So you’ve got a new council, but what do they do now?

Whether your council has changed party or not, there’ll be new councillors across London today preparing to step into office for the first time. Here’s what powers they’ll have.

Bins, not Brussels

Despite the talk of national issues swinging the vote, Councillors have little say on the major issues and work independently of the MP elected in a General Election.

Those voted in on Thursday will be focused on the local issues in their city or borough, rather than policymaking.

What kind of councils are there, and what are their roles?

Not all councils are created equally, mostly down to the size of the area and population.

County councils have the most power, with the ability to make decisions about education, transport, planning, fire services and social care.

For Londoners (and similarly in other metropolitan areas), each borough elects a council who can make decisions on roads, social housing, waste collection, education and social services.

Uniquely for London, as the city also elect a London assembly some of the bigger decisions for the city, are decided through City Hall and by working with the Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

How is the council made up?

Each London council is divided into 21 wards, and there are three councillors elected for each one. The party with the largest share of seats and councillors will be able to appoint a leader, who oversee the process.

Who gets a mayor?

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Following the push for Scottish independence there has been a new focus on the devolution across the UK. This has lead to Mayors being appointed in larger regions for the first, such as South Yorkshire and Manchester. Dan Jarvis today won the first election in the region but, unlike Andy Burnham in Manchester and Khan in London, he will be able to carry on as a Member of Parliament.

In London there are also Mayors for four boroughs (Hackney, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets). This is instead of picking a council leader from the largest party in the council.

An elected mayor has more individual responsibility and are able to appoint a cross-party cabinet. While only four out of 32 boroughs opt for elected mayors, supporters of the system believe that it makes the council more accountable.

How much do councillors get paid?

As it’s not a full-time role, most councillors do not get a salary, but are offered compensation for their time and any expenses. The costs of each councillors vary, some will claim a couple of thousand of pounds, while others have been compensated over £20,000 according to the BBC.

You can find more specific details about London councillors on their government website.  

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