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|Metropolitan and non-metropolitan county|
|Created by||Local Government Act 1972|
|Number||83 (as of 1 April 2021)|
|This article is part of a series within UK politics on the|
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 resulted in counties with no county council and 'unitary authority' counties with no districts. Counties for the purposes of Lieutenancies are now defined separately, based on the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties.
In 2009 and 2019, there were further structural changes in some areas, resulting in a total of 83 metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties. These 83 counties collectively consist of 283 districts or district-level subdivisions, i.e. 36 metropolitan boroughs and 247 non-metropolitan districts.
The metropolitan counties are Greater Manchester, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands and West Yorkshire. The counties typically have populations of 1.2 to 2.8 million.
The county councils of these were abolished in 1986, but the counties themselves still exist legally.They are used for some administrative and geographic purposes, and are still ceremonial counties. Most of the powers that the former county councils had were devolved to their metropolitan boroughs, which are now in effect unitary authorities; however, some functions (such as emergency services, civil defence and public transport) are still run jointly on a metropolitan-county-wide basis.
The unofficial term "shire county" is sometimes used to refer to a two-tier non-metropolitan county, that is, a non-metropolitan county that has more than one district.[ citation needed ] Its name does not need to have "shire" in it.
There are 24 such counties:
Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Sussex, Worcestershire.
All have county councils. This definition of "shire county" excludes Berkshire because it has no county council. The counties are less urbanised and have populations of 109,000 to 1.4 million.Under local government reforms coming into effect in 2009, the number of such counties was reduced. The non-metropolitan counties of Bedfordshire and Cheshire were each split into two separate non-metropolitan counties, while Cornwall, County Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire became unitary authorities.
Unitary authorities are areas with only one council, and there are 58 in total.
52 are coterminous with a non-metropolitan county, 43 of which are defined as counties with a single district council and no county council: Bath and North East Somerset, Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Central Bedfordshire, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Darlington, Derby, East Riding of Yorkshire, Halton, Hartlepool, Kingston upon Hull, Leicester, Luton, Medway, Middlesbrough, Borough of Milton Keynes, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North Northamptonshire, North Somerset, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Redcar and Cleveland, Rutland, South Gloucestershire, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Telford and Wrekin, Thurrock, Torbay, Warrington, West Northamptonshire, York. The other 9 are technically counties with a county council and no district councils, but the effect is the same: Buckinghamshire, Isle of Wight, Cornwall, Dorset, Durham, Herefordshire, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire
The remaining 6 unitary authorities (West Berkshire, Reading, Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Windsor and Maidenhead, Slough) form Berkshire, however they are not non-metropolitan counties, as the non-metropolitan county of Berkshire still exists albeit without a county council; this is a unique situation.
The Local Government Act 1972 created the system of metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties and districts, but specifically excluded two parts of England from the new system, a situation which exists to the present.
Greater London was created in 1965 by the London Government Act 1963 as a sui generis administrative area,with the Greater London Council functioning as an upper-tier local government. It consists of 33 local authority districts and spans the area which was prior made up of the County of London, most of Middlesex, and parts of other neighbouring administrative counties. In 1972, no metropolitan or non-metropolitan counties or districts were created in this area. However, the council was abolished along with the metropolitan county councils in 1986.
In 1994, Greater London was designated as one of nine regions of England, each of which had a government office up until they were abolished 2011. Since 2000, Greater London has had an elected Assembly and Mayor responsible for strategic local government. In the other eight regions, plans for elected assemblies were abandoned (although they had regional chambers with limited functions between 1999 and 2010), leaving London as the only region with a conterminous authority.
The area does however include two counties for the purposes of lieutenancies: the county of Greater London (which covers the 32 London boroughs) and the City of London.
The Isles of Scilly are, like Greater London, not covered by the system of metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties. The Council of the Isles of Scilly remains a district council (constituted in 1890, by way of the Local Government Act 1888) with county council powers (granted by the Isles of Scilly Order 1930) and is therefore a sui generis unitary authority. Some functions, such as health and economic development, are shared with Cornwall Council, and the islands form part of the ceremonial county of Cornwall.
The current system of metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties came into effect on 1 April 1974 and replaced the administrative counties and county boroughs, which were abolished at that time. Greater London was created in 1965 under separate legislation, which also led to small parts of Middlesex transferred to Surrey and Hertfordshire.
In the 1990s, a new type of non-metropolitan county was created: the unitary authority, which combines the functions and powers of county and district. The existing non-metropolitan counties became known as shire counties to distinguish them from the unitary authorities.
By the late 1960s, it had become obvious that the structure of local government in England and Wales needed reforming. Harold Wilson's Labour government set up the Redcliffe-Maud Commission to produce proposals for wholesale reform.
The report proposed that for most of England the two-tier structure be abolished, and replaced with a system of 58 unitary authorities, which would generally ignore the previous administrative boundaries in favour of changes that made geographic sense - a total redrawing of the map. In the South of Lancashire, North East of Cheshire and the Birmingham area, there would be 3 metropolitan areas, with 20 district authorities.
These proposals were opposed by the Conservative Party opposition led by Edward Heath. They won the 1970 general election, and set to work defining their own scheme. This scrapped the concept of unitary authorities (even for existing county boroughs) – the entire area of England and Wales was to be divided into uniform counties and districts. In England the new divisions were to be largely modelled on the existing counties with quite radical reforms put forward, even in some non-metropolitan areas.
Despite reassurances from the government that nobody's loyalties were expected to change as a result of the local government reform, many changes did incur significant local opposition. Most of the radical changes were withdrawn. One aspect the government stood firm on was the mergers of small counties. Campaigns for the continuation of Rutland and Herefordshire were unsuccessful, although due to its special geographic circumstances, the Isle of Wight was permitted to retain a separate county council, as opposed to being reunified with its historic county of Hampshire.
The Local Government Act was passed in 1972, and defined the English counties and metropolitan districts, but not the non-metropolitan districts. These were set by a Boundary Commission that had already begun work.
The metropolitan counties were composed as follows:
Other significant changes were:
The changes were adopted by the Royal Mail for the purposes of postal addresses wherever they were able, with the notable exceptions of Hereford and Worcester and Greater Manchester. Humberside was divided for this purpose into North Humberside and South Humberside.
|Counties of England from 1974 to 1996|
In 1986, the county councils of the metropolitan counties and the Greater London Council were abolished by Margaret Thatcher's government following disputes with central government, but the counties themselves remained legally in existence.
The 1990s led to the restoration of county boroughs under a new name, unitary authorities, which radically changed the administrative map of England. The changes were carried out in several waves.
On 1 April 1995, the Isle of Wight became a single unitary authority. It had previously had a two-tier structure with an Isle of Wight County Council, Medina Borough Council and South Wight Borough Council. Also on this day, two small areas were ceded from Surrey and Buckinghamshire to Berkshire, giving it a border with Greater London.
On 1 April 1996, the unpopular[ why? ] counties of Avon, Humberside and Cleveland were abolished and their former area divided into unitary districts. Also at this time, the city of York was expanded and separated from North Yorkshire.
On 1 April 1997, the districts of Bournemouth, Darlington, Derby, Leicester, Luton, Milton Keynes, Poole, Portsmouth, Rutland, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Swindon (based on the former Thamesdown district) became unitary authorities. Also, the districts of Brighton and Hove were merged to form the new unitary authority of Brighton and Hove.
On 1 April 1998, Blackburn with Darwen (based on the former Blackburn district), Blackpool, Halton, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Southend-on-Sea, Telford and Wrekin (based on the former Wrekin district), Torbay, Thurrock and Warrington became unitary authorities. Also, the districts of Rochester-upon-Medway and Gillingham were merged to form the new unitary authority of Medway, and the county of Hereford and Worcester was abolished and replaced by the unitary authority of Herefordshire and the shire county of Worcestershire. Berkshire was split into six unitary authorities, but not formally abolished.
In April 2009, the following changes were made to the non-metropolitan counties:
|Borough of Bedford||District became a non-metropolitan county|
|Central Bedfordshire||New non-metropolitan county|
|Cheshire East||New non-metropolitan county|
|Cheshire West and Chester||New non-metropolitan county|
The effect was that Bedfordshire and Cheshire became ceremonial counties that do not correspond to a non-metropolitan county of the same name.
Since 2019, the following changes have been made to the non-metropolitan counties:
|Bournemouth||Abolished||1 April 2019|
|Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole||New unitary authority area formed by merging three districts|
|Dorset||One district abolished and absorbed into the new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole; all others abolished and their powers acquired by the non-metropolitan county (thus becoming a unitary authority area)|
|Somerset||Two districts merged|
|Suffolk||Two pairs of districts merged|
|Buckinghamshire||All districts abolished and their powers acquired by the non-metropolitan county (thus becoming a unitary authority area)||1 April 2020|
|Northamptonshire||Abolished, along with all its districts||1 April 2021|
|North Northamptonshire||New unitary authority area formed by merging four districts|
|West Northamptonshire||New unitary authority area formed by merging three districts|
The following changes have been made by legislation but are not yet fully implemented:
|Non-metropolitan county||Action||Implementation date|
|Cumbria||To be abolished along with all its districts||April 2023|
|Cumberland||New unitary authority area formed by merging three districts|
|Westmorland and Furness||New unitary authority area formed by merging three districts|
|North Yorkshire||All districts to be abolished and their powers acquired by the non-metropolitan county (thus becoming a unitary authority area)|
|Somerset||All districts to be abolished and their powers acquired by the non-metropolitan county (thus becoming a unitary authority area)|
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. With the abolition of metropolitan county councils in 1986, with most of their functions being devolved to the metropolitan boroughs, making the boroughs effectively unitary authorities, metropolitan counties no longer form a part of local government in England. Any remaining functions were taken over by joint boards.
The subdivisions of England constitute a hierarchy of administrative divisions and non-administrative ceremonial areas.
Humberside was a non-metropolitan and ceremonial county in Northern England from 1 April 1974 until 1 April 1996. It was composed of land from either side of the Humber Estuary, created from portions of the East Riding of Yorkshire, West Riding of Yorkshire, and the northern part of Lindsey, Lincolnshire. The county council's headquarters was County Hall at Beverley, inherited from East Riding County Council. Its largest settlement and only city was Kingston upon Hull. Other notable towns included Goole, Beverley, Scunthorpe, Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Bridlington. The county stretched from Wold Newton in its northern tip to a different Wold Newton at its most southern point.
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 309 districts made up of 36 metropolitan boroughs, 32 London boroughs, 181 two-tier 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 or the powers of their councils. 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.
The counties of England are areas used for different purposes, which include administrative, geographical, cultural and political demarcation. The term "county" is defined in several ways and can apply to similar or the same areas used by each of these demarcation structures. These different types of county each have a more formal name but are commonly referred to just as "counties". The current arrangement is the result of incremental reform.
The counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies, also referred to as the lieutenancy areas of England and informally known as ceremonial counties, are areas of England to which lords-lieutenant are appointed. Legally, the areas in England, as well as in Wales and Scotland, are defined by the Lieutenancies Act 1997 as "counties and areas for the purposes of the lieutenancies in Great Britain", in contrast to the areas used for local government. They are also informally known as "geographic counties", to distinguish them from other types of counties of England.
The Parts of Lindsey are a traditional division of Lincolnshire, England, covering the northern part of the county. The Isle of Axholme, which is on the west side of the River Trent, has normally formed part of it. The district's name originated from the Kingdom of Lindsey of Anglo-Saxon times, whose territories were merged with that of Stamford to form Lincolnshire.
Glanford was, from 1974 to 1996, a local government district with borough status in the non-metropolitan county of Humberside, England.
The Local Government Act 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales on 1 April 1974. It was one of the most significant Acts of Parliament to be passed by the Heath Government of 1970–74.
A non-metropolitan county, or colloquially, shire county, is a county-level entity in England that is not a metropolitan county. The counties typically have populations of 300,000 to 1.8 million. The term shire county is, however, an unofficial usage. Many of the non-metropolitan counties bear historic names and most, such as Wiltshire and Staffordshire, end in the suffix "-shire". Of the remainder, some counties had the "-shire" ending but have lost it over time, such as Devon and Somerset.
CountyWatch is a direct action group in the United Kingdom that was set up in 2004 to remove what they consider to be wrongly placed county boundary signs – i.e. signs that do not mark the historic or ancient county boundaries of England and Wales. Since 2005, Count Nikolai Tolstoy has been a patron of CountyWatch. CountyWatch and its supporters claim to have removed, re-sited or erected 80 county boundary signs in Dorset, County Durham, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire, Somerset and Warwickshire.
The unitary authorities of England are those local authorities which 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 originally provided a single authority for small counties where division into districts would be impractical. However the government has more recently proposed the formation of much larger unitary authorities, including a single authority for North Yorkshire, the largest non-metropolitan county in England, at present divided into seven districts.
The Local Government Commission for England was the body responsible for reviewing the structure of local government in England from 1992 to 2002. It was established under the Local Government Act 1992, replacing the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. The Commission could be ordered by the Secretary of State to undertake "structural reviews" in specified areas and recommend the creation of unitary authorities in the two-tier shire counties of England. The Commission, chaired by John Banham, conducted a review of all the non-metropolitan counties of England from 1993 to 1994, making various recommendations on their future.
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.
The history of local government in Yorkshire is unique and complex. Yorkshire is the largest historic English county and consists of a diverse mix of urban and rural development with a heritage in agriculture, manufacturing, and mining. After a long period with little change, it has been subject to a number of reforms of local government structures in modern times, some of which were controversial. The most significant of these were the Local Government Act 1972 and the 1990s UK local government reform. The historic area currently corresponds to several counties and districts and is mostly contained within the Yorkshire and the Humber region.
Administrative counties were subnational divisions of England used for local government from 1889 to 1974. They were created by the Local Government Act 1888, which established an elected county council for each area. Some geographically large historic counties were divided into several administrative counties, each with its own county council. The administrative counties operated until 1974, when they were replaced by a system of metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties under the Local Government Act 1972.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) was the statutory body established under the Local Government Act 1972 to settle the boundaries, names and electoral arrangements of the non-metropolitan districts which came into existence in 1974, and for their periodic review. The stated purpose of the LGBCE was to ensure "that the whole system does not get frozen into the form which has been adopted as appropriate in the 1970s". In the event it made no major changes and was replaced in 1992 by the Local Government Commission for England.
Structural changes to local government in England have taken place between 2019 and 2021, and will potentially continue in 2023. Some of these changes continue the trend of new unitary authorities being created from other types of local government districts, which was a policy of Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick from 2019. Ceremonial counties will not see any changes to their boundaries, as the Lieutenancies Act 1997 will be amended to reflect the new local government areas that comprise them.