In Great Britain and in the United states 

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In Great Britain and in the United states

States are societies (organized communities) that occupy large territories and provide authority, security, laws, justice, and rewards. Local authorities take many crucial decisions that affect the well-being of their community. They are responsible for providing with social services such as education, maintenance of vulnerable people, environment, public order, traffic services, providing libraries, cultural and recreational facilities. Although the United Kingdom is a unitary state, a very large part of public services are administrated by local authorities. Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own systems, which are not quite the same as that of England and Wales, though the differences are only superficial. The pattern of local government in England is complex. England is subdivided into 9 regions. One of these, London, has an elected Assembly and Mayor. Below the region level and excluding London, England has two different patterns of local government in use. In some areas there is a county council responsible for services such as education, waste management and strategic planning within a county, with several district councils responsible for services such as housing, waste collection and local planning. Below the district level, a district may be divided into several civil parishes. Typical activities undertaken by a parish council include allotments, parks, public clocks, and entering Britain in Bloom. They also have a consultative role in planning. Councils such as districts, counties and unitaries are known as principal local authorities in order to differentiate them in their legal status from parish and town councils. In some districts, the rural area is parished and the urban is not.

Local government in Scotland is organised through 32 unitary authorities, consisting of elected councillors. Community councils represent the interests of local people. Local authorities have a statutory duty to consult community councils on planning, development and other issues directly affecting that local community.

Northern Ireland is divided into 26 districts for local government purposes. Their functions include waste and recycling services, leisure and community services, building control and local economic and cultural development.

Local government in the United States is generally structured in accordance with the laws of the various individual states. Each state constitution provides for the establishment of local governmental entities. In all states, these local entities include counties and cities, but most states also provide for other types of local government, including wards, school districts, conservation districts, townships, and transportation authorities. These special types of local government have regulatory, administrative, or taxing authority as defined in the state constitution or in state law. Typically each state has at least two separate tiers: counties (known in Louisiana as parishes and as boroughs in Alaska), and municipalities. Some states have their counties divided into townships. In turn there are several different types of municipal government, generally reflecting the needs of different levels of population densities; although the types and nature of these municipal entities varies from state to state, typical examples include the city, town, borough, and village. Many rural areas and even some suburban areas of many states have no municipal government below the county level. In a few states, there is only one level of local government: Hawaii has no legal municipalities below the county level; while Connecticut and Rhode Island's counties serve no legal function—these being filled by city and town governments. In addition to the above, there are also often local or regional special districts that exist for specific purposes, such as to provide fire protection, sewer service, transit service or to manage water resources. In many states, school districts manage the schools. Such special purpose districts often encompass areas in multiple municipalities. Finally, in some places the different tiers are merged together, for example as a consolidated city-county.


Find in the text the information on

a) What kind of decisions do local authorities take?

b) The pattern of local government in England.

c) The local governmental entities in the United States.

2. Complete the following sentences according to the information from the text:

1. Local authorities take many … that affect the well-being of their …. 2. A district may be divided into several …. 3. In all states local governmental entities include …and …. 4. Each state has at least two separate tiers: counties known as … and …, and . 5. Typical municipal government examples include the …, …, …,and …. 6. Many rural areas and even some suburban areas of many states have no … below the county level. 7. In some places the different tiers are merged together, for example as ….


3. Fill in the table with the terms from the text:

Great Britain The United States
a county council, … parishes, …


4. Match the beginnings with the endings:


1. Mayor functions of county governments include   2. Elected county positions may include 3. Municipalities are     4. Cities and towns are governed 5. Many cities own or regulate   a. public utilities such as water, electric power, natural gas, and telecommunications; b. by elected officials; c. sheriff, judge, justice of the peace, medical examiner, comptroller, assessor, or prosecutor; d. incorporated cities, towns, or villages; e. recordkeeping, administration of elections, construction and maintenance of local and rural roads, zoning, building code enforcement, and law enforcement.

5. Read the extract and do the assignments:

To govern their inhabitants, states have created several levels of local government. The top level below the state is usually the county – governmental structures that are responsible for particular territorial areas. Below the level of counties, states have evolved municipal forms of government. These are cities, boroughs, towns, villages and hamlets, with cities having the most people and hamlets the least. Most of these government units are incorporated by states, that is, they are granted a state charter. Some small units, such as villages and hamlets, are unincorporated, which means that the inhabitants have not requested a charter from the state.

Forms of government vary a great deal, although most cities have a mayor or city manager, city council or board of aldermen or commissioners, and an independent judiciary that carries to the local level the separation-of-powers doctrine of the national system. Towns often have boards of supervisors usually composed of the supervisors from the villages that make up the town. These boards customarily function as both legislative and executive branches of local government. Very often major local issues, such as school budgets and taxes, are decided at town meetings, even when there are town boards. The boards usually make local laws within the restraints set by county and state governments.

From “ State and Local Government

Politics and Public Policies”

by David C. Saffell


1. Choose the answer that expresses most accurately what is described in the passage. Only one answer is correct.

a) The US local government bodies;

b) Forms of state government;

c) The functions of state governments;

d) The functions of mayors;

e) The structure of state governments.

2. Complete the following.

a) The county is responsible for ….

c) States have evolved ….

d) … are unincorporated units.

e) Most cities have a … or …, ….

f) Towns often have … that make up the town.

g) The boards usually make ….

3. Ask the questions to the passage.



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