Borough of Copeland

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Coordinates: 54°25′52″N 3°23′20″W / 54.431°N 3.389°W / 54.431; -3.389

Coat of arms of Copeland
Coat of arms
Copeland shown within Cumbria
Copeland shown within Cumbria
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
RegionNorth West England
Ceremonial county Cumbria
Historic countyCumberland
Administrative HQWhitehaven (The Copeland Centre)
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district
 • BodyCopeland Borough Council
 • LeadershipMayor and cabinet
 • ExecutiveIndependent Mayor / Labour Executive
 • MayorMike Starkie
 • MPsTrudy Harrison (C)
 • Total282.5 sq mi (731.7 km2)
Area rank52nd
 (mid-2019 est.)
 • Total68,183
 • Rank299th
 • Density240/sq mi (94/km2)
Ethnicity (2011)
 • White99.3%
Time zoneUTC+0 (Greenwich Mean Time)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (British Summer Time)
Postcode areas
CA (14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28)
LA (18, 19, 20)
Dialling codes01229 (Barrow-in-Furness/Millom)
01946 (Whitehaven)
Vehicle registration prefixP
GSS codeE07000029
NUTS 3 codeUKD11
ONS code16UE
Trunk primary routesA595
Police areaCumbria
Fire serviceCumbria
Ambulance serviceNorth West

The Borough of Copeland is a local government district and borough in western Cumbria, England. Its council is based in Whitehaven. It was formed on 1 April 1974 by the merger of the Borough of Whitehaven, Ennerdale Rural District and Millom Rural District. The population of the Non-Metropolitan district at the 2011 Census was 70,603.[1]

The name is derived from an alternative name for the Cumberland ward of Allerdale above Derwent, which covered roughly the same area.

There are different explanations for the name. According to a document issued at the time of the borough's grant of arms, the name is derived from kaupland, meaning "bought land," referring to an area of the Forest bought from the estate of St Bees Priory.[2] However, Angus Winchester (1985) holds that the name derives from the time of the Irish-Norse invasion of the area in the tenth century (Wainwright 1975). According to this explanation, the area was purchased from the Kingdom of Strathclyde, possibly with loot from Ireland. Geoffrey Hodgson (2008) argues that this Viking invasion accounts for the high frequency of the surname Hodgson in the area.


In 2014 the borough of Copeland was found to have the fattest population in England with a percentage of 75.9% being either overweight or obese (BMI greater than 25) according to official PHE statistics.[3][4]

In 2018 Copeland had the third highest median income of UK local authorities, after the City of London and Tower Hamlets.[5] However this median hides the wide differences in income between those who work at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site and elsewhere in the borough, leading to Copeland being described as ‘a community of two halves’. [6]


Elections to the borough council are held every four years, with currently 51 councillors being elected at each election. Since the first election in 1973 the council has been under Labour control, apart from between 1976 and 1979 when it was under no overall control. As of the 2015 election the council is composed of the following councillors:

Party Councillors
Labour Party 29
Conservative Party 17
Independent 5

Directly-elected mayor[edit]

On 22 May 2014 a referendum was carried out in the borough to change the style of governance in Copeland to a directly-elected mayor, after campaigners from the Time For Change team successfully obtained enough signatures from 5% of the electorate in a petition. The referendum result was: For: 12,671; Against: 5,489.[7]

The first election for mayor was held on 7 May 2015 and Mike Starkie (Independent) was elected by 15,232 votes to the Labour Party candidate Steve Gibbon's 14,259 votes.[8]


  1. ^ "Non-metropolitan district population 2011". Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  2. ^ Arms of Copeland Borough Council, document issued at time of grant of arms
  3. ^ "Revealed: the fattest towns and cities in England". The Telegraph. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  4. ^ "England's fattest areas: Copeland 'most overweight borough'". BBC. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
  5. ^ "Employee earnings in the UK - Office for National Statistics".
  6. ^ "Copeland byelection: 'We are a community of two halves'".
  7. ^ Copeland votes for elected Mayor in referendum ITV Border, 23 May 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014
  8. ^ "Election results for Copeland (Mayoral), 7 May 2015". 7 May 2015.


  • Hodgson, Geoffrey M. (2008) Hodgson Saga, second edition (Standon, Hertfordshire: Martlet Books).
  • Wainwright, F. T. (1975) Scandinavian England: Collected Papers (Chichester: Phillimore).
  • Winchester, Angus J. L. (1985) 'The Multiple Estate: A Framework for the Evolution of Settlement in Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian Cumbria', in Baldwin, John R. and Whyte, Ian D. (eds) (1985) The Scandinavians in Cumbria (Edinburgh: The Scottish Society for Northern Studies), pp. 89–101.

External links[edit]