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A councillor or councilor (Cllr, Coun., Clr or Cr for short) is a member of a local government council, such as a city council. Often in the United Statesmarker, the title is councilman or councilwoman. In the United Kingdom, all local authorities are overseen by elected councillors.

These include:

  1. Unitary authorities
  2. County councils
  3. District councils
  4. Parish, town and community councils
  5. The Common Council of the City of London (where they are known as aldermen and councilmen)

Councillors are typically elected as members of political parties or alternatively as independents. Once elected they are meant to represent all their constituents and not just those who voted for them. They are bound by a code of conduct enforced by standards boards. The 2007 Local Elections in the UK saw the age limit for councillors fall to 18, leading to younger people standing.

Decision making structures

The Local Government Act 2000 established new political management structures for councils in England and Wales. Councils in England and Wales with populations above 85,000 now take one of three forms; elected mayor with executive powers, leader and cabinet with executive powers, or directly elected mayor with an appointed council manager.

Councillors' skills

More specialised decision making structures mean councillors are expected to perform a range of different roles, such as; licencing and regulatory decision making, policy overview & scrutiny, executive decision making, political leadership, determining planning applications and community representation.

Councillors also play a wider role in providing community leadership. They enable communities to help themselves and provide a vital link between the local authority and the communities which they serve. Non executive councillors now have more time to focus on improving the communities which they serve, and play more of a role in developing policy and recommending to the Executive, decisions to be made and holding them to account publicly for their decisions, through the scrutiny process, which provides a platform for real issues which affect communities. Issues which can be raised by fellow councillors and members of the public alike, and for in depth work to be carried out into those issues. A councillor’s role is now one of influence rather than that of power, influencing the decision makers and holding them to account as well as influencing the key stakeholders within their wards. Councillors have a mandate now to lead and identify opportunities for change in a wide range of subjects which affect the communities in which we live, to identify skills and resources within communities and to bring them together for the greater good, this, along with greater emphasis in local government over partnership working with health, police and fire authorities.

The desire for clearer roles and raised standards has been accompanied by an increase in councillor training and development by organisations such as the Improvement and Development Agency, The Local Government Information Unit LGIU and the Local Government Association.


Most councillors are not full time professionals, although most councils do pay them a basic allowance and out-of-pocket expenses. In addition special responsibility allowances are paid to councillors who carry out more senior roles. The basic allowance (and special responsibility allowance) are theoretically paid to compensate councillors for the time spent on council duties. Parish, town or community councillors may, since the Local Government Act 2000, be paid for their services, but most are not.

In Scotland since 2007 councillors have received a salary of £15k as opposed to a series of allowances. These are often topped up by special responsibility allowances.

Regional government

The London Assembly is not regarded as a local authority but a regional devolved assembly and its members are referred to as Assembly Members.

United States

Councilmember, councilman/councilwoman or councilor (sometimes spelled councillor) is a title for a member of a council used in the United Statesmarker.

In particular, the title is used in the following cases.

The Philippines

The the Philippine Republic Act No. 7160 (otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991), a councilor is a member of a local council that is the legislative body of the local geovernment unit. Local Governments in the Philippines are of four regular categories, excluding the Sangguniang Kabataan.

Sangguniang Kabataan

A special council for the barangay youth but has less legislative functions. Only the Sangguniang Kabataan Chairman sits as an ex-officio member to the Sangguniang Barangay.

Sangguniang Barangay

Barangay Council, the legislature of the smallest political unit in the Philippines composing of 7 regular members excluding the presiding officer that is the Punong Barangay aka Barangay Chairman/Captain and its one ex-officio member.

Sangguniang Bayan

Municipal Council, the legislature of a town or a municipality that is composed of 8 regular members excluding the Vice-Mayor that is the presiding officer, and the ex-officio members that are the Association of Barangay Chairmen President, the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation President, and other ex-officio members provided by its local provisions.

Sangguniang Panlungsod

City Council, composed of regular members that are dependent on the number provided by its chartering republic act excluding its Vice-Mayor that is the presiding officer. Two usual ex-officio members would include the Association of Barangay Chairmen President and the Sangguniang Kabataan Federation President. Its powers, functions and responsibilities as a legislative body would be similar to the Sangguniang Bayan and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan combined together. However, its chartering as a city would determine if it shall act either as independent from a Sangguniang Panlalawigan or component to it.

Sangguniang Lalawigan

Provincial Board, the legislative body of a provincial government in the philippines. The composition of its regular members depends on the number of its congressional district representations in the National House of Representatives provided by the Local Government Code of 1991 and its amendments. Usually, it has three ex-officio members namely the Philippine Councilors League Provincial President, Liga ng mga Barangay Provincial President, and the Sangguniang Kabataan Provincial Federation President.


In Finlandmarker councillor (neuvos) is the highest possible title of honour which can be granted by the President of Finland. There are several ranks of councillors and they've been granted since the Russian Regime. Few examples of different councillors in Finland are as follows:

  • Councillor of State: the highest class of the titles of honour; granted to successful statesmen
  • Mining Councillor/Trade Councillor/Industry Councillor/Economy Councillor: granted to leading industry figures on different fields of economy
  • Councillor of Parliament': granted to successful statesmen
  • Office Councillor: granted to leading university figures
  • Councillor of Culture/Theatre Councillor/Film Councillor: granted to leading culture figures
  • Chamber Councillor: granted for successful officials on the field of local government

Deprecated titles of honour

  • (Actual) Privy Councillor: the highest title of honour ever granted in Finland for the highest officials of the state
  • Collegiate Councillor: granted to successful politicians
  • Court Councillor: granted to successful officials in foreign politics
  • Titular Councillor: the lowest class of titles of honour

Other countries

In Canadamarker, Australia, New Zealandmarker, South Africa and other parts of the Commonwealth, as well as in the Republic of Irelandmarker, a councillor or councilor is an elected representative on a local government council.

In the Netherlandsmarker, a member of the municipal council is called a gemeenteraadslid or raadslid. Someone out of this group who is elected to serve on the municipal executive is called a wethouder, which is usually translated as "alderman" or "councillor". The Dutch word for mayor is burgermeester. This is expressed in English as "mayor" or "burgomaster". The municipal executive is referred to collectively as the College van Burgemeester en Wethouders.

In Belgiummarker, a member of the municipal council is called a gemeenteraadslid in Dutch. Someone out of this group who is elected to serve on the municipal executive is called a schepen in Dutch or échevin in French. This is usually translated as "alderman" or "councillor" in English. The municipal executive is referred to collectively as the College van Burgermeester en Schepen.

In Luxembourgmarker, an échevin ( , ) is a member of the administration of a Luxembourgianmarker commune.

In the Czech Republicmarker, the word šepmistr (pl. šepmistři) is used to refer to a similar type of civic office.


See also

External links

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