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Greater London shown within England, containing thirty-two London boroughs
|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 are the thirty-two principal subdivisions of the administrative area of Greater London and are each governed by a London borough council. The London boroughs were all created at the same time as Greater London on 1 April 1965 by the London Government Act 1963 and are a type of local government district. Twelve were designated as Inner London boroughs and twenty as Outer London boroughs. London boroughs have populations of around 150,000 to 300,000, which is equivalent to a typical English city. Inner London boroughs tend to be smaller, both in terms of population and area, and have higher population densities than Outer London boroughs. 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.
London borough councils provide the majority of local government services, in contrast to the strategic Greater London Authority which has limited authority over all of Greater London. The councils were first elected in 1964 and acted as shadow authorities until 1 April 1965. Each borough is divided into electoral wards, subject to periodic review, for the purpose of electing councillors. Council elections take place every four years, with the most recent elections in 2010 and the next elections due in 2014. The political make-up is dominated by the three major national parties. Twenty eight councils follow the leader and cabinet model of executive governance, with directly elected mayors in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham and Tower Hamlets. The London boroughs and London borough councils cover Greater London outside the City of London, which is instead governed by the City of London Corporation and the Inner and Middle Temples.
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 not. There was a separate Inner London Education Authority for the inner area, where the former 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 1]
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 combing 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 council|
|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.
Richard Cressey, a policy officer at Westminster City Council, participating in a discussion on housing policy in 2013, asserted that the sums of money required for regeneration were increasingly beyond that which could be borrowed by any one London Borough, and argued for borrowing on a pan-London basis. 
List of boroughs
- ISO 3166-2:GB, subdivision codes for the United Kingdom
- Political make-up of London borough councils
- 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".