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About Local Authorities

Nature and status of local authorities

Local government districts are in 3 categories: town districts, village districts and parish districts. The distinction is not so important today as it once was, but authorities for town districts and village districts have certain powers which authorities for parish districts do not.

The town districts are:

  • Douglas
  • Castletown
  • Ramsey
  • Peel

The village districts are:

  • Onchan
  • Laxey
  • Michael
  • Port Erin
  • Port St Mary

The parish districts are:

  • Andreas
  • Arbory
  • Ballaugh
  • Braddan
  • Bride
  • German
  • Jurby
  • Lezayre
  • Lonan
  • Malew
  • Marown
  • Maughold
  • Patrick
  • Rushen
  • Santon

Nature of local authorities

Apart from the classification into town, village and parish authorities, there are 3 distinct legal categories of local authority:

The local authority for each town district (except Douglas), village district and parish district is the body of commissioners elected by the local government electors of the district. The Commissioners are a "body corporate", i.e. a legal person separate from the individual commissioners.

Douglas Corporation
The local authority for the town district of Douglas is the municipal corporation, i.e. the body corporate whose formal title is "The Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Douglas" but is commonly known as Douglas Corporation. The Corporation acts through the Borough Council, which consists of the mayor and the elected councillors (and is not itself a body corporate).

Joint Boards
A number of joint boards have been established, by orders made by the Department, for areas comprising the districts of 2 or more local authorities. They are bodies corporate, consisting of members appointed by the constituent authorities (and by the Department in some cases), and are responsible for specific functions, mainly refuse collection, housing for old people or the provision of swimming pools.

Functions of local authorities

It is important that high standards are maintained in local government, and this can be achieved by a full understanding of the legislation governing the functions of local authorities and the procedures in place to exercise those functions.

Setting a Rate

One of the main functions of a Local Authority is to set a rate for the district to provide the required
services to the ratepayers. When an Authority fixes its rate and budget for the forthcoming year, it first
estimates how much it will spend in that year to provide those services. Any grants or income from
other sources are deducted.

The functions of local authorities can be conveniently grouped under the following headings. Some functions are reserved to town and village authorities or are otherwise restricted.

  • Public information and advice
  • Tourism
  • Refuse collection
  • Street-lighting
  • Environmental health
  • Public conveniences
  • Parks, playgrounds and other leisure facilities
  • Control of dogs
  • Housing
  • Car-parking
  • Street-cleaning
  • Building control
  • Planning
  • Sewerage
  • Libraries and museums
  • Abandoned vehicles

The table below, is a summary of the functions carried out by Local Authorities with the
assistance of Central Government:-


Environmental Health

Enforcing legislation relating to environmental health including statutory nuisances, verminous premises, unsanitary and unfit housing, regulation of flats, prevention of overcrowding, dangerous/ruinous buildings and unsightly land, and unsanitary drainage.

All of these functions are in the main undertaken on behalf of Local Authorities by officers of the Department of Local Government and the Environment.


Provision of public sector housing in their districts. The Department provides public sector housing in other districts.

Sheltered accommodation for the elderly can also be provided.
(Government meets 100% the housing deficiency on the Island).

Building Control

This function is currently undertaken by Douglas, Peel and Onchan for their districts; elsewhere the Department of Local Government and the Environment is the Building Authority.

Street Cleaning

Street-cleaning is undertaken by certain Local Authorities as agents for the Department of Transport. Some Authorities also provide litter bins, which are emptied on a regular basis.


The Department of Transport is responsible for all sewerage on the Island, though this may be delegated to a Local Authority for a particular district.


For more information about the duties of Local Authorities please go to the Isle of Man Government Department of Local Government and the Environments website by clicking here.