City of Wakefield

Coordinates: 53°40′59″N 1°29′56″W / 53.683°N 1.499°W / 53.683; -1.499
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City of Wakefield
County Hall
Wakefield shown within West Yorkshire
Wakefield shown within West Yorkshire
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
RegionYorkshire and the Humber
Ceremonial countyWest Yorkshire
Admin. HQWakefield
 • TypeMetropolitan borough, City
 • Governing bodyWakefield Metropolitan District Council
 • MayorCllr Tracey Austin (L)
 • LeadershipLeader & Cabinet
 • ExecutiveLabour
 • MPs:Yvette Cooper (L)
Andrea Jenkyns (C)
Simon Lightwood (L)
Jon Trickett (L)
 • Total130.7 sq mi (338.6 km2)
 • Rank121st
 • Total353,368
 • RankRanked 23rd
 • Density2,700/sq mi (1,000/km2)
Time zoneUTC+0 (Greenwich Mean Time)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (British Summer Time)
ISO 3166-2GB-WKF
ONS code00DB (ONS)
E08000036 (GSS)
  • 93.0% White
  • 3.6% Asian
  • 1.3% Black
  • 1.4% Mixed
  • 0.7% Other
Wakefield skyline with the towers of County Hall, the town hall and the cathedral spire

The City of Wakefield is a local government district with the status of a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. Wakefield, the largest settlement, is the administrative centre of the district. The population of the City of Wakefield at the 2011 Census was 325,837.[2] The district includes the Five Towns of Castleford, Featherstone, Knottingley, Normanton and Pontefract.[3] Other towns include Hemsworth, Horbury, Ossett, South Elmsall and South Kirkby (also forms the civil parish of South Kirkby and Moorthorpe). The city and district are governed by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council from the County Hall.[4]

In 2010, Wakefield was named as the UK's third most musical city by PRS for Music.[5]


The economic and physical condition of several of the former mining towns and villages in Wakefield District have started to improve due to the booming economy of Leeds – and an increase in numbers of commuters to the city from the sub-region – and a recognition of undeveloped assets. For instance Castleford, to the North East of Wakefield is seeing extensive development and investment because of the natural asset of its outlook on to the River Aire, its easy access to the national motorway network and the availability of former mining land for house-building. In Ossett, house prices have risen from an average of £50,000 in 1998 to £130,000 in 2003.

Although unemployment was amongst the highest in the country for most of the 1980s, and 1990s, Wakefield District now has below-average unemployment. The "Wakefield East" ward had 4.7% unemployment in May 2005 (source: Office for National Statistics)—which was more than 1% higher than any other ward. The eastern half of the district remains considerably less prosperous than the western half, with several deprived wards

The district is mainly made out of old coal-mining towns, although other industries include wool, chemicals, machine tools, glass and other forms of manufacturing. Horbury is something of an anomaly in having had an iron works.[6] When Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 there were 21 pits in the district. By the time the 1984 Strike began this had decreased to 15, however it still had more collieries than any other district in the country. At the time of privatisation in November 1994, only two remained: the Prince of Wales at Pontefract, which closed in 2002, and Kellingley at Knottingley which closed in 2015 ending the industry that once dominated the district. Most of the district's pits had been very hardline during the 1984 strike.


The former Borough of Wakefield was raised to city status by letters patent in 1888. It became a county borough in 1913, taking it out of the jurisdiction of the West Riding County Council. The present boundaries were set in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, when the County Borough of Wakefield merged with the West Riding municipal boroughs of Castleford, Ossett and Pontefract, the urban districts of Featherstone, Hemsworth, Horbury, Knottingley, Normanton and Stanley, along with Wakefield Rural District and parts of Hemsworth Rural District and Osgoldcross Rural District. The new metropolitan district's city status was reconfirmed by letters patent in 1974. The Council's headquarters is County Hall, originally built for the West Riding County Council and acquired by Wakefield in 1989.


Cornmarket, Pontefract, one of Wakefield's five towns
Castleford Civic Centre

Green belt[edit]

Pontefract Park

The district is within a green belt region that extends into the surrounding counties that is in place to reduce urban sprawl, prevent the cities and towns in the West Yorkshire Urban Area conurbation from convergence, protect the identity of outlying communities, encourage brownfield reuse, and preserve the countryside. It restricts inappropriate development within the designated areas and imposes stricter conditions on permitted building.[7] Green belt surrounds the Wakefield built up area and stretches into the wider borough and outlying towns and villages. Walton, Netherton, Castleford, Knottingley, and Pontefract are surrounded by it. Smaller villages, hamlets and rural areas such as Warmfield and Heath, Stanley Ferry, Newmillerdam, Snydale, Wintersett, and Chapelthorpe are included in the designation.[8] The green belt was adopted in 1987,[7] and in 2017 amounted to some 23,500 hectares (235 km2; 91 sq mi).[9]


The district is divided into 21 wards, each represented on Wakefield Metropolitan District Council by three councillors. Councillors are elected on a first past the post basis, usually for a four-year period which is staggered so that only one councillor per ward is up for election at any one time. Exceptions include by-elections and ward boundary changes.

Wakefield Metropolitan District wards[edit]

Ward Areas covered[10]
1 Ackworth, North Elmsall and Upton Ackworth, Ackworth Central, Huntwick with Foulby & Nostell, Hessle & Hill Top, West Hardwick, Badsworth, North Elmsall, Thorpe Audlin, Wentbridge & Kirk Smeaton, Ackworth West, Upton
2 Airedale & Ferry Fryston Airedale, Ferry Fryston, Townville, Fryston Village
3 Altofts & Whitwood Normanton (Altofts), Normanton (Lee Brigg), Whitwood, Whitwood Mere, Roundhill, Half Acres, Normanton Industrial Estate, Featherstone North West
4 Castleford Central & Glasshoughton The Potteries, Central Castleford, Wheldon Road & Lock Lane, Glasshoughton, Redhill (part), Smawthorne Estate, The Maltkilns, Healdfield Area, Cutsyke
5 Crofton, Ryhill & Walton Chevet, Notton, Notton – Bleakley, Walton South, Walton North, Crofton, Ryhill, Wintersett, Havercroft with Cold Hiendley, Havercroft East
6 Featherstone Featherstone Central, Featherstone East, Featherstone North West, Featherstone South, Sharlston
7 Hemsworth Hemsworth South, Hemsworth East, Fitzwilliam, Kinsley, Hemsworth West, South Hiendley
8 Horbury & South Ossett Horbury Bridge, Horbury Central, Horbury Junction, Horbury North, Horbury West, Ossett Low Common, Ossett South East, Storrs Hill
9 Knottingley Ferrybridge, Hill Top, Knottingley South, Simpsons, Weeland, Cridling Stubbs (part)
10 Normanton Newland with Woodhouse Moor, Normanton, Normanton Woodhouse, Warmfield-cum-Heath (Heath), Warmfield-cum-Heath (Warmfield), Normanton Common
11 Ossett Broadowler, Flushdyke, Gawthorpe & Paleside, Headlands, Holme Lees, Ossett Central, Ossett Towngate, Ossett East, Ossett West,
12 Pontefract North Castle, Park, Monkhill, Central, Nevison, Barracks' Estate
13 Pontefract South Baghill, Carleton, Chequerfield, Darrington, East Hardwick, Wakefield Road, Westbourne, Wentbridge (North)
14 South Elmsall & South Kirkby Moorthorpe, South Kirkby, South Elmsall
15 Stanley & Outwood East St John's North, Outwood West, Bottomboat, Lake Lock, Newton Hill East, Outwood (Leeds Road), Stanley, Newmarket Lane, Stanley Lee Moor, Lofthouse Gate, Lofthouse
16 Wakefield East Heath View, Northgate, St Swithuns, Windhill, Pinders Heath, Belle Vue, Greenhill, Northgate South, Primrose Hill, Portobello, Northgate North, Stanley Marsh
17 Wakefield North Plumpton, Peacock, St John's East, St John's West, West Alverthorpe Central, Westgate Common, Silcoates, Kirkgate, Alverthorpe North, Newton Bar, Whitehall Rise, Batley Road, Flanshaw
18 Wakefield Rural Crigglestone, Durkar, Hall Green, Newmillerdam, Painthorpe, Middlestown, Netherton, West Bretton, Woolley East, Woolley (Haigh Hill), Woolley West, Calder Grove
19 Wakefield South Agbrigg South, Kettlethorpe, Sandal Castle, Sandal Woodthorpe, Agbrigg North, Belle Vue, Milnthorpe
20 Wakefield West Snapethorpe & Roundwood, West Alverthorpe South, Calder, Kirkgate South, Lupset East, Lupset East Central, Snapethorpe South, Lupset West Central, Westgate Central, Westgate North, Westgate South, Lupset Park, Roundwood, Wakefield Road
21 Wrenthorpe & Outwood West Kirkhamgate, West Alverthorpe North, Gentian Court, Newton Hill West, Carr Gate, Outwood (Ledger Lane), Outwood North, Lingwell Gate, Wrenthorpe, Silcoates


Party political make-up of Wakefield Council
   Party Seats Current Council (2019)
2015[11] 2016[12] 2018[13] 2019[14]
  Labour 53 53 52 49                                                                                                  
  Conservative 6 7 11 11                                                                                                  
  Independent 2 1 0 2                                                                                                  
  Lib Dems 0 0 0 1                                                                                                  

The city was the safest Labour council in England in 2003, but there was a short-lived swing against Labour in recent years. After the 2008 election results the Labour Party had a majority of just one. However the death of Labour councillor Graham Phelps meant that the authority was for a time in no overall control.[15] Labour did however, hold the seat in the by-election in January 2010 restoring their majority.[16]

In the May 2010 local elections Labour held all of their seats and made a net gain of one seat from the Independents increasing Labour's majority on the Council to three. Following the defection of an Independent to Labour, Labour's majority was increased to 5.[17] In January 2011 a Conservative Councillor defected to become an independent Councillor, leaving the Tories with 23 seats.[18]

In May 2011 Labour increased their majority on the council to 15 making 5 gains, taking 3 seats from the Conservatives (Horbury and South Ossett, Pontefract South and Wrenthorpe and Outwood West), and 2 from the Independents (Featherstone and South Elmsall and South Kirkby). The Conservatives gained Ossett from the Liberal Democrats.

Following the local elections held on 5 May 2022, in which Labour and the Liberal Democrats each gained a seat from the Conservatives, the composition of the current Council is Labour 45, Conservatives 13, Liberal Democrats 3, and 2 Independents.


Population pyramid of the City of Wakefield in 2020


The City of Wakefield MDC's Queen Anne style administrative HQ, County Hall (1898), Wakefield

The city district is home to three professional rugby league clubs, the Wakefield Trinity, Castleford Tigers who both play in the Super League and Featherstone Rovers who play in the Kingstone Press Championship. All three have had periods of success. The city also has several amateur rugby league clubs including Featherstone Lions and Normanton Knights. Current England rugby league internationals from the area include; Tom Briscoe, Rob Burrow, Zak Hardaker, and Brett Ferres. The district is also home to two clubs in the Northern Premier League: Ossett United and Pontefract Collieries.

The district has a strong heritage of cricket with former Yorkshire and England captain Geoffrey Boycott born in Fitzwilliam and current Yorkshire and England cricketer Tim Bresnan from Pontefract.

Pontefract Racecourse in Pontefract, is the longest continuous horse racing circuit in Europe at 2 miles 125 yards (3,333 m; 16.57 furlongs).[19]

Social aspects[edit]

A decision was made, in 2004, to transfer the district's extensive council housing to Wakefield and District Housing (WDH), an 'independent' housing association, who would be more efficient with repairs and maintaining decent accommodation; as council housing represented almost 30% of the district, this was the second-largest stock transfer in British history. WDH are investing over £700 million to regenerate the District and working with partners, such as WMDC, are investing in new housing within the District.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wakefield Demographics | Age, Ethnicity, Religion, Wellbeing". Varbes. Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  2. ^ "City of Wakefield population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 15 March 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  3. ^ "The Wakefield District". Wakefield Council. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  4. ^ "Wakefield District". Wakefield Council. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  5. ^ Richard Smith (13 March 2010). "Bristol named Britain's most musical city". Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  6. ^ "Horbury Junction Iron Co". Grace's Guide. Archived from the original on 31 December 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Green belt review" (PDF). Wakefield Council. Archived (PDF) from the original on 22 March 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Local Plan - Adopted". Wakefield Council. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Green belt statistics - GOV.UK". Archived from the original on 3 July 2018. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Wards". Wakefield Council. Archived from the original on 16 January 2005. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
  11. ^ "Local Election Results 2014". Wakefield Council. Archived from the original on 1 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Local Election results 2015". Wakefield Council. Archived from the original on 1 June 2016.
  13. ^ "District (Local) election". Wakefield Council. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Local elections 2019 - results". Wakefield Metropolitan District Council. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  15. ^ "Tributes to Councillor Graham Phelps". Wakefield Council. 19 November 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2009.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Airedale and Ferry Fryston by-election result". Archived from the original on 30 August 2010. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  17. ^ "Local election results 2010". Wakefield Council. Archived from the original on 9 May 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  18. ^ "Jesty, Graham". Wakefield Council. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  19. ^ "Course Details – Pontefract Racecourse". Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2008.

53°40′59″N 1°29′56″W / 53.683°N 1.499°W / 53.683; -1.499