2019–21 structural changes to local government in England

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Structural changes to local government in England have taken place or will take place in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Some of these changes continue the trend of new unitary authorities being created from other types of local government districts. Counties for the purposes of the Lieutenancies will be redefined in terms of the new local government areas created.

Changes in 2019[edit]

Map of Dorset before (left) and after (right) the 2019 structural changes.

Dorset[edit]

  • Status: Completed

On 1 April 2019, the ceremonial county of Dorset was changed from consisting of a non-metropolitan county (itself divided into six non-metropolitan districts) and two unitary authorities, into consisting of two unitary authorities. These changes mean that the Dorset County Council has been abolished, and that the ceremonial county now consists of two unitary authorities.[1][2] Charter trustees were established for Bournemouth and for Poole as a consequence.[1] The new unitary authorities in Dorset are:

Suffolk[edit]

  • Status: Completed

On 1 April 2019, the number of districts in Suffolk was reduced from seven to five. West Suffolk was created by merging Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury. East Suffolk was created by merging Suffolk Coastal and Waveney. These new districts are not unitary authorities and the two-tier structure of county and district councils remains in place.

Somerset[edit]

  • Status: Completed

On 1 April 2019, the number of districts in the non-metropolitan county of Somerset was reduced from five to four, when Taunton Deane and West Somerset were merged as Somerset West and Taunton. This new district is not a unitary authority and the two-tier structure of county and district councils remains in place. Charter trustees were established for Taunton as a consequence.[1]

Changes in 2020[edit]

Map of local government districts in Buckinghamshire ceremonial county.

Buckinghamshire[edit]

  • Status: Approved

The existing Buckinghamshire County Council and the non-metropolitan districts of Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks, and Wycombe in Buckinghamshire will be replaced by a single unitary authority to be known as Buckinghamshire Council on 1 April 2020. This plan was proposed by Martin Tett, leader of the county council, and is backed by the former Communities Secretary James Brokenshire. It received approval from Parliament in May 2019.[3][4]

Before this was approved by Parliament, the district councils had proposed a different plan in which Aylesbury Vale would become a unitary authority and the other three districts would become another unitary authority. The district councils opposed the single unitary Buckinghamshire plan, and considered legal action against it.[5]

The existing unitary authority of Milton Keynes will not be affected; the ceremonial county of Buckinghamshire will therefore be composed of two unitary authorities from April 2020.

Changes in 2021[edit]

Map of local government districts in Northamptonshire ceremonial county.

Northamptonshire[edit]

  • Status: Approved

The existing non-metropolitan county of Northamptonshire and seven districts will be abolished and two new unitary authorities will be created:[6]

The Conservative government proposed the changes in Northamptonshire as a cost saving measure, as the county council had been experiencing economic difficulty. The joint committee for West Northamptonshire claims that the changes will save 85 million pounds per year.[7][8] The Northamptonshire (Structural Change) Order 2019 (SCO) was brought before Parliament in October 2019, but due to the dissolution of Parliament on 6 November leading up to the general election on 12 December 2019, the changes were not then given final approval.[9] Parliament went on Christmas break after the election, with the order finally being made on 14 February 2020.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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