Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England

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Metropolitan county
Non-metropolitan county
English metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties by type 2009.svg
Location England
Found in Region
Created by Local Government Act 1972
Created 1974
Number 83 (as of 1 April 2009)
Possible types multiple district (34)
single district (49)
Possible status non-metropolitan (77)
metropolitan (6)
Additional status with county council (27)
with no council (7)
with district council (49)
Subdivisions Metropolitan district
Non-metropolitan district

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. 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. In 2009 there were further structural changes in some areas.

Current metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England[edit]

Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England
English metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties 2009 (numbered).svg
  1. Northumberland *
  2. Tyne and Wear
  3. Durham *
  4. Cumbria
  5. Lancashire
  6. Blackpool *
  7. Blackburn with Darwen *
  8. West Yorkshire
  9. North Yorkshire
  10. Darlington *
  11. Stockton-on-Tees *
  12. Middlesbrough *
  13. Hartlepool *
  14. Redcar and Cleveland *
  15. York *
  16. East Riding of Yorkshire *
  17. Kingston upon Hull *
  18. North Lincolnshire *
  19. North East Lincolnshire *
  20. Lincolnshire
  21. Nottinghamshire
  22. Nottingham *
  23. South Yorkshire
  24. Derbyshire
  25. Derby *
  26. Greater Manchester
  27. Merseyside
  28. Halton *
  1. Warrington *
  2. Cheshire West and Chester * ; Cheshire East *
  3. Shropshire *
  4. Telford and Wrekin *
  5. Staffordshire
  6. Stoke-on-Trent *
  7. West Midlands
  8. Warwickshire
  9. Leicestershire
  10. Leicester *
  11. Rutland *
  12. Northamptonshire
  13. Peterborough *
  14. Cambridgeshire
  15. Norfolk
  16. Suffolk
  17. Essex
  18. Southend-on-Sea *
  19. Thurrock *
  20. Hertfordshire
  21. Central Bedfordshire * ; Bedford *
  22. Luton *
  23. Milton Keynes *
  24. Buckinghamshire
  25. Oxfordshire
  26. Gloucestershire
  1. Worcestershire
  2. Herefordshire *
  3. South Gloucestershire *
  4. Bristol *
  5. North Somerset *
  6. Bath and North East Somerset *
  7. Wiltshire *
  8. Swindon *
  9. Berkshire
  10. Greater London ¹
  11. Medway *
  12. Kent
  13. East Sussex
  14. Brighton & Hove *
  15. West Sussex
  16. Surrey
  17. Hampshire
  18. Southampton *
  19. Portsmouth *
  20. Isle of Wight *
  21. Dorset
  22. Poole *
  23. Bournemouth *
  24. Somerset
  25. Devon
  26. Torbay *
  27. Plymouth *
  28. Cornwall *


* unitary authority.
metropolitan county (no county council).
‡ non-metropolitan county with no county council.
¹ 'administrative area' and region (not a county).

Metropolitan counties[edit]

Royal Arms of England (1198-1340).svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
England

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.[1]

The county councils of these were abolished in 1986, but the counties themselves still exist legally.[2] 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.[3]

Greater London[edit]

The Greater London administrative area and the Greater London Council were created in 1965 by the London Government Act 1963.[4] The Greater London Council was abolished in 1986 at the same time as the metropolitan county councils. Since 2000 Greater London has had an elected Assembly and Mayor, and forms the London region of England.

Non-metropolitan counties[edit]

Shire counties[edit]

A 'shire county' is a non-metropolitan county that has multiple districts. Its name need not have 'shire' in it. The term shire county is however unofficial.

There are 28 such counties:

Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, North Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Sussex, Worcestershire.

All, apart from Berkshire, have county councils. Sometimes 'shire county' is used to exclude Berkshire, because it has no county council. The counties have populations of 109,000 to 1.4 million.[1] 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 split into two separate non-metropolitan counties respectively, while Cornwall, County Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire became unitary authorities each of a single district.

Unitary authorities[edit]

Unitary authorities are areas with only one council. 49 of these are coterminous with a non-metropolitan county:

Bath and North East Somerset, Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Central Bedfordshire, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Cornwall, Darlington, Derby, Durham, East Riding of Yorkshire, Halton, Hartlepool, Herefordshire, Isle of Wight, Kingston upon Hull, Leicester, Luton, Medway, Middlesbrough, Borough of Milton Keynes, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North Somerset, Northumberland, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Redcar and Cleveland, Rutland, Shropshire, South Gloucestershire, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Swindon, Telford and Wrekin, Thurrock, Torbay, Warrington, Wiltshire, York.

Forty-three of these are defined as counties with a single district council, and no county council. The Isle of Wight, Cornwall, Durham, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire are technically counties with a county council and no district councils, but the effect is the same.

The districts of Berkshire are unitary authorities, but are not granted county status.

The Isles of Scilly are not part of Cornwall for administrative purposes, but neither do they constitute a county.

History[edit]

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.

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.

Local Government Act 1972[edit]

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.[5]

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.

Map 1974–1996[edit]

Counties of England from 1974 to 1996
  1. Northumberland
  2. Tyne and Wear
  3. Durham
  4. Cleveland
  5. North Yorkshire
  6. Cumbria
  7. Lancashire
  8. Merseyside
  9. Greater Manchester
  10. West Yorkshire
  11. South Yorkshire
  12. Humberside
  13. Lincolnshire
  14. Nottinghamshire
  15. Derbyshire
  16. Cheshire
  17. Shropshire
  18. Staffordshire
  19. West Midlands
  20. Warwickshire
  21. Leicestershire
  22. Northamptonshire
  23. Cambridgeshire
  1. Norfolk
  2. Suffolk
  3. Essex
  4. Hertfordshire
  5. Bedfordshire
  6. Buckinghamshire
  7. Oxfordshire
  8. Gloucestershire
  9. Hereford and Worcester
  10. Avon
  11. Wiltshire
  12. Berkshire
  13. Greater London
  14. Kent
  15. East Sussex
  16. West Sussex
  17. Surrey
  18. Hampshire
  19. Isle of Wight
  20. Dorset
  21. Somerset
  22. Devon
  23. Cornwall
English counties 1974 (numbered).svg

Abolition of metropolitan county councils[edit]

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.

Local Government Act 1992[edit]

1 April 1996 to 31 March 1997
1 April 1997 to 31 March 1998
1 April 1998 to 31 March 2009

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 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.

2009 structural changes[edit]

In April 2009 the following changes were made to the non-metropolitan counties:

Non-metropolitan county Action
Bedford (borough) Also became a non-metropolitan county[6]
Bedfordshire Abolished[6]
Central Bedfordshire New non-metropolitan county[6]
Cheshire Abolished[7]
Cheshire East New non-metropolitan county[7]
Cheshire West and Chester New non-metropolitan county[7]

The effect was that Bedfordshire and Cheshire became ceremonial counties that do not correspond to a non-metropolitan county of the same name.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Jones, B. et al., Politics UK (2004)
  2. ^ Elcock, H, Local Government (1994)
  3. ^ Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Aspects of Britain: Local Government (1996)
  4. ^ Bryne, T., Local Government in Britain (1994)
  5. ^ Arnold-Baker, C., Local Government Act 1972 (1973)
  6. ^ a b c Office of Public Sector Information - Bedfordshire (Structural Changes) Order 2008 (Draft)
  7. ^ a b c Office of Public Sector Information - Cheshire (Structural Changes) Order 2008 (Draft)

External links[edit]