Your Local Councils: Who does what?

In Uttlesford we have 3-tiers of local government: Essex County Council, Uttlesford District Council, and individual Town/Parish councils for each settlement.

It is very confusing to know who does what. Take rubbish for example. In Saffron Walden, ECC runs the tip, UDC empties the bins at homes, and the Town Council empties the bins on the street…so here is our handy infographic.

How our councils work

Councils employ officers and other civil servant employees to deliver our services. These services are paid for through council taxes, business rates, income from running services (such as car parks and community centres) and other government grants.

Every 4 years we elect councillors to each council. These councillors are there to oversee services, hold the officers to account, and make sure that residents’ needs are addressed. The majority party on each council sets the direction and priorities for that council. The Conservatives are the majority party at ECC. The next County Council elections are in 2025. In May 2019 and again in 2023 R4U was elected to lead UDC.

Parish councils are generally not politically controlled, although the bigger ones (town councils) often are because they deliver many more services. These town councils in effect work like smaller district councils. R4U has led Saffron Walden Town Council since 2015. There is no overall control at Great Dunmow Town Council.

Tax levels for the Police and Fire services are controlled by the elected Police and Fire commissioner, who has been Conservative since the posts were first created in 2012. That means 86p in every £1 of council taxes are set by the Conservatives and collected by their administrations at Essex County Council, the Police, and Fire services.

Councillors at county and district councils are paid an allowance for their work. Those on town and parish councils don’t – they volunteer their time for free. Because they work unpaid, there are proportionally more town/parish councillors in an area so they can spread the work.

What each council does

Councils offer many more services than those summary ones on our graphic above. They list them on their websites.

Find out more about what each council tier offers:

  1. ECC is responsible for highways (potholes, roads, streetlights, pavements, pavements, cycleways, footpaths/ights of way), education, libraries, emergency planning, waste management, trading standards, travellers/gypsies, social care, various family services and many other things. See the full A-Z list on the ECC website.
  2. UDC is responsible for planning, housing, picking up bins, fly tipping, car parks, pollution, licensing, conservation and the environment, many sports and leisure facilities, and many other things. See the full A-Z list on the UDC website.
  3. Find links to town and parish councils on our Parishes, Villages & Towns page.

We also elect a Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner in Essex, who sets the priorities and direction for those authorities.

Contact R4U with any issue

It is all very confusing. At R4U our councillors are there for residents even if it isn’t their responsibility. Contact them with your issues and they will make the connection to the right person or authority if it isn’t them. In you have any issue, find the R4U councillor in your area and drop them a line through their page.

Find out more about what says about council responsibilities.