetlaw, Broxtowe, Gedling, Mansfield, Newark and Sherwood, and Rushcliffe. The City of Nottingham was administratively part of Nottinghamshire between 1974 and 1988, but is now a unitary authority, remaining part of Nottinghamshire for ceremonial purposes.
In 2017, the county was estimated to have a population of 785,800.
Over half of the population of the county live in the Greater Nottingham conurbation (which continues into Derbyshire). The conurbation has a population of about 650,000, though less than half live within the city boundaries.Oxfordshire County Council elections
Oxfordshire County Council is elected every four years.Scouting in New York
Scouting in New York has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live. The first National Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Headquarters was in New York City, and the Girl Scouts of the USA National Headquarters is currently located at 420 5th Avenue, New York, New York.Scouting in Oklahoma
Scouting in Oklahoma has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live.Surrey
Surrey ( SURR-ee) is a county in South East England which borders Kent to the east, West Sussex to the south, Hampshire to the west, Berkshire to the northwest, and Greater London to the northeast.
With about 1.2 million people, Surrey is the twelfth most populous English county, the third most populous home county, after Kent and Essex, and the third most populous in the South East, after Hampshire and Kent.
Guildford is the county town, although Surrey County Council is based extraterritorially at Kingston upon Thames.
Surrey is divided into eleven districts: Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Tandridge, Waverley, and Woking.
The London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Wandsworth, and parts of Lewisham and Bromley were in Surrey until 1889, as were Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Sutton and the part of Richmond upon Thames on the right bank of the River Thames until 1965, when they were absorbed into Greater London, and the county extended north of the Thames by the addition of Spelthorne, as a result of the dissolution of Middlesex.
Surrey is a wealthy county due to economic, aesthetic, conservation and logistical factors. It has the highest GDP per capita of any English county, some of the highest property values outside Inner London, and also the highest cost of living outside of the capital.
Surrey has the highest proportion of woodland in England. It has large protected green spaces (such as the North Downs, Greensand Ridge and related Surrey Hills AONB and royal landscapes adjoin it — Windsor Great Park and Bushy Park near the River Thames). It has four horse racing courses, and golf courses including international competition venue Wentworth.
Surrey is close to Heathrow and Gatwick airports and the M25, M3 and M23 motorways and has frequent rail services to central London.Tyne and Wear
Tyne and Wear () is a metropolitan county in the North East region of England around the mouths of the rivers Tyne and Wear. It came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. It consists of the five metropolitan boroughs of South Tyneside, North Tyneside, City of Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and City of Sunderland. It is bounded on the east by the North Sea, and has borders with Northumberland to the north and County Durham to the south.
Prior to the 1974 reforms, the territory now covered by the county of Tyne and Wear straddled the border between the counties of Northumberland and Durham, the border being marked by the river Tyne; that territory also included five county boroughs.
Tyne and Wear County Council was abolished in 1986, and so its districts (the metropolitan boroughs) are now unitary authorities. However, the metropolitan county continues to exist in law and as a geographic frame of reference, and as a ceremonial county.West Sussex
West Sussex is a county in the south of England, bordering East Sussex (with Brighton and Hove) to the east, Hampshire to the west and Surrey to the north, and to the south the English Channel.
West Sussex is the western part of the historic county of Sussex, formerly a medieval kingdom. With an area of 1,991 square kilometres (769 sq mi) and a population of over 800,000, West Sussex is a ceremonial county, with a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff. Chichester in the south-west is the county town and the only city in West Sussex; the largest towns are Crawley, Worthing and Horsham.
West Sussex has a range of scenery, including wealden, downland and coastal. The highest point of the county is Blackdown, at 280 metres (919 ft). It has a number of stately homes including Goodwood, Petworth House and Uppark, and castles such as Arundel Castle and Bramber Castle. Over half the county is protected countryside, offering walking, cycling and other recreational opportunities.