shown within West Midlands
Until the 1760s, Birmingham was administered by manorial and parish officials, most of whom served on a part-time and honorary basis. By the 1760s the population growth of Birmingham made this system completely inadequate, and salaried officials were needed. In 1768, a body of "Commissioners of the Streets" was established who had powers to levy a rate for functions such as cleaning and street lighting. They were later given powers to provide policing and build public buildings.
Birmingham gained the status of a municipal borough in 1838 and gained its first elected town council which took over the functions of the Street Commissioners. In 1889, it became a county borough (unitary authority) and a city. This remained unchanged until 1974 when Birmingham became a metropolitan district of the newly-created West Midlands county under the West Midlands County Council. The county council was abolished in 1986 and Birmingham effectively reverted to being a unitary authority although sharing some services with other authorities in the county.
Birmingham City Council is a unitary authority responsible for running nearly all local services, with the exception of those run by joint boards as detailed below. The provision of certain services has in recent years been devolved to several Districts, which each have an area committee made up of councillors from that district.
The council was run by a Labour administration between 1984 and 2004, with Sir Dick Knowles as Council Leader from 1984 to 1993, followed in turn by Theresa Stewart and Sir Albert Bore. They lost overall control in 2003 but continued to run the council as a minority administration for the following year. At the election of 10 June 2004, the 120 seats were divided between the Labour, (53 councillors), Conservative (39) and Liberal Democrat (28) parties. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups then formed a governing coalition, moving Labour into opposition.
By-elections and defections in 2005 altered the distribution of seats within the council with Labour holding 46 seats, Conservatives holding 40, Liberal Democrats holding 30, the People's Justice Party holding 2 and independent councillors holding a further 2. In 2006, the People's Justice Party disbanded, with their two councillors joining the Liberal Democrats, and Councillor Ann Holtom defected from Labour to the Liberal Democrats.
After the local elections on 1 May 2008, there remains no overall control, with the 120 seats being divided between the Conservative (49 councillors), Labour, (36), Liberal Democrat (32) parties and Respect (3).
In the 2006 local elections the British National Party initially gained a seat, but it soon transpired their candidate's election had been caused by a counting error and the result was subsequently overturned in favour of the previously third-placed Labour party candidate following an election petition.
Some local services which cover Birmingham are run jointly with the six other authorities in the West Midlands county. These county wide services are:
Birmingham first had an MP, George Fredrick Muntz, in 1840.
Birmingham's eleven parliamentary constituencies (to be reduced to ten at the next general election) are represented in the House of Commons by one Conservative, one Liberal Democrat and nine Labour MPs.
|1||Birmingham, Edgbaston||Gisela Stuart||Labour|
|2||Birmingham, Erdington||Siôn Simon||Labour|
|3||Birmingham, Hall Green||Stephen James McCabe||Labour|
|4||Birmingham, Hodge Hill||Liam Byrne||Labour|
|5||Birmingham, Ladywood||Clare Short||Labour|
|6||Birmingham, Northfield||Richard Burden||Labour|
|7||Birmingham, Perry Barr||Khalid Mahmood||Labour|
|8||Birmingham, Selly Oak||Dr Lynne Jones||Labour|
|9||Birmingham, Sparkbrook and Small Heath||Roger Godsiff||Labour|
|10||Sutton Coldfield||Andrew Mitchell||Conservative|
|11||Birmingham, Yardley||John Hemming||Lib-Dem|