Council & Democracy

The Council of the Isles of Scilly was formed under the Local Government Board's Provisional Order Confirmation (No6) Act 1890, which was made under the Local Government Act 1888.

The Council was to be made up of four aldermen and 21 councillors under the chairmanship of Thomas Algernon Dorrien-Smith and first met on 2 April 1891. Twelve of the councillors had been elected from St Mary’s, 3 from Tresco, 2 from both St Martin’s and St Agnes and one from Bryher.

The Council was granted the power to deal with all aspects of the islands’ administration, and from that time onwards the islands became an administrative entity with powers equal to those of mainland county councils.

The Council of the Isles of Scilly is actually one of only two sui generis unitary authorities in the United Kingdom, the other being the City of London Corporation. This means that all other councils in England and Wales will fit into a more rigid system of unitaries, counties, parishes, city, for example, so it's clear that when legislation dictates something is to effect those genres of government it is clear as to the extent of that legislation. With Scilly and the City of London, any such application of legislation needs to be made explicit within the legislation that it is to be applied to us. 

We are the responsible authority for education, housing, waste management, fire services, highways, environmental health, planning, social services, coastal defence, promotion of economic development and emergency planning, among other things. We also own and operate St Mary’s Airport.

Our unusual status also means that some administrative law that applies in the rest of England applies in modified form in the islands.

Today, the council consists of 16 seats for elected members: 12 from St Mary’s and 1 from each of Tresco, St Martin’s, St Agnes and Bryher. Elections are held every 4 years.

You can browse the meetings of the Council by navigating the pages of this section of the website, and also the membership of Council, and other related information.