Gef’s Quick Guide to Local Authorities

It’s an election year which has all of us at Gef excited. And even better than it just being a General Election year, this summer will also see local authority elections.

Since the local authorities are up first in this double election year, with members due to face the polls in July, we thought this is an ideal time to explain the makeup of local government and explain what they do. 

How Many Are There?

Across the island, there are 21 local authorities. This includes four town authorities, two district authorities, two village authorities, and 13 parish authorities. The number of members on each local authority ranges from five in some small authorities up to 18 in Douglas.

While the capital currently has 18 members on its Council, that will be dropping down to 12 after the election. The current ward system will also be replaced with one which mirrors the Keys constituencies with each district represented by three Councillors.

They are: Andreas, Arbory and Rushen, Ballaugh, Braddan, Bride, Castletown, Douglas, Garff (Laxey, Lonan and Maughold), German, Jurby, Lezayre, Malew, Marown. Michael, Onchan, Patrick, Peel, Port Erin, Port St Mary, Ramsey and Santon. Arbory & Rushen Parish. Douglas, Garff and Ramsey are the only local authorities to have wards where people represent districts within those authorities. 

Local authorities by how many members will be elected in April

What Do They Do?

Not so easy this one as different authorities do different things and some, such as Ramsey, have more powers and responsibilities than say Bride. Some authorities also share responsibility for things like regional swimming pools and civic amenity sites.  

The functions of each local authority, image:

But essentially, they are responsible for: 

  • Public information and advice
  • Tourism; Refuse collection
  • Street-lighting
  • Environmental health
  • Public conveniences
  • Parks, playgrounds and other leisure facilities
  • Control of dogs
  • Housing
  • Car parking
  • Street cleaning 
  • Gully Emptying
  • Removal of Weeds
  • Maintenance of Highway verges
  • Hedge trimming
  • Building control (Douglas and Onchan do this for their own areas)
  • Libraries
  • Trees and high hedges
  • Abandoned vehicles 
  • Preservation of War Memorials


The local authority elections are on Thursday, July 22 so here’s what you need to know ahead of them:

  • Make sure you’re registered to vote
  • Know who represents you – in some areas like Onchan or Santon this will be obvious, but if your local authority is Garff, you will have members who represent Laxey and others who represent Lonan. You can check who represents you here.
  • Just wait – when the vote gets closer you’ll receive a poll card and instructions on where to go to vote, but once you know what area you live in, why not check out your local authority’s website and social media pages to give you an even better idea of what they get up to and who represents you. You could even find out when the authority’s next meeting is and go along to see what they get up to and how decisions that affect your area are made.

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