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Frequently Asked Questions - Councils and Wards

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These Frequently Asked Questions provide information about us and our work. If you cannot find the answer you are looking for in the sections above, contact us using the details at the bottom left of each page.

How many wards and councillors are there?
There are a total of 1,227 councillors elected from 354 wards in Scotland's 32 local authorities (from 4 May 2017) - each ward returns either 3 or 4 councillors. You can get more information from the reviews page of this website, including a full list of current and historic wards and a description of local authorities since 1973.

Does the Commission decide how many councillors there are for a local authority?
As part of an electoral review of a local authority, we will make a recommendation on how many councillors there should be for that local authority. As with all of our recommendations, Scottish Ministers decide how to implement that recommendation.

Does the Commission decide how many councillors there are for each ward?
The legislation specifies that there are to be either 3 or 4 councillors elected from each ward. We do not have any power to alter that legislation which has been made by the Scottish Parliament. For each ward we design during a review, we recommend whether there should be 3 or 4 members elected from that ward.

What's the structure of Scottish local authority areas?
The current local authority structure in Scotland of 32 single-tier (or unitary) local authorities was introduced in 1995. There are Information Papers that describe how the boundaries of local authority areas have been defined since 1973 on the publications page of this website.

Where is Na h-Eileanan an Iar?
Na h-Eileanan an Iar is the local authority area covering the Western Isles, and its Council's name is Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Comhairle is Gaelic for Council). The local authority was established in 1996 under the name Western Isles, but changed that to Na h-Eileanan an Iar shortly afterwards. Since na h- is a form of the definite article ("the" in English), we put Na h-Eileanan an Iar under "E" in alphabetical lists.

Do you define the areas of community councils?
No. Community councils and their areas of responsibility are defined by local authorities. The legislation allows a local authority or Scottish Ministers to consult us when deciding on community council boundaries, but this only happens infrequently. If you want more information about community councils, you should contact the local authority responsible for the area that you are interested in.

Where do local government areas end when they meet the sea?
Normally, the extent of a local government area ends at the low water mark. In a small number of cases, a local government area has been extended by legislation around a port or harbour into the surrounding sea beyond the low water mark. The largest of these seaward extensions is Yell Sound in the Shetland Islands, and there are also substantial extensions at Aberdeen and Greenock. We use the Ordnance Survey depiction of these seaward extensions.

The Commission | Councils | Scottish Parliament | Data for GIS | Electorate | Maps | Postcodes | Reviews | Technical

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