How Wales is Governed

How Wales is Governed

How Wales is Governed

In Wales, there are four ‘tiers’ of representative democracy. Wales is served by 40 Members of Parliament (MPs) – although this is expected to change in the future, 60 Members of the Senedd (MSs) and 1,234 local councillors elected to county or county borough councils. In most rural areas and in some urban areas the electorate is also served by a town and community council. There are over 8,000 community and town councillors in Wales.

Authorities in Wales

National Park Authorities

There are 3 national park authorities, covering the Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast and Snowdonia; the authorities’ membership includes some members appointed by the Welsh Government and councillors appointed by the local authorities who have land within the national park.

Fire and Rescue Authorities

There are 3 fire and rescue authorities in Wales covering North Wales, Mid and West Wales and South Wales. Councillors are appointed to the Fire and Rescue Authority by their constituent local authorities.

Police Forces in Wales

The four police forces in Wales, Gwent, Dyfed-Powys, North Wales and South Wales are each governed by an elected Police and Crime Commissioner and scrutinised by a police and crime panel, which includes councillors appointed by the relevant local authorities.


There are also a range of Welsh Government Sponsored Bodies (WGSBs) in Wales, these are public bodies that play an advisory, public policy, regulatory role or are responsible for public funding or service delivery. Public appointments are made to the boards of these bodies by the Welsh Government. Examples include the Arts Council for Wales, Natural Resources Wales and Sport Wales.

Boards and committees

Seven Health Boards in Wales are responsible within their geographical area for planning, funding and delivering primary health care services- GPs, pharmacies, dentists and optometrists, hospital services and community services. An elected member from an authority within the Local Health Board area sits on each of the Boards.

Public Services Boards (PSB) are statutory partnerships which are established to improve the economic, social, environmental and cultural well-being in its area by strengthening joint working across all public services in Wales. Some PSBs cover more than one authority, for example in Gwent and in Conwy and Denbighshire, but in most parts of Wales the PSB is aligned to the local authority footprint. PSBs produce wellbeing assessments and wellbeing plans for their areas. The statutory members of a PSB are the Local Authority, the Local Health Board, the Fire and Rescue Authority and Natural Resources Wales. The following are also invited to participate: Welsh Ministers, Chief Constables, the Police and Crime Commissioner, certain probation services and at least one body representing relevant voluntary organisations.

Regional Corporate Joint Committees (CJC) have been established covering North Wales, Mid Wales, South West and South East Wales broadly on the same regional footprint as the City and Growth Deals. They are intended to enable some council functions to be delivered more effectively and strategically at a regional level. These CJCs will have a regional responsibility initially for economic well-being, strategic development planning and developing transport policies. They may choose to take responsibility for additional functions if this works well for the region.

CJCs are local government bodies and each will have a different constitution as agreed by its members. The Leaders of each council in the region will make up the Committee together with other co-optees and a senior member from the National Park where there is one in the area.

What do Councils do?

Councils provide a range of services to their communities. Some are statutory which means that they must be provided. These include refuse collection and libraries. Others are regulatory. These must also be provided and include planning and managing the development of land and property, and licensing of, for example premises or taxis. Finally, there are discretionary services which councils may choose to provide such as the promotion of tourism.

Here are some examples of what your council is responsible for:

Schools and school transport

Strategies, advice, provision, and benefit administration

Social Services
Care and protection of children, older people and Disabled people

Highways & Transport
Road maintenance, traffic management and planning, street naming

Waste Management
Refuse collection, recycling and fly tipping

Leisure & Cultural Services
Libraries, museums, leisure centres and the arts

Consumer Protection
Trading Standards

Environmental Services
Food safety, pollution control

Development planning and development management

Economic Development
Attracting new businesses, promoting leisure and tourism

Emergency Planning
In case of emergencies such as floods, diseases, or terrorist attacks

Council work and collaboration

Working with the Welsh Government

Working with the UK Government

Working with Community & Town Councils