What your different councils do

Local government, delivered by councils (local authorities) is responsible for a range of vital services for people and businesses in defined areas.

Among them are well known functions such as social care, schools, housing and planning and waste collection, but also lesser-known ones such as licensing, business support, registrar services and pest control.

Local authorities receive funding from a range of sources, including government grants, council tax and fees and charges. Together, council tax and business rates make up local authorities’ largest source of income. 

The three tiers of local government in East Sussex

  1. East Sussex County Council
  2. District, and borough councils, such as Lewes District Council and Eastbourne Borough Council
  3. Town and parish councils

In East Sussex, over 70% of council tax and business rates goes to East Sussex County Council. Around 10% goes to Lewes District Council or Eastbourne Borough Council.

Council tax and business rates also fund Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner and East Sussex Fire Authority.

A detailed breakdown of where you council tax goes is available on this page  – Where your council tax goes


East Sussex Council Council

East Sussex County Council is responsible for services across the whole of the county, these services include:

Communities, economy and transport

  • Road maintenance
  • Traffic safety
  • Waste disposal (such as Household Waste and Recycling Sites)
  • Environment
  • Passenger transport
  • Statutory plans for a better environment for future generations
  • Economic development
  • Emergency planning
  • Trading standards
  • Consumer advice
  • E-government
  • Libraries, information and the arts
  • Community planning
  • Archives and records
  • Registration of births, marriages and deaths

Children and families

  • Adoption and fostering
  • Child protection
  • Improving the prospects for vulnerable children
  • Improving behaviour in schools
  • Early years education and child care
  • Encouraging children to have a voice
  • Looking after children in care

Learning and schools effectiveness

  • Improving pupil achievement
  • Support for school head teachers
  • Improving school attendance
  • Providing school places
  • Improving school buildings
  • Adult education
  • Improving e-communication in schools
  • Home to school transport

Adult social care and health

Assessing people’s need for social care

  • Help for people to remain in their own homes
  • Home care
  • Respite care
  • Day care
  • Residential care
  • Living at home programme
  • Occupational therapy and home adaptations
  • Community safety
  • Health and well-being in the community

Lewes District and Eastbourne Borough Councils

Lewes and Eastbourne cover smaller areas within East Sussex County Council. We are responsible for services that include:

  • Anti-social behaviour, noise, and nuisance reports
  • Beach and seafront issues
  • Building control (Lewes only)
  • Business rates
  • Business grants
  • Council Tax
  • Community issues in parks and playgrounds and graffiti clearance
  • Environmental health
  • Democracy - local and general elections
  • Dogs - lost/ found dogs and attacks on other dogs 
  • Electoral registration and voting methods
  • Events
  • Food - business registration and safety
  • Grants and loans - to help with rent
  • Health and safety -business and environmental
  • Housing benefit and council tax reduction
  • Housing Benefit overpayment collection
  • Housing – including the local housing register, rent and garage rent
  • Homelessness prevention
  • Land charges
  • Licensing – taxis, alcohol, tattoo, street party etc.
  • Memorial bench maintenance and tree sponsorship
  • Open spaces – downland, parks, and public gardens
  • Public toilets
  • Playgrounds
  • Off-street car parks
  • Pest control
  • Planning and conservation applications and advice
  • Private housing – help with property issues, landlords, heating, HMO’s and disabled facilities grants
  • Sports facilities
  • Waste and recycling – including food waste, bulky item collection and fly tipping investigation.

Parish, community and town councils

These operate at a level below district and borough councils and in some cases, unitary authorities.

Information on the town and parish councils in our area can be found on this page: lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk - town and parish councils

Local councillors

Local councils, which is the most common type of local authority, are made up of councillors. 

Councillors - like other politicians such as MPs – are elected by the people in their constituency for a set term. They represent the area they live in and the interests, views and priorities of the people that voted for them - both as a whole and on an individual basis.

They will often work with local people and partners, such as local businesses and other organisations, to agree and deliver on local priorities.   

Councillors from all wards will meet at what is called ‘Cabinet’ to represent their area, but also come to a consensus on what is best for the Borough or District overall.

This means although a local Councillor may want to achieve everything their constituents are asking for, this may not be possible. Decisions must be agreed at cabinet level, where a balance must be struck by all those wanting to achieve the best for the people they represent.

This ensures that one area of the District or Borough does not consistently benefit whilst other areas don’t.

Councillors have regular contact with the public through council meetings, telephone calls or surgeries. Councillor’s contact details must be listed publicly so that those that elected them can contact them if needed. 

They will also often attend community groups and drop-in surgeries to provide an opportunity for any ward resident to go and talk their councillor face to face.

Councillors are not paid a salary for their work, but they do receive allowances. By law, all members of the council are required to complete a declaration of interest form, the details of which are published annually.

Once decisions are made at cabinet level, they are implemented by permanent council staff, council officers, who deliver services on a daily basis. These staff are employees, and not elected members who politically represent the public.

More information on who your councillors are how to contact them, and the political structure of the local authorities can be found here: 

Lewes district councillors

Eastbourne councillors

Further Information

The Local Government Association has more information on local governments, including funding, finding data on your local council and how to become a local councillor: