County borough

Last updated

County borough
CategoryBorough
Location England and Wales and Ireland
Found inCounties
Created by Local Government Act 1888
Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898
Local Government (Wales) Act 1994
Created England 1889
Wales 1889/1994
Ireland 1899
Abolished by Local Government (Boundaries) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971
Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 2001
Abolished Northern Ireland 1973 (local government)
England and Wales 1974
Ireland 2002
Number11 (as of 2008)
Possible typesLieutenancy area (2)
Principal area (9)

County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control, similar to the unitary authorities created since the 1990s. An equivalent term used in Scotland was a county of city. They were abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales, but continue in use for lieutenancy and shrievalty in Northern Ireland. In the Republic of Ireland they remain in existence but have been renamed cities under the provisions of the Local Government Act 2001. [1] The Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 re-introduced the term for certain "principal areas" in Wales. Scotland did not have county boroughs but instead had counties of cities. These were abolished on 16 May 1975. All four Scottish cities of the time—Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, and Glasgow—were included in this category. There was an additional category of large burgh in the Scottish system (similar to a municipal borough in England and Wales), which were responsible for all services apart from police, education and fire.

Contents

England and Wales

History

Initial creation

When county councils were first created in 1889, it was decided that to let them have authority over large towns or cities would be impractical, and so any large incorporated place would have the right to be a county borough, and thus independent from the administrative county it would otherwise come under. Some cities and towns were already independent counties corporate, and most were to become county boroughs. Originally ten county boroughs were proposed; Bristol, Hull, Newcastle upon Tyne and Nottingham, which were already counties, and Birmingham, Bradford, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, and Sheffield, which were not. The Local Government Act 1888 as eventually passed required a population of over 50,000 except in the case of existing counties corporate. [2] This resulted in 61 county boroughs in England and two in Wales (Cardiff and Swansea). Several exceptions were allowed, mainly for historic towns: Bath, Dudley and Oxford were all under the 50,000 limit in the 1901 census. Some of the smaller counties corporate—Berwick upon Tweed, Lichfield, Poole, Carmarthen and Haverfordwest—did not become county boroughs, although Canterbury, with a population under 25,000, did.

Growth

Various new county boroughs were constituted in the following decades as more boroughs reached the 50,000 minimum and then promoted Acts to constitute them county boroughs. The granting of county borough status was the subject of much disagreement between the large municipal boroughs and the county councils. The population limit provided county councils with a disincentive to allow mergers or boundary amendments to districts that would create authorities with large populations, as this would allow them to seek county borough status and remove the tax base from the administrative county.

County boroughs to be constituted in this era were a mixed bag, including some towns that would continue to expand such as Bournemouth and Southend-on-Sea. Other towns such as Burton upon Trent and Dewsbury were not to increase in population much past 50,000. 1913 saw the attempts of Luton and Cambridge to gain county borough status defeated in the House of Commons, despite the approval of the Local Government Board – the removal of Cambridge from Cambridgeshire would have reduced the income of Cambridgeshire County Council by over half.

Slowdown

Street nameplate on Rutland Road, Smethwick in April 2007, showing painted out "County Borough" lettering. RutlandRoadSignSmethwick.jpg
Street nameplate on Rutland Road, Smethwick in April 2007, showing painted out "County Borough" lettering.

Upon recommendation of a commission chaired by the Earl of Onslow, the population threshold was raised to 75,000 in 1926, by the Local Government (County Boroughs and Adjustments) Act 1926, which also made it much harder to expand boundaries. The threshold was raised to 100,000 by the Local Government Act 1958.

The viability of the county borough of Merthyr Tydfil came into question in the 1930s. Due to a decline in the heavy industries of the town, by 1932 more than half the male population was unemployed, resulting in very high municipal rates in order to make public assistance payments. At the same time the population of the borough was lower than when it had been created in 1908. [3] A royal commission was appointed in May 1935 to "investigate whether the existing status of Merthyr Tydfil as a county borough should be continued, and if not, what other arrangements should be made". [4] The commission reported the following November, and recommended that Merthyr should revert to the status of a non-county borough, and that public assistance should be taken over by central government. In the event county borough status was retained by the town, with the chairman of the Welsh Board of Health appointed as administrative adviser in 1936. [5]

After the Second World War the creation of new county boroughs in England and Wales was effectively suspended, pending a local government review. A government white paper published in 1945 stated that "it is expected that there will be a number of Bills for extending or creating county boroughs" and proposed the creation of a boundary commission to bring coordination to local government reform. The policy in the paper also ruled out the creation of new county boroughs in Middlesex "owing to its special problems". [6] The Local Government Boundary Commission was appointed on 26 October 1945, under the chairmanship of Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve, [7] delivering its report in 1947. [8] The commission recommended that towns with a population of 200,000 or more should become one-tier "new counties", with "new county boroughs" having a population of 60,000 – 200,000 being "most-purpose authorities", with the county council of the administrative county providing certain limited services. The report envisaged the creation of 47 two-tiered "new counties", 21 one-tiered "new counties" and 63 "new county boroughs". The recommendations of the commission extended to a review of the division of functions between different tiers of local government, and thus fell outside its terms of reference, and its report was not acted upon.

Partial reform

The next attempt at reform was by the Local Government Act 1958, which established the Local Government Commission for England and the Local Government Commission for Wales to carry out reviews of existing local government structures and recommend reforms. Although the Commissions did not complete their work before being dissolved, a handful of new county boroughs were constituted between 1964 and 1968. Luton, Torbay, and Solihull gained county borough status. Additionally, Teesside county borough was formed from the merger of the existing county borough of Middlesbrough, and the non-county boroughs of Stockton-on-Tees and Redcar; Warley was formed from the county borough of Smethwick and the non-county boroughs of Oldbury and Rowley Regis; and West Hartlepool was merged with Hartlepool. Following these changes, there was a total of 79 county boroughs in England. The Commission also recommended the downgrading of Barnsley to be a non-county borough, but this was not carried out.

Abolition

The county boroughs of East Ham, West Ham and Croydon were abolished in 1965 with the creation of Greater London and went on to form parts of London boroughs. The remaining county boroughs were abolished in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, and replaced with non-metropolitan districts and metropolitan districts, all beneath county councils in a two-tier structure. In Greater London and the metropolitan counties the lower tier districts retained a wider range of powers than in the non-metropolitan counties.

Revival

This situation did not persist long. In 1986 the metropolitan county councils and the Greater London Council were abolished, returning the metropolitan boroughs to a status equivalent to the former county boroughs, but sharing some powers (police and transport for example). In the 1990s, many of the nonmetropolitan former county boroughs were reformed again as unitary authorities – essentially the same as a county borough. As a result, by 2015, most former county boroughs were either metropolitan boroughs or unitary authorities with a status similar to the old county boroughs. In England, most of those former county boroughs that did not gain unitary authority status—Barrow-in-Furness, Burnley, Canterbury, Carlisle, Chester, Eastbourne, Gloucester, Great Yarmouth, Hastings, Ipswich, Lincoln, Northampton, Norwich, Oxford, Preston, and Worcester—have given their names to non-unitary local government districts (in some cases coterminous with the old county borough, in other cases much larger). Burton upon Trent became an unparished area in the East Staffordshire borough, and has now been divided into several parishes.

In Wales, several principal areas are county boroughs: [9]

For all practical purposes, county boroughs are exactly the same as the other principal areas of Wales called " counties " (including "cities and counties") as all these areas are run by unitary authorities (i.e.: have the functions of both boroughs and counties). Although unitary authorities are functionally equivalent to county boroughs, only in Wales is the title given official recognition by Act of Parliament. [9]

English county boroughs in 1973

England County Boroughs 1974.png

The map depicts the county boroughs in England immediately prior to their abolition in 1974. County boroughs in Wales and Northern Ireland are not shown.

This table shows those county boroughs that existed in England and Wales between the Local Government Acts of 1888 (that created them) and 1972 (that abolished them from 1974).

County boroughFromAssociated county1971 census popSuccessors in 1974
Barnsley 1913 Yorkshire, West Riding 75,439 Barnsley MB (part) South Yorkshire
Barrow-in-Furness 1889 Lancashire 64,039 Barrow (part) Cumbria
Bath 1889 Somerset 84,686Bath Avon
Birkenhead 1889 Cheshire 137,889 Wirral MB (part) Merseyside
Birmingham 1889 Warwickshire 1,014,773Birmingham MD (part) West Midlands
Blackburn 1889Lancashire101,802 Blackburn (part) Lancashire
Blackpool 1904Lancashire151,871Blackpool Lancashire
Bolton 1889Lancashire154,223 Bolton MB (part) Greater Manchester
Bootle 1889Lancashire74,304 Sefton MB (part) Merseyside
Bournemouth 1900 Hampshire 153,861Bournemouth Dorset
Bradford 1889Yorkshire, West Riding294,164 Bradford MB (part) West Yorkshire
Brighton 1889Sussex161,350Brighton East Sussex
Bristol 1889 Gloucestershire [lower-alpha 1] 426,653Bristol Avon
Burnley 1889Lancashire76,489 Burnley (part) Lancashire
Burton upon Trent 1901Staffordshire50,211 East Staffordshire (part) [lower-alpha 2] Staffordshire
Bury 1889Lancashire67,870 Bury MB (part) Greater Manchester
Canterbury 1889Kent [lower-alpha 1] 33,155 Canterbury (part) Kent
Cardiff 1889 Glamorgan 279,046 Cardiff (part) South Glamorgan
Carlisle 1915 Cumberland 71,580 Carlisle (part) Cumbria
Chester 1889Cheshire [lower-alpha 1] 62,923 Chester (part) Cheshire
Coventry 1889Warwickshire335,260Coventry MB (part) West Midlands
Darlington 1915 Durham 85,916 Darlington (part) Durham
Derby 1889Derbyshire219,578Derby Derbyshire
Dewsbury 1913Yorkshire, West Riding51,354 Kirklees MB (part) West Yorkshire
Doncaster 1927Yorkshire, West Riding82,671 Doncaster MB (part) South Yorkshire
Dudley 1889Worcestershire to 1966
then Staffordshire
185,592 Dudley MB (part) West Midlands
Eastbourne 1911Sussex70,949Eastbourne East Sussex
Exeter 1889Devon [lower-alpha 1] 95,711Exeter Devon
Gateshead 1889Durham94,464 Gateshead MB (part) Tyne and Wear
Gloucester 1889 Gloucestershire [lower-alpha 1] 90,223Gloucester Gloucestershire
Grimsby 1891 Lincolnshire 95,502Grimsby Humberside
Halifax 1889Yorkshire, West Riding91,263 Calderdale MB (part) West Yorkshire
Hartlepool 1967Durham97,082 Hartlepool (part) Cleveland
Hastings 1889Sussex72,414Hastings East Sussex
Huddersfield 1889Yorkshire, West Riding131,188 Kirklees MB (part) West Yorkshire
Ipswich 1889Suffolk123,297Ipswich Suffolk
Kingston upon Hull 1889 Yorkshire, East Riding [lower-alpha 1] 285,965Kingston upon Hull Humberside
Leeds 1889Yorkshire, West Riding496,036 Leeds MB (part) West Yorkshire
Leicester 1889 Leicestershire 284,208Leicester Leicestershire
Lincoln 1889Lincolnshire [lower-alpha 1] 77,077 (1961)Lincoln Lincolnshire
Liverpool 1889Lancashire610,114Liverpool Merseyside
Luton 1964Bedfordshire161,400Luton Bedfordshire
Manchester 1889Lancashire543,741Manchester MB (part) Greater Manchester
Merthyr Tydfil 1908Glamorgan55,283Merthyr Tydfil Mid Glamorgan
Newcastle upon Tyne 1889 Northumberland [lower-alpha 1] 222,172Newcastle upon Tyne MB (part) Tyne and Wear
Newport 1891 Monmouthshire 112,298 Newport Gwent
Northampton 1889 Northamptonshire 126,597Northampton (part) Northamptonshire
Nottingham 1889 Nottinghamshire [lower-alpha 1] 300,675Nottingham Nottinghamshire
Norwich 1889 Norfolk [lower-alpha 1] 122,093Norwich Norfolk
Oldham 1889Lancashire105,922 Oldham MB (part) Greater Manchester
Oxford 1889 Oxfordshire 108,834Oxford Oxfordshire
Plymouth 1889Devon239,467Plymouth Devon
Portsmouth 1889Hampshire197,453Portsmouth Hampshire
Preston 1889Lancashire98,091Preston (part) Lancashire
Reading 1889 Berkshire 132,978Reading Berkshire
Rochdale 1889Lancashire91,461 Rochdale MB (part) Greater Manchester
Rotherham 1902Yorkshire, West Riding84,800 Rotherham MB (part) South Yorkshire
St Helens 1889Lancashire104,326 St Helens MB (part) Merseyside
Salford 1889Lancashire131,006 Salford MB (part) Greater Manchester
Sheffield 1889Yorkshire, West Riding520,308 Sheffield MB (part) South Yorkshire
Solihull 1964Warwickshire107,086 Solihull MB (part) West Midlands
Southampton 1889Hampshire [lower-alpha 1] 215,131Southampton Hampshire
Southend-on-Sea 1914Essex162,735Southend-on-Sea Essex
Southport 1905Lancashire84,524 Sefton MB (part) Merseyside
South Shields 1889Durham100,676 South Tyneside MB (part) Tyne and Wear
Stockport 1889Cheshire139,598 Stockport MB (part) Greater Manchester
Stoke on Trent 1910Staffordshire265,258Stoke-on-Trent Staffordshire
Sunderland 1889Durham217,075 Sunderland MB (part) Tyne and Wear
Swansea 1889Glamorgan173,355 Swansea (part) West Glamorgan
Teesside 1968Yorkshire, North Riding396,233 Middlesbrough (part)
Stockton (part)
Langbaurgh (part)
Cleveland
Torbay 1968Devon109,260Torbay Devon
Tynemouth 1904Northumberland69,339 North Tyneside MB (part) Tyne and Wear
Wakefield 1915Yorkshire, West Riding59,591 Wakefield MB (part) West Yorkshire
Wallasey 1913Cheshire97,216 Wirral MB (part) Merseyside
Walsall 1889Staffordshire184,734 Walsall MB (part) West Midlands
Warley 1966Worcestershire163,567 Sandwell MB (part) West Midlands
Warrington 1900Lancashire68,322Warrington (part) Cheshire
West Bromwich 1889Staffordshire166,592 Sandwell MB (part) West Midlands
Wigan 1889Lancashire81,144 Wigan MB (part) Greater Manchester
Wolverhampton 1889Staffordshire269,112Wolverhampton MB West Midlands
Worcester 1889Worcestershire [lower-alpha 1] 73,454 Worcester (part) Hereford and Worcester
Yarmouth 1889Norfolk50,236 Great Yarmouth (part) Norfolk
York 1889Yorkshire, West Riding [lower-alpha 1] 104,783York North Yorkshire
  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 These boroughs were counties corporate and were separate from the associated county for certain largely ceremonial purposes, principally shrievalty and administration of justice. [10]
  2. This county borough had charter trustees.

Only four districts with more than one county borough were formed: Wirral, Sandwell, Sefton and Kirklees. Elsewhere, county boroughs usually formed the core or all of a district named after the county borough – with the exceptions of Halifax, whose metropolitan district was named Calderdale, Burton upon Trent, which became part of the East Staffordshire district, and Teesside, which was split up between three non-metropolitan districts.

Previous county boroughs

County boroughs to be abolished prior to 1974 were:

County boroughCountyCreatedAbolishedSuccessor
Croydon Surrey 18891965Greater London: London Borough of Croydon
Devonport Devon 18891914 County Borough of Plymouth
East Ham Essex 19151965Greater London: London Borough of Newham
Hanley Staffordshire 18891910 County Borough of Stoke on Trent
Middlesbrough Yorkshire, North Riding 18891968 County Borough of Teesside
Smethwick Staffordshire19071966 County Borough of Warley
West Ham Essex18891965Greater London: London Borough of Newham
West Hartlepool Durham 19021967 County Borough of Hartlepool
Lincoln Lincolnshire 18901974? Lincolnshire county council

Northern Ireland

The county boroughs of Belfast and Derry were created by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898.

In Northern Ireland, local government has not used county boroughs since 1973, but they remain in use for lieutenancy.

For administrative purposes the two county boroughs in Northern Ireland were replaced with two larger districts (Belfast and Londonderry).

Republic of Ireland

The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 created county boroughs in Ireland. Under the Act, four former counties corporate (Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford) became county boroughs.

Galway became a county borough in 1986.

In the Republic of Ireland, the relevant legislation remained in force (although amended), and county boroughs on the original model existed until 2001. Under the Local Government Act 2001 (which replaced most existing local government legislation in Ireland), the term "County Borough" was abolished and replaced with "City" (and hence, "Corporation" with "City Council"). However Kilkenny, while a traditional city, was never a county borough. Under the Local Government Reform Act 2014, the borough of Kilkenny was abolished, but the municipal district containing the administrative area of the former borough of Kilkenny would be known as the Municipal District of Kilkenny City.

See also

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References

  1. Local Government Act, 2001, with particular reference to section 10 (2) and 10 (4) (b). http://www.environ.ie/en/LocalGovernment/LocalGovernmentAdministration/RHLegislation/FileDownLoad,1963,en.pdf Archived 20 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Local Government Act 1888, s.31
  3. Census data on population of Merthyr Tydfil
  4. "No. 34159". The London Gazette . 1 May 1935. p. 3041.
  5. Report of the Royal Commission on the status of the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil (Cmd.5039)
  6. Local government in England and Wales during the period of reconstruction (Cmd.6579)
  7. "No. 37325". The London Gazette . 26 October 1945. p. 5238.
  8. Report of the Local Government Boundary Commission for the year 1947
  9. 1 2 Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, Schedule 1, Part II
  10. Arnold-Baker, Charles (2001). The Companion to British History (2 ed.). Routledge. p. 368. ISBN   9780415185837.