|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
The pattern of local government in England is complex, with the distribution of functions varying according to the local arrangements.
Legislation concerning local government in England is decided by the Parliament and Government of the United Kingdom, because England does not have a devolved parliament or regional assemblies outside Greater London.
England has, since 1994, been subdivided into nine regions. One of these, London, has an elected Assembly and Mayor. The other regions no longer have any statutory bodies to execute any responsibilities.
Combined authorities were introduced in England outside Greater London by the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 to cover areas larger than the existing local authorities but smaller than the regions. Combined authorities are created voluntarily and allow a group of local authorities to pool appropriate responsibility and receive certain delegated functions from central government in order to deliver transport and economic policy more effectively over a wider area. There are currently 10 such authorities, with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority established on 1 April 2011, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and three others in April 2014, two in 2016, two in 2017 and one in 2018.
Below the region level and excluding London, England has two different patterns of local government in use. In some areas there is a county council responsible for services such as education, waste management and strategic planning within a county, with several non-metropolitan district councils responsible for services such as housing, waste collection and local planning. Both are principal councils and are elected in separate elections.
Some areas have only one level of local government. These are unitary authorities, which are also principal councils. Most of Greater London is governed by London borough councils. The City of London and the Isles of Scilly are sui generis authorities, pre-dating recent reforms of local government.
There are 128 'single tier' authorities, which all function as billing authorities for Council Tax and local education authorities:
There are 30 'upper tier' authorities. The non-metropolitan counties function as local education authorities:
There are 181 'lower tier' authorities, which all have the function of billing authority for Council Tax:
There are in total 332 principal councils,including the Corporation of London and the Council of the Isles of Scilly, but not the Inner Temple and Middle Temple, the last two of which are also local authorities for some purposes.
Below the district level, a district may be divided into several civil parishes. Typical activities undertaken by a parish council include allotments, parks, public clocks, and entering Britain in Bloom. They also have a consultative role in planning. Councils such as districts, counties and unitaries are known as principal local authorities in order to differentiate them in their legal status from parish and town councils, which are not uniform in their existence. Local councils tend not to exist in metropolitan areas but there is nothing to stop their establishment. For example, Birmingham has a parish, New Frankley. Parishes have not existed in Greater London since 1965, but from 2007 they could legally be created. In some districts, the rural area is parished and the urban is not – such as the Borough of Hinckley and Bosworth, where the town of Hinckley is unparished and has no local councils, while the countryside around the town is parished.In others, there is a more complex mixture, as in the case of the Borough of Kettering, where the small towns of Burton Latimer, Desborough and Rothwell are parished, while Kettering town itself is not. In addition, among the rural parishes, two share a joint parish council and two have no council but are governed by an annual parish meeting.
The current arrangement of local government in England is the result of a range of incremental measures which have their origins in the municipal reform of the 19th century. During the 20th century, the structure of local government was reformed and consolidated, with local government areas becoming fewer and larger, and the functions of local councils amended. The way local authorities are funded has also been subject to periodic and significant reform.
Councils have historically had no split between executive and legislature. Functions are vested in the council itself, and then exercised usually by committees or subcommittees of the council.
The chairman of the council itself has authority to conduct the business of meetings of the full council, including the selection of the agenda, but otherwise the chairmanship is now considered an honorary position with no real power outside the council meeting. The chairman of a borough has the title 'Mayor'. In certain cities the mayor is known as the Lord Mayor; this is an honour which must be granted by Letters Patent from the Crown. The chairman of a town council too is styled the 'town mayor'. Boroughs are in many cases descendants of municipal boroughs set up hundreds of years ago, and so have a number of traditions and ceremonial functions attached to the mayor's office.Where a council has both a civic mayor, namely the chairman of the council, and an elected mayor with executive powers, it has become usual for the chairman to take the simple title 'Chairman' or 'Chair'.
The post of Leader of the Council has been recognised. Until 2000, Leaders typically chaired important committees and received a higher allowance to reflect their additional responsibilities, but they have no special, legal authority.
Under section 15 the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, committees must so far as reasonably practicable reflect the political party makeup of the council; before that, it was permitted for a party with control of the council to 'pack' committees with its own members. This pattern was based on that established for municipal boroughs by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and then later adopted for county councils and rural districts.
In 2000, the Westminster Parliament enacted the Local Government Act 2000, requiring most councils to move to an executive-based system, either with the council leader and a cabinet acting as an executive authority, or with a directly elected mayor – with either a cabinet drawn from the councillors – or a mayor and council manager. There was a small exception to this, whereby smaller district councils (with a population of less than 85,000) could adopt a modified committee system. Most councils used the council leader and cabinet option, while 52 smaller councils were allowed to propose alternative arrangements based on the older system (Section 31 of the Act), and Brighton and Hove invoked a similar provision (Section 27(2)(b)) when a referendum to move to a directly elected mayor was defeated. In 2012, the Localism Act 2011 came into force and allowed all principal councils to return to Committee systems, but only a minority did so.
There are now fifteen directly elected mayors, in districts where a referendum was in favour of them. Several of the mayors originally elected were independents (notably in Tower Hamlets and Middlesbrough, which in parliamentary elections are usually Labour Party strongholds). Since May 2002, only a handful of referendums have been held, and they have mostly been negative, with only a few exceptions. The decision to have directly elected mayors in Hartlepool and Stoke-on-Trent were subsequently reversed when further referendums were held.
The executive where it exists, in whichever form, is held to account by the remainder of the councillors acting as the "Overview and Scrutiny function" – calling the Executive to account for their actions and to justify their future plans. In a related development, the Health and Social Care Act 2001, Police and Justice Act 2006, and 2006 local government white paper set out a role for local government Overview and Scrutiny in creating greater local accountability for a range of public-sector organisations. Committee system councils have no direct 'scrutiny' role, with the decisions being scrutinised as they are taken by the committee, and potentially referred to full council for review.
Councils may make people honorary freemen or honorary aldermen. A mayor's term of office lasts for the municipal year.
The area which a council covers is divided into one or more electoral divisions – known in district and parish councils as "wards", and in county councils as "electoral divisions". Each ward can return one or more members; multi-member wards are quite common. There is no requirement for the size of wards to be the same within a district, so one ward can return one member and another ward can return two. Metropolitan borough wards must return a multiple of three councillors, while until the Local Government Act 2003 multiple-member county electoral divisions were forbidden.
In the election, the candidates to receive the most votes win, in a system known as the multi-member plurality system. There is no element of proportional representation, so if four candidates from the Mauve Party poll 2,000 votes each, and four candidates from the Taupe Party poll 1,750 votes each, all four Mauve candidates will be returned, and no Taupe candidates will. This has been said by some to be undemocratic.
The term of a councillor is usually four years. Councils may be elected wholly, every four years, or 'by thirds', where a third of the councillors get elected each year, with one year with no elections. Recently, the 'by halves' system, whereby half of the council is elected every two years, has been allowed. Sometimes wholesale boundary revisions will mean the entire council will be re-elected, before returning to the previous elections by thirds or by halves over the coming years. Recent legislation allows a council to move from elections by thirds to all-up elections.
Often, local government elections are watched closely to detect the mood of the electorate before upcoming parliamentary elections.
Councillors cannot do the work of the council themselves, and so are responsible for appointment and oversight of officers, who are delegated to perform most tasks. Local authorities nowadays may appoint a 'Chief Executive Officer', with overall responsibility for council employees, and who operates in conjunction with department heads. The Chief Executive Officer position is weak compared to the council manager system seen in other countries. In some areas, much of the work previously undertaken directly (in direct service organisations) by council employees has been privatised.
|Arrangement||Upper tier authority||Lower tier authority|
|Non-metropolitan counties/Non-metropolitan districts||waste management, education, libraries, social services, transport, strategic planning, consumer protection, police, fire||housing, waste collection, council tax collection, local planning, licensing, cemeteries and crematoria|
|housing, waste management, waste collection, council tax collection, education, libraries, social services, transport, planning, consumer protection, licensing, cemeteries and crematoria†, police and fire come under shire councils|
|Metropolitan boroughs||housing, waste collection, council tax collection, education, libraries, social services, transport, local planning, consumer protection, licensing, police, fire, cemeteries and crematoria†|
|Greater London/London boroughs||transport, strategic planning, regional development, police, fire||housing, waste collection, council tax collection, education, libraries, social services, local planning, consumer protection, licensing, cemeteries and crematoria†|
|Combined authorities/constituent authorities||transport, economic development, regeneration & various (depends on devolution deal)||Dependent on type and combined authority arrangement|
† = in practice, some functions take place at a strategic level through joint boards and arrangements
Under the Local Government Act 2000, councils have a general power to "promote the economic, social and environmental well-being" of their areas. However, like all public bodies, they were limited by the doctrine of ultra vires , and could do only those things that common law or an Act of Parliament specifically or generally allowed for. Councils could promote Local Acts in Parliament to grant them special powers. For example, Kingston upon Hull had for many years a municipally owned telephone company, Kingston Communications.
The Localism Act 2011 introduced a new "general power of competence" for local authorities, extending the "well-being" power with the power to "do anything that individuals generally may do". This means that nothing otherwise lawful that a local authority may wish to do can be ultra vires. As of 2013 this general power of competence is available to all principal local authorities and some parish councils.However, it has not been extensively used.
"Local welfare" that gives emergency help to the poorest families in England risks collapse according to poverty campaigners. Church Action on Poverty surveyed over 150 local authority run schemes and found just under a quarter had closed since 2013 and another quarter cut spending by 85% or more. It is expected more will fold within months. 153 local authorities reduced local welfare spending by 72% on average from 2013-14 to 2017–18. They spent £46m on local welfare in the year to 2018, contrasted with £172m in 2013–14. Ending local welfare would make tens of thousands of vulnerable people increasingly at risk of hunger, debt and destitution according to Church Action on Poverty. Local welfare was devised to help poor people manage unexpected hardship, like lack of money due to benefit payment problems, or issues like broken boilers, house fires and flooding. Church Action on Poverty said that large council budget cuts meant the system was struggling to survive. Provision is subject to a postcode lottery so thousands of people cannot get emergency state funding. There are calls for local authority funding to help the poorest people in crisis to be ring fenced. Bishop David Walker said, "Local authority welfare schemes are increasingly threadbare, leaving families in many areas with nowhere to turn for help. It cannot be right for central and local government to abdicate responsibility for people in crisis when they need our help most".
Local councils are funded by a combination of central government grants, Council Tax (a locally set tax based on house value), Business Rates, and fees and charges from certain services including decriminalised parking enforcement. Up to 15 English councils risk insolvency, the National Audit Office maintains, and councils increasingly offer, "bare minimum" service.The New Local Government Network maintains most local authorities will only be able to provide the bare minimum of services five years from 2018.
Many of these funding sources are hypothecated (ring-fenced) - meaning that they can only be spent in a very specific manner - in essence, they merely pass through a council's accounts on their way from the funding source to their intended destination. These include:
The other main central government grant - the Revenue Support Grant - is not hypothecated, and can be spent as the council wishes. For many decades, Business Rates were gathered locally, pooled together nationally, and then redistributed according to a complicated formula; these would be combined with the Revenue Support Grant to form a single Formula Grant to the council. Since 2013, a varyingly sized chunk of Business Rates is retained locally, and only the remainder is pooled and redistributed; the redistribution is according to a very basic formula, based mainly on the size of the 2013 Formula Grant to the relevant council, and is now provided to the council independently of the Revenue Support Grant.
When determining their budget arrangements, councils make a distinction between hypothecated funding and non-hypothecated funding. Consideration of all funding in general is referred to as gross revenue streams, while net revenue streams refers to funding from only non-hypothecated sources.
Historically, central government retained the right to cap an increase in Council Tax, if it deemed the council to be increasing it too severely.Under the Cameron-Clegg coalition, this was changed. Councils can raise the level of council tax as they wish, but must hold a local referendum on the matter, if they wish to raise it above a certain threshold set by central government, currently 3%.
Council Tax is collected by the principal council that has the functions of a district-level authority. It is identified in legislation as a billing authority, and was known as a rating authority. There are 314 billing authorities in England that collect council tax and business rates:
Precepting authorities do not collect Council Tax directly, but instruct a billing authority to do it on their behalf by setting a precept. Major precepting authorities such as the Greater London Authority and county councils cover areas that are larger than billing authorities. Local precepting authorities such as parish councils cover areas that are smaller than billing authorities.
The precept shows up as an independent element on official information sent to council tax payers, but the council bill will cover the combined amount (the precepts plus the core council tax). The billing authority collects the whole amount, and then detaches the precept and funnels it to the relevant precepting authority.
Levying bodies are similar to precepting authorities, but instead of imposing a charge on billing authorities, the amount to be deducted is decided by negotiation. The Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is an example of a levying body. Voluntary joint arrangements, such as waste authorities are also in this category.
Aggregate External Finance (AEF) refers to the total amount of money given by central government to local government. It consists of the Revenue Support Grant (RSG), ringfenced and other specific grants, and redistributed business rates. A portion of the RSG money paid to each authority is diverted to fund organisations that provide improvement and research services to local government (this is referred to as the RSG top-slice), for example the Local Government Association.
Sizes of council areas vary widely. The most populous district in England is Birmingham (a metropolitan borough) with 1,073,045 people (2011 census), and the least populous non-metropolitan unitary area is Rutland with 37,369. [ citation needed ] Responsibility for minor revisions to local government areas falls to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. Revisions are usually undertaken to avoid borders straddling new development, to bring them back into line with a diverted watercourse, or to align them with roads or other features.However, these are outliers, and most English unitary authorities have a population in the range of 150,000 to 300,000. The smallest non-unitary district in England is Melton at 51,209 people, and the largest Northampton at 212,069. However, all but 9 non-unitary English districts have fewer than 150,000 people.
Where a district is coterminous with a town, the name is an easy choice to make. In some cases, a district is named after its main town, despite there being other towns in the district. Confusingly, such districts sometimes have city status, and so, for example, the City of Canterbury contains several towns apart from Canterbury, which have distinct identities. Similarly, the City of Winchester contains a number of large villages and extensive countryside, which is quite distinct from the main settlement of Winchester. They can be named after historic subdivisions (Broxtowe, Spelthorne), rivers (Eden, Arun), a modified or alternative version of their main town's name (Harborough, Wycombe), a combination of main town and geographical feature (Newark and Sherwood) or after a geographical feature in the district (Cotswold, Cannock Chase). A number of districts are named after former religious houses (Kirklees, Vale Royal, Waverley). Purely geographical names can also be used (South Bucks, Suffolk Coastal, North West Leicestershire). In a handful of cases entirely new names have been devised, examples being Castle Point, Thamesdown (subsequently renamed as Swindon) and Wychavon. Councils have a general power to change the name of the district, and consequently their own name, under section 74 of the Local Government Act 1972. Such a resolution must have two-thirds of the votes at a meeting convened for the purpose.
Councils of counties are called "The X County Council", whereas district councils can be 'district council', 'borough council', or 'city council' depending upon the status of the district. Unitary authorities may be called 'county council',[ citation needed ] 'borough council', 'city council', 'district council', or sometimes just 'council'. These names do not change the role or authority of the council.
Greater London is further divided into 32 London boroughs, each governed by a London borough council, and the City of London, which is governed by the City of London Corporation. In the London boroughs the legal entity is not the council as elsewhere but the inhabitants incorporated as a legal entity by royal charter (a process abolished elsewhere in England and Wales under the Local Government Act 1972). Thus, a London authority's official legal title is "The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of X" (or "The Lord Mayor and Citizens of the City of Westminster"). In common speech, however, "The London Borough of X" is used.
Metropolitan counties no longer have county councils, as these were abolished in 1986. They are divided into metropolitan districts whose councils have either the status of city council or metropolitan borough council.
Some districts are royal boroughs, but this does not affect the name of the council.
Local authorities sometimes provide services on a joint basis with other authorities, through bodies known as joint boards. Joint boards are not directly elected but are made up of councillors appointed from the authorities which are covered by the service. Typically, joint boards are created to avoid splitting up certain services when unitary authorities are created, or a county or regional council is abolished. In other cases, if several authorities are considered too small (in terms of either geographic size or population) to run a service effectively by themselves, joint boards are established. Typical services run by joint boards include policing, fire services, public transport and sometimes waste disposal authorities.
In several areas a joint police force is used which covers several counties: for example, the Thames Valley Police (in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) and the West Mercia Police (in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, Herefordshire and Worcestershire). In the six metropolitan counties, the metropolitan borough councils also appoint members to joint county-wide passenger transport authorities to oversee public transport, and joint waste disposal authorities, which were created after the county councils were abolished.
Joint boards were used extensively in Greater London when the Greater London Council was abolished, to avoid splitting up some London-wide services. These functions have now been taken over by the Greater London Authority. Similar arrangements exist in Berkshire, where the county council has been abolished. If a joint body is legally required to exist, it is known as a joint board. However, local authorities sometimes create joint bodies voluntarily and these are known as joint committees.
The City of London covers a square mile (2.6 km²) in the heart of London. It is governed by the City of London Corporation, which has a unique structure. The Corporation has been broadly untouched by local government reforms and democratisation. It has its own ancient system of 25 wards, as well as its own police service. The business vote was abolished for other parts of the country in 1969, but due to the low resident population of the City this was thought impractical. In fact, the business vote was recently[ when? ] extended in the City to cover more companies.
The Labour Government released a Local Government White Paper on 26 October 2006, Strong and Prosperous Communities, which dealt with the structure of local government.The White Paper did not deal with the issues of local government funding or of reform or replacement of the Council Tax, which was awaiting the final report of the Lyons Review. A Local Government Bill was introduced in the 2006–07 session of Parliament. The White Paper emphasised the concept of "double devolution", with more powers being granted to councils, and powers being devolved from town halls to community levels. It proposed to reduce the level of central government oversight over local authorities by removing centrally set performance targets, and statutory controls of the Secretary of State over parish councils, by-laws, and electoral arrangements.
The white paper proposed that the existing prohibition on parish councils in Greater London would be abolished, and making new parishes easier to set up. Parish councils can currently be styled parish councils, town councils or city councils: the White Paper proposes that "community council", "neighbourhood council" and "village council" may be used as well. The reforms strengthen the council executives, and provided an option between a directly elected mayor, a directly elected executive, or an indirectly elected leader – all with a fixed four-year term. These proposals were enacted under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.
A report released by the IPPR's Centre for Cities in February 2006, City Leadership: giving city regions the power to grow, proposed the creation of two large city-regions based on Manchester and Birmingham: the Birmingham one would cover the existing West Midlands metropolitan county, along with Bromsgrove, Cannock Chase, Lichfield, North Warwickshire, Redditch and Tamworth, while the Manchester one would cover the existing Greater Manchester along with the borough of Macclesfield.No firm proposals of this sort appear in the White Paper. Reportedly, this had been the subject of an internal dispute within the government.
Since the Coalition Government was elected in 2010 while the thrust of policy is to further promote localism, as within the introduction of the Localism Bill in December 2010, which became the Localism Act 2011 on receiving Royal Assent on 15 November 2011the Coalition has also declared its intention to streamline past regulation, reform planning, re-organise the police and health authorities, has abolished a whole tier of regional authorities and in its one-page Best Value Guidance. voiced its intention to repeal the Sustainable Communities Act and other New Labour commitments like the 'Duty to Involve'. It has however created the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and signalled intent, under the 'City Deals' process promoted under the Localism Act, to create further combined authorities for the North East, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire as nascent city regions. Another aspect of the Localism Act is increased opportunities for Neighbourhood Forums.
The Regional Assemblies and Regional Development Agencies were abolished in 2010 and 2012 respectively. The Local authority leaders' boards also had their funding cut in 2011, though continue as unelected consultative forums and as regional groupings for the Local Government Association.
Further consolidation of local government through the formation of unitary authorities in existing two-tier shire counties have been proposed under the premiership of Theresa May and Boris Johnson, including Dorset, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire.
The Greater London Authority (GLA), known colloquially as City Hall, is the devolved regional governance body of London, with jurisdiction over both the City of London and the ceremonial county of Greater London. It consists of two political branches: the executive Mayoralty and the 25-member London Assembly, which serves as a means of checks and balances on the former. Since May 2016, both branches have been under the control of the London Labour Party. The authority was established in 2000, following a local referendum, and derives most of its powers from the Greater London Authority Act 1999 and the Greater London Authority Act 2007.
The metropolitan counties are a type of county-level administrative division of England. There are six metropolitan counties, which each cover large urban areas, with populations between 1 and 3 million. They were created in 1974 and are each divided into several metropolitan districts or boroughs.
The subdivisions of England constitute a hierarchy of administrative divisions and non-administrative ceremonial areas.
A parish council is a civil local authority found in England and is the lowest tier of local government. They are elected corporate bodies, have variable tax raising powers, and are responsible for areas known as civil parishes, serving in total 16 million people. A parish council may decide to call itself a Town Council, Village Council, Community Council, Neighbourhood Council, or if the parish has city status, the parish council may call itself a City Council. However the powers and duties of the parish council are the same whatever name it carries.
The districts of England are a level of subnational division of England used for the purposes of local government. As the structure of local government in England is not uniform, there are currently four principal types of district-level subdivision. There are a total of 314 districts made up of 36 metropolitan boroughs, 32 London boroughs, 181 non-metropolitan districts and 58 unitary authorities, as well as the City of London and Isles of Scilly which are also districts, but do not correspond to any of these categories. Some districts are styled as cities, boroughs or royal boroughs; these are purely honorific titles and do not alter the status of the district. All boroughs and cities are led by a mayor who in most cases is a ceremonial figure elected by the district council, but—after local government reform—is occasionally a directly elected mayor who makes most of the policy decisions instead of the council.
A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district in England, and is a subdivision of a metropolitan county. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, metropolitan boroughs are defined in English law as metropolitan districts. However, all of them have been granted or regranted royal charters to give them borough status. Metropolitan boroughs have been effectively unitary authority areas since the abolition of the metropolitan county councils by the Local Government Act 1985. However, metropolitan boroughs pool much of their authority in joint boards and other arrangements that cover whole metropolitan counties, such as city regions or combined authorities.
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. 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, which were responsible for all services apart from police, education and fire.
In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties, or their combined form, the unitary authority. Civil parishes can trace their origin to the ancient system of ecclesiastical parishes which historically played a role in both civil and ecclesiastical administration; civil and religious parishes were formally split into two types in the 19th century and are now entirely separate. The unit was devised and rolled out across England in the 1860s.
A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.
Westminster City Council is the local authority for the City of Westminster in Greater London, England. It is a London borough council and is entitled to be known as a city council, which is a rare distinction in the United Kingdom. The city is divided into 20 wards, each electing three councillors. The council is currently composed of 41 Conservative Party members and 19 Labour Party members. The council was created by the London Government Act 1963 and replaced three local authorities: Paddington Metropolitan Borough Council, St Marylebone Metropolitan Borough Council and Westminster Borough Council. The present-day city council provides some shared services with Hammersmith and Fulham, and with Kensington and Chelsea.
Non-metropolitan districts, or colloquially "shire districts", are a type of local government district in England. As created, they are sub-divisions of non-metropolitan counties in a two-tier arrangement. Non-metropolitan districts with borough status are known as boroughs, able to appoint a mayor and refer to itself as a borough council.
Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties are one of the four levels of subdivisions of England used for the purposes of local government outside Greater London and the Isles of Scilly. As originally constituted, the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties each consisted of multiple districts, had a county council and were also the counties for the purposes of Lieutenancies. Later changes in legislation during the 1980s and 1990s have allowed counties without county councils and 'unitary authority' counties of a single district. Counties for the purposes of Lieutenancies are now defined separately, based on the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties.
Peterborough City Council is the local authority for Peterborough in the East of England. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. The City was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1874; from 1888, it fell within the jurisdiction of the Soke of Peterborough county council and from 1965, Huntingdon and Peterborough county council. In 1974, it was replaced by a wholly new non-metropolitan district, broadly corresponding to the Soke, in the new enlarged Cambridgeshire. In 1998, Peterborough became independent of Cambridgeshire as a unitary authority, but the city continues to form part of that county for ceremonial purposes as defined by the Lieutenancies Act 1997.
Unitary authorities of England are local authorities that are responsible for the provision of all local government services within a district. They are constituted under the Local Government Act 1992, which amended the Local Government Act 1972 to allow the existence of counties that do not have multiple districts. They typically allow large towns to have separate local authorities from the less urbanised parts of their counties and provide a single authority for small counties where division into districts would be impractical. Unitary authorities do not cover all of England. Most were established during the 1990s, though further tranches were created in 2009 and 2019–20. Unitary authorities have the powers and functions that are elsewhere separately administered by councils of non-metropolitan counties and the non-metropolitan districts within them.
The history of local government in England is one of gradual change and evolution since the Middle Ages. England has never possessed a formal written constitution, with the result that modern administration is based on precedent, and is derived from administrative powers granted to older systems, such as that of the shires.
A combined authority is a type of local government institution introduced in England outside Greater London by the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009. Combined authorities are created voluntarily and allow a group of local authorities to pool appropriate responsibility and receive certain delegated functions from central government in order to deliver transport and economic policy more effectively over a wider area.
The Localism Act 2011 is an Act of Parliament that changes the powers of local government in England. The aim of the act is to facilitate the devolution of decision-making powers from central government control to individuals and communities. The measures affected by the Act include an increase in the number of elected mayors, referendums and the "Local authority’s general power of competence" which states "A local authority has power to do anything that individuals generally may do".
Torbay Council is the local authority of Torbay in Devon, England. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. It provides a full range of local government services including Council Tax billing, libraries, social services, processing planning applications, waste collection and disposal, and it is a local education authority. The council appoints members to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority and the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel. Torbay is divided into 16 wards, electing 36 councillors. The whole council is elected every four years with the last election taking place on 2 May 2019 and the next election scheduled for 2023. The council was created by the Local Government Act 1972 and replaced the Torbay Borough Council of the County Borough of Torbay. Since 1974 Torbay has held borough status which entitles the council to be known as Torbay Borough Council, although it has not used this name since becoming a unitary authority. The council no longer has a directly elected mayor of Torbay, the post was abolished in 2019, after a referendum held in May 2016.
Cheshire West and Chester Council is the local authority of Cheshire West and Chester. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. It provides a full range of local government services including Council Tax billing, libraries, social services, processing planning applications, waste collection and disposal, and it is a local education authority. The council was first elected on 1 May 2008, a year before coming into its legal powers on 1 April 2009. After an election in May 2019, no party holds overall control.
The 2015 United Kingdom local elections were held on Thursday 7 May 2015, the same day as the general election for the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.