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Local government structure

1 December 2015

Essex County Council is the local government body for the county area of Essex. However, it is not the only council within Essex, and several key responsibilities relating to the provision of services to the people of Essex are not vested in Essex County Council. Services are also provided by


Each type of council in Essex is independent of each other, although the different tiers of local government increasingly work together in partnerships to deliver services.

District and borough councils

There are twelve district and borough councils within the area of Essex, plus two unitary authorities (see below). The district and borough councils are responsible for many of the day to day services that affect people. These duties include housing, local planning, refuse collection, street cleaning, organising elections and maintaining the electoral roll.
The district and borough councils are:


Unitary authorities

In addition to the twelve district and borough councils that comprise the administrative county of Essex (the Administrative county being the area for which Essex County Council has responsibility), there are also two unitary authorities within the geographical county of Essex. Unitary authorities are areas where a single council is responsible for the provision of services that elsewhere are divided between district and county councils. Although the unitary authorities within the geographical county of Essex are wholly independent from Essex County Council, in practical terms we work closely with them to deliver best value services to all our customers.

The unitary authorities are:

Town and Parish Councils

Town and parish councils vary in size from those with a population of around 200 to those with a population of over 30,000. Annual expenditure can vary greatly, depending on the circumstances of the individual council. Parish and town councils (local councils) have the same powers and duties, but a town council may elect a town mayor, rather than a chairman, each year in May.

There are just under 300 town and parish councils within Essex. To find out whether you have a parish or town council, visit the Essex Parishes Map.

Local councils play a vital role in representing the interests of their communities and improving the quality of life and the local environment. They can also influence other decision makers and can deliver services to meet local needs. Their powers and duties range from maintaining allotments and open spaces to crime prevention and providing recreation facilities.

Local councils have the right to become statutory consultees at both district and county level and, although the decision remains with the planning authorities, local councils can influence the decision-making process by making informed comments and recommendations.

Information for parish councils, including the Making the Links newsletter, can be found in the Partners area.


Quality Councils

The Quality status scheme requires a local council to show that it is representative of the whole community, is properly managed and responsible, and communicates with its residents. Visit the Quality Councils in Essex page for further information.