Definition of council noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈkaʊnsl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈkaʊnsl//
    [countable + singular or plural verb] (also the Council)
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  1. 1  a group of people who are elected to govern an area such as a city or county a city/county/borough/district council She's on the local council. a council member/meeting Culturelocal governmentThe system of local government is slightly different in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England is divided into counties each with a county council which is responsible for certain services. Each county is divided again into districts, each with a district council responsible for a smaller area. Districts are further divided into parishes which were originally villages with churches. In some parts of England, there are instead unitary authorities which have just one level of local government responsible for an area or city, sometimes called a metropolitan district. London has a separate system with an elected Assembly and a mayor. In Scotland, there are 32 council areas. Wales is divided into 22 counties and county boroughs and Northern Ireland has 26 districts. All of these are unitary authorities with one level of local government.Councils consist of councillors who are representatives elected by local people for a period of four years. Most councillors belong to a political party and, especially at county level, people often vote for them as representatives of a party, not as individuals. Since the Local Government Act of 2000, councils have been led by a council leader and a cabinet of councillors, or a directly elected mayor and a cabinet. Councils meet in a council chamber at the local town hall or county hall.Councils make policies for their area which are carried out by local government officers, who have a similar role to civil servants. Local authorities (= councils and committees) have responsibilities for education, social services, housing, transport, the fire and police services and other local services. Many people are employed by councils, but many services are also now carried out by private companies who are given contracts by the council. Councils receive some money from central government in the form of grants, they also collect council tax from each household, a locally set tax based on the value of the house.In the US, local government has three levels, with the State government, County government and below that, towns and cities. State government is organized in a similar way to the federal government, with a state constitution in most states which explains the powers of the three branches of state government, the executive, the legislative and the judicial. The executive branch is headed by a governor and state laws are made by a legislature, which usually has two houses, a Senate and a House of Representatives. The judicial branch usually consists of a state supreme court and several lower courts. States have great influence and organize their own system of courts and set local income tax and sales tax.States are divided into counties which have a county government located in a town or city called the county seat. The structure of county government varies from state to state, but most countries have a Board of Commissioners, sometimes called a Board of Supervisors, with the Board and other county officials usually being elected. Services provided by a county government depend on the area, whether it is mainly urban or rural. In urban areas, city and county governments may work together to provide services for the area. Counties usually have a sheriff's department, a kind of police department, whose officers are called sheriff's deputies.America's cities, towns and other municipalities vary greatly from small towns of a few hundred people to cities of millions. For that reason, there is no single system of local government. Most towns and cities have an elected mayor as their head and a council, made up of elected members from different areas of the city, which makes ordinances (= local laws). A municipal government usually has its own police force and courts, runs local schools, takes care of the roads, and may also provide services like public transport, water and electricity.
  2. 2  (British English) the organization that provides services in a city or county, for example education, houses, libraries, etc. council workers/services
  3. 3a group of people chosen to give advice, make rules, do research, provide money, etc. the Medical Research Council In Britain, the Arts Council gives grants to theatres.
  4. 4(formal) (especially in the past) a formal meeting to discuss what action to take in a particular situation The King held a council at Nottingham from 14 to 19 October 1330.
  5. see also Privy Council
    Word OriginOld English (in the sense ‘ecclesiastical assembly’): from Anglo-Norman French cuncile, from Latin concilium ‘convocation, assembly’, from con- ‘together’ + calare ‘summon’. Compare with counsel.Extra examples As a struggling young composer, she applied to the California Arts Council for grant money. Many county councils are now controlled by the Conservatives. Our party won the majority of seats on the city councils. She’s on the borough council. Students should apply to their local council for a grant. The Arts Council gives grants for local projects. The Spokane city council voted unanimously to ask for his resignation. They are setting up a new council for the arts. the governing council of the Mormon Church He’ll have to appear before the professional conduct committee of the General Medical Council. He’s the former leader of Liverpool City Council. There are plans to establish a funding council for higher education. There’s a system of district councils and regional councils. You could apply for a grant from the Arts Council. You should visit your local training and enterprise council.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: council