The district offices are in Matlock. It was formed on 1 April 1974, originally under the name of West Derbyshire. The district adopted its current name in 1988. The district was a merger of Ashbourne, Bakewell, Matlock and Wirksworthurban districts along with Ashbourne Rural District and Bakewell Rural District.
Derbyshire Dales District Council is elected every four years, with currently 39 councillors being elected at each election. The Conservative party has had a majority on the council since 1976, apart from a four-year period between 1995 and the 1999 election when no party had a majority. As of July 2011 and after the 2011 election the council is composed of the following councillors:-