The thirty-two London boroughs in England
|Created by||London Government Act 1963|
|Created||1 April 1965|
|Number||32 (as of 2013)|
|Possible types||Inner London (12)
Outer London (20)
|Possible status||City (1)
Royal borough (3)
|Government||London borough council (32)|
London boroughs or London Boroughs are 32 of the 33 subdivisions of Greater London for local services having London Borough Councils, their most-purposes local authorities; the subdivision which is not a borough is the City of London, often treated as a borough for practical purposes. The Boroughs were created at the same time as Greater London on 1 April 1965[notes 1] and have populations of around 150,000 to 300,000, which is equivalent to a typical English city.
London borough councils provide the vast majority of local government services leaving overall directional policies (such as on planning, transport and infrastructure) and a small remainder provided by the Greater London Authority including the Mayor of London.
Each borough is divided into population-equalised London electoral wards, as with the rest of the England's wards revised every 8 to 12 years by the Boundary Commission for England, for the purpose of electing councillors. More wards than the national average have the typical three councillors, with very few one- and two-member wards which are drawn up in some very low density areas. Council elections take place every four years. The London local elections, 2014 produced 20 councils with Labour-majority administrations, 10 with Conservative or Liberal Democrat majority administrations and the remaining two where any working majority requires cross-party cooperation, traditionally known as 'no overall control'. Their detailed composition has changed by a few by-elections. The next elections will take place in 2018.
Twenty-eight councils use the appointed Leader and cabinet system, electors of the other four boroughs publicly choose their council leader, a directly elected Mayor: in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets, where accordingly two ballots are held together.
The London boroughs were created by combining whole former units of local government and a review undertaken between 1987 and 1992 led to a number of relatively small alterations in borough boundaries.
Twelve Inner London boroughs represented the pre-1965 County of London, the education department of which was the direct successor to the London School Board established in 1870 and so Parliament retained the Inner London Education Authority until 1990, since which time the term Inner London has been used to represent varying sets of inner and outer London boroughs.
From the mid-1930s, the Greater London area comprised four types of local government authorities. There were county boroughs, municipal boroughs, urban districts and metropolitan boroughs. The large county boroughs provided all local government services and held the powers usually invested in county councils. The municipal borough and urban district authorities had fewer powers. The situation was made more complex because county councils could delegate functions such as elementary education and library provision to the municipal borough and district councils, and this was implemented piecemeal. Reform of London local government sought to regularise this arrangement.
The Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London was established in 1957 and the report was published on 19 October 1960. It proposed 52 "Greater London Boroughs" with a population range of 100,000 to 250,000. This was made up of a mixture of whole existing units, mergers of two or three areas, and two boroughs formed as the result of a split. In December 1961 the government proposed that there would be 34 boroughs rather than 52, and detailed their boundaries. The proposed number was further reduced to 32 in 1962.
On 1 April 1965, the 32 London boroughs and Greater London were created by the London Government Act 1963. 12 boroughs in the former County of London area were designated Inner London boroughs and the 20 others were designated Outer London boroughs. Outer London borough councils were local education authorities, but Inner London borough councils were so designated primarily to continue the existence of an Inner London Education Authority, praised by official Opposition and government who further noted that unusually the former County of London's many small local authorities had no history of providing education. The City of London continued to be administered by the City of London Corporation and the Inner and Middle Temples.[notes 2]
Elections were held on 7 May 1964, with the new councils acting as shadow authorities before coming into their powers the following year.
The boroughs were created as follows. Some relatively minor changes have been made to the boundaries of boroughs since 1965, and two have changed their names.
Greater London Council
Between 1965 and 1986 the boroughs were part of a two-tier system of government and shared power with the Greater London Council (GLC). The split of powers and functions meant that the Greater London Council was responsible for "wide area" services such as fire, ambulance, flood prevention, and refuse disposal; with the London borough councils responsible for "personal" services such as social care, libraries, cemeteries and refuse collection. Several London borough councils and the GLC were involved in the rate-capping rebellion of 1985. On 1 April 1986 the GLC was abolished and the borough councils gained responsibility for some services that had been provided by the Greater London Council, such as waste disposal. The Inner London Education Authority continued to exist as an ad hoc authority. In 1990 it was abolished and the Inner London borough councils also became local education authorities.
Name and boundary changes
The Local Government Act 1972 provided a mechanism for the name of a London borough and its council to be changed. This right was taken up by the London Borough of Hammersmith (changed to Hammersmith and Fulham) on 1 April 1979 and the London Borough of Barking (changed to Barking and Dagenham) on 1 January 1980. Borough names formed by combining two locality names had been discouraged when the boroughs were created.
The London boroughs were created by combining whole existing units of local government and it was anticipated that this might provide arbitrary boundaries in some places. The London Government Act 1963 provided a mechanism for communities on the edge of Greater London to petition for transfer from London boroughs to a neighbouring county district. These were completed in 1969 as the transfers of Knockholt in Bromley to Kent, and of Farleigh and Hooley in Croydon to Surrey. The act also allowed for transfers between London boroughs and neighbouring counties where there was consensus for the change between all the relevant local authorities. This power was used to exchange two islands on the River Thames between Richmond upon Thames and Surrey.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England was established by the Local Government Act 1972 to review periodically the boundaries of Greater London and the London boroughs. The first review of boundaries commenced on 1 April 1987 and reported in 1992. Following the review a series of relatively minor adjustments were made to borough boundaries, for example uniting the whole of the Becontree estate in Barking and Dagenham. The commission noted that many of its recommendations were strongly opposed and were not implemented. The boundary of the City of London with adjacent boroughs was adjusted to remove some anomalies.
Greater London Authority
In 2000 the Greater London Authority was created, comprising the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. As a strategic authority, it absorbed only limited powers, such as major highways and planning strategy, from the borough councils.
London borough councils
The London boroughs are administered by London borough councils (sometimes abbreviated LBCs) which are elected every four years. They are the principal local authorities in London and are responsible for running most local services, such as schools, social services, waste collection and roads. Some London-wide services are run by the Greater London Authority, and some services and lobbying of government are pooled within London Councils. Some councils group together for services such as waste collection and disposal (e.g., the West London Waste Authority). The boroughs are local government districts and have similar functions to metropolitan boroughs. Each borough council is a local education authority.
|Service||Greater London Authority||London borough councils|
|Leisure and recreation|
Shared services are borough council services shared between two or more boroughs. Shared services were previously resisted due to councils jealously guarding their authority. However, as the need for budget cuts in the late 2000s became apparent some councils have sought service mergers. Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham will merge their education services, including school admissions and transport by 2011. In October 2010, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster announced plans to merge all their services to create a "super-council". Each would retain its own political identity, leadership and councillors but staff and budgets would be combined for cost savings. Lambeth and Southwark likewise expressed an interest in sharing services.
The management thinker and inventor of The Vanguard Method, Professor John Seddon, claims that shared service projects based on attempts to achieve 'economies of scale' are a mix of a) the plausibly obvious and b) a little hard data, brought together to produce two broad assertions, for which there is little hard factual evidence. He argues that shared service projects fail (and often end up costing more than they hoped to save) because they cause a disruption to the service flow by moving the work to a central location, creating waste in handoffs, rework and duplication, lengthening the time it takes to deliver a service and consequently creating failure demand (demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for a customer).
Seddon referred directly to the so-called tri-borough shared services in a recent article.
List of boroughs
- ISO 3166-2:GB, subdivision codes for the United Kingdom
- Political make-up of London borough councils
- by the London Government Act 1963
- Local government legislation makes special provision for the City of London Corporation, Inner Temple and Middle Temple to perform the functions of London borough councils in their areas
- Later renamed Hammersmith and Fulham
- Later renamed Barking and Dagenham
- Sharpe, LJ (1961). The Report of The Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London.
- London Government Act 1963 Section 6 (4)
- The Local Government Boundary Commission for England, The Boundaries of Greater London and The London Borough, Report 627, (1992)
- Jane Dudman (20 October 2010) Public sector cuts will not hit 'back office' hardest, The Guardian
- Jaimie Kaffash (7 July 2010) London boroughs to share education services, Public Finance
- Pickles backs plan to merge Tory councils, BBC News 22 October 2010
- Lambeth and Southwark councils to merge some services under Labour plan, London SE1 (30 March 2010)
- Systems Thinking in the Public Sector, John Seddon, Page 57
- Seddon, John. "Shared Illusions".