These councils' most prominent and visible services are around leisure and housing issues, though a few still have residual landlord services today. and all provide refuse collection, street cleansing and certain sports facilities.
Probably their key role, however, concerns ‘planning the built environment’. For most people this is the point at which they encounter decision-making within local government. When a resident applies for planning permission for an extension to their house or similar this is the point where the councillors can become involved. In many cases the decisions are delegated to expert and qualified staff, but councillors often become involved in making the decision, especially for large scale developments that can be contentious in local communities.
Housing remains an important service, albeit greatly diminished in scale following the enactment of Right to Buy legislation and the outsourcing of much of the remaining responsibility to Tenant Management Organisations.