Local government in Wales

Since 1 April 1996, Wales has been divided into 22 single-tier principal areas (Welsh: Awdurdodau unedol) for local government purposes.[1] The elected councils of these areas are responsible for the provision of all local government services, including education, social work, environmental protection, and most highways. Below these there are also (in most, but not all, parts of the principal areas) elected community councils to which responsibility for specific aspects of the application of local policy may be devolved. The last set of local elections in Wales took place in 2017, with the next due to take place in 2022.

Principal Areas of Wales
Awdurdodau unedol Cymru (Welsh)
Map of the 22 principal areas of Wales
CategoryUnitary authorities
  • 1 April 1999
Number22 (as of 2021)
Possible types
  • County
  • City
  • County Borough
  • County / County borough Council

The monarch appoints a Lord Lieutenant to represent her in each of the eight preserved counties of Wales, which are combinations of principal areas retained for ceremonial purposes.

Subdivisions of Wales created for such purposes as the organisation of the National Health Service and the provision of police and emergency services are made up of combinations of principal areas. For example, the Dyfed–Powys Police force operates in the area covered by the principal areas of Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, and Carmarthenshire as well as in Powys – the former three constituting the preserved county of Dyfed.