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Public Services in Devon

Democratic Structure

Public services in Devon are provided by a range of public authorities who work closely together for the benefit of local people.

Three tiers of local Government currently serve residents in the administrative county of Devon – county council, district council and town/parish council.

In addition, there are two separate authorities covering Plymouth and Torbay. These unitary authorities combine the functions of both a county and district.

The work of all these public bodies is guided by local representatives. These elected members or councillors are responsible for setting budgets, planning services and for ensuring local priorities are met.

The County Council is the highest level of local government in Devon.

Devon County Council employs over 20,000 people and is the county’s largest employer. Most of these are employed in providing frontline services in local communities. Its responsibilities include big services such as schools, social care for the elderly and vulnerable, road maintenance, libraries and trading standards. The county council also has a strategic responsibility for planning, waste disposal, and transport and represents the interests of the county and its 700,000 people at a national level.

There are currently 62 county councillors with an average member representing 13,000 residents. These councillors are elected every four years.

District, borough and city councils are the second level of local Government. In Devon there are eight second-tier authorities: North Devon, Torridge, South Hams, Teignbridge, East Devon and Mid Devon District Councils; West Devon Borough Council; and Exeter City Council.

Their responsibilities include things like local planning, council housing, refuse collection, sports and leisure facilities, and street cleaning.

At grass roots level are town and parish councils. These act as the voice of a local community and provide and maintain allotments, footpaths, playing fields and the local community or village hall.

An increasing number of parish councils also help manage other services such as litter control, verge and footpath maintenance and minor highway repairs.

Working together

County, district and town or parish councils often have shared responsibilities. These include things like economic development and regeneration, emergency planning, tourism promotion and coastal protection.

Local authorities also frequently work together in partnership with the voluntary sector and other public bodies such as the Police, Fire and Health services to meet local needs.