Talk:List of localities in England by population

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Liverpool needs to exclude the outer areas to make these estimates fair Gaogier Talk! 00:22, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Not at all. The boundaries are related to the actual built-up areas and not local authority districts, and they're not estimates, they're official 2001 Census figures. It's all explained in the article and in the given references. Fingerpuppet (talk) 09:11, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Pictures used to represent settlements[edit]

I can see obviously the figures used are in dispute, my problem is the images used to represent the towns and cities. For example, Stoke-On-Trent is represented with an image of a dual carriageway, whereas London is, of course, glorified with it's stunning skyline (yawn). Maybe the pictures need to be looked through and sorted out, with perhaps a less biased approach? (talk) 12:07, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Indeed. The picture of Stoke in particular is completely unrepresentative — in fact, few if any of those pictures give a real flavour of the places they represent. I'd suggest for starters that we should simply remove some, including Stoke and I'd also suggest the Leeds and Sheffield pics. Liverpool's is quite good since it features the river, although in its Capital of Culture year we could probably find something more lively. But overall: why skylines? We're surely not trying to show the size of the entire settlement, are we? Landmarks and public events are more evocative of the places. – Kieran T (talk) 12:23, 10 July 2008 (UTC)
I should have thought that the images have been selected more or less by default, being the most representative image of that city currently available on Commons. Rather than removing images from this article because people don't like them (which wouldn't be very NPOV) we should be encouraging people to take more and better photographs and releasing them under a free licence. DWaterson (talk) 22:06, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Rename the article[edit]

Shouldn't we move this article to "List of urban areas in England by population"? Table KS01 doesn't list towns and cities as such, it lists urban areas, which are statistical constructs rather than legally-defined entities (the pages List of towns in the United Kingdom and City status in the United Kingdom describe what I mean re: a legal definition). Pondle (talk) 16:04, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Absolutely not. Please see Talk:List of Primary Urban Areas in England by population for that particular hornet's nest. DWaterson (talk) 22:40, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Misleading first sentence[edit]

The first sentence misrepresents what the urban subdivisions actually are. They are not an attempt by the ONS to define urban cores, but are mainly hangovers from the 1974 reorganisation. The source given for this doesn't back up the claim "the Key Statistics for Urban Areas figures .... attempt to divorce the populations of towns and cities from the Local Authority district(s) that they are contained within." I realise the whole situation is complicated, but we should not be stating things as fact that the ONS doesn't even claim. Also the statement "suburbs of towns that are within the local authority boundary, but have been recognised by ONS as separate settlements within the larger urban area, have been excluded from the figure." is misleading. The ONS have not 'recognised' suburbs as separate settlements. It is one of many statistical measures that they do, and they make no claims over what the figures represent, apart from being a population within a certain area.

A more accurate description would be something along the lines of:

"The Local Government Act 1972 resulted in a significant reordering of the management of local communities. As a result, some metropolitan councils were created that merged previously separately governed settlements, whilst some urban areas were split, despite appearing to be one settlement. The ONS still publish data based on the local government boundaries from before this act, and it is these figures that are mainly used in this table. They do not necessarily include areas that are now thought to be part of the larger settlement."

I know that needs a ot of work to sound right, but I believe it is in essence more accurate than what we currently have. Quantpole (talk) 09:53, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

I agree that the current wording is misleading, but I'm not sure that Quantpole's suggestion is the best way forward. Perhaps it would be better to reorganise the shape of the article slightly, for clarity. It seems to me that, so far as possible, we should stick to words that ONS use, rather than seeking to place any more interpretation on them than is essential to help the reader's understanding. This is especially important in the introduction. In particular, I think the first sentence should use the ONS wording here - stating that the areas are "defined in terms of their physical extent rather than by any administrative boundaries." The other paragraphs, setting out an interpretation of the list, and (supposed or real) anomalies - would be better in a section headed "Comments" or "Notes" - placed after the list itself. The list is what it is - an ONS list based on set criteria - and the reader should not be distracted by assertions (some valid, some less so) before the list itself. I also think that some of the assertions themselves - especially references to the 1972 Act - are probably irrelevant or confusing, and if there is to be a separate "Comments" section I think it should be tagged for improvement. Ghmyrtle (talk) 10:20, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

Similar to above.I have found this explanation helpful.--Harkey (talk) 10:25, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
Thanks Ghmyrtle, that's a useful link. However, the phrase you quote is not in reference to the areas that are on this table. The relevent section from that link is:
"Major urban areas and others with more than one central focus are divided where possible to produce figures about localities within them. Previously separate urban areas, where urban land has merged, are also recognised by subdivisions where possible. Subdivisions often follow the boundaries of local authorities existing before reorganisation in 1974, or the boundaries of current authorities within urban areas."
which is a lot less clear over what these sub-divisions actually represent. Note in particular the historical basis for these areas, which is what I was trying to make clear in my proposed wording. Quantpole (talk) 10:47, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

Inconsistent, or simply misleading?[edit]

Can someone explain the rationale of excluding Milton from the Cambridge figure, but bundling huge, unspecified parts of Three Rivers into the Watford figure? For comparison, the town of Watford had a population of 79726 in 2001, so it's quite an extraordinary leap. To treat Watford differently based on Greater London Urban Area information makes no sense. If we're going to deviate from the census, we should go by Hertfordshire County Council's figures, which include a smaller number of settlements contiguous with the town of Watford, giving a figure of 91,067 (on page 15). --WFC-- 20:44, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

Sorry to mess up your sortable table edit, but I had to reinstate Watford because it's listed in Table KS01 with the population cited accurately. The table doesn't say anything about Three Rivers though, so I'll delete that part of the row.[1]--Pondle (talk) 12:12, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
I won't revert for the time being (but would you mind reinstating the sortable edit when possible?). Although I can see why you removed Three Rivers, the figure is now more misleading than it originally was. Given the reliable sources I have provided above, if Watford must stay, would it be possible to incorporate the above information into the list? I accept the argument for consistency with the main source, but equally it's misleading to add 30,000 or 40,000 to the town's population without a proper explanation. --WFC-- 12:22, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
I've restored the sortability. I think you might be misunderstanding the nature of this table, and the nature of stats on urban areas in the UK. Everything in this table is sourced from the ONS Key Statistics for Urban Areas table (KS01), which derives from Census 2001 data. ONS Urban Areas are not the same as counties, boroughs, or other administrative areas. So 'Watford' in this table is a statistical construct rather than the 'Borough of Watford'. It's all explained here:[2].--Pondle (talk) 12:42, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
I understand them. But I find it extremely difficult to accept the inconsistency within the table, with Cambridge being a good example. If we're going to stick to the ONS definitions then so be it. But it should be done so rigourously- using the above example, the entry should be called Cambridge/Melton, with Melton's figure included, and the note explaining Cambridge's figure alone. Similar things should be done with other settlements such as Watford. --WFC-- 13:14, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
I've got no objection to that, as long as we stick to KS01 figures and don't mix up urban areas (such as I41200 Cambridge Urban Area) with urban subdivisions (I41203 Cambridge/Milton). I think the notes section might be unhelpful - why does it say that Birmingham is a metropolitan district? This isn't a list of local council districts. If no-one objects I may be WP:BOLD and remove the notes.--Pondle (talk) 15:20, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
The current notes need a lot of work, but a notes section is absolutely necessary. Particularly given that we are wikilinking to articles which are drastically different to the area the list entry is describing. --WFC-- 16:25, 30 August 2010 (UTC)


I think it's WP:UNDUE to single out Watford for special explanation in the table. All of the population figures cited here are for urban areas rather than boroughs or city council areas. The intro already states:

The populations are figures from the United Kingdom Census 2001 provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) by using the Key Statistics for Urban Areas figures that attempt to divorce the populations of towns and cities from the Local Authority districts that they are contained within... These figures are not the population of local government areas such as city or borough council areas, for these see List of English districts by population.

Maybe we should rename the article List of urban areas in England by population to avoid any confusion.--Pondle (talk) 15:48, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

While I normally wait for discussion to conclude before making reverts, I'm not going to do so in this case. It's absolutel nonsense to remove well sourced information that helps clarify, on the grounds that you can't be bothered to do so for other places, especially when you explicitly are not doing so for Cambridge. A rename might go some way towards clearing things up, but the only ways to "avoid any confusion" would be to either restrict this list to actual towns and cities, to provide clarifying notes in every instance, or to link to the bodies that this list actually represents (for instance, "Watford" should link to Watford (Greater London Urban Area)). --WFC-- 16:21, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
WFCforLife, there's no point in providing clarifying notes of this sort - the intro, which I quoted above, already clarifies that none of the urban areas listed here is a local authority area. If you want to remove the links or redirect them to urban area articles (where they exist) then fine. But IMO it's pointlessly repetitive to go through every single one of the 57 entries here noting that "Birmingham is not to be confused with the City of Birmingham, Liverpool is not to be confused with the City of Liverpool, Sheffield is not to be confused with the City of Sheffield" etc etc. And I don't know why you're particularly concerned about Cambridge and Watford... if you still don't agree with me, rather than getting into an edit war you could ask for a third opinion.--Pondle (talk) 17:08, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
I agree fully with Pondle, and with the change of article title. The article lists the areas as defined by the ONS. There is an explanation at the top of the article page, and a link to the website if the reader wants more information. It is quite inappropriate and misleading to provide further "explanation" for a particular urban area - there needs to be consistency, and in this case the consistency is provided by the ONS definition, whether or not an editor may think that definition is flawed (and, for what it's worth, I know it is). Ghmyrtle (talk) 17:20, 2 September 2010 (UTC)
I have little interest in getting embroiled in a wikilawyering match. All I will say is that 95% of the above comment was added at 20:50 UTC; at the time of my last edit to the page, I was not ignoring a consensus that might or might not exist between two distinct editors. If you want to deliberately mislead our readers before an adequate explanation has been devised, that's your call. --WFC-- 08:35, 3 September 2010 (UTC)

Settlement/Urban Area/Locality/Urban Subdivision mess[edit]

There's a confusing mess of articles, including this one, around urban areas, settlements, towns, cities and urban sub-divisions. As they probably need to be cleared up together, to make sense relative to each other as well as individually, I've brought the subject up here. JimmyGuano (talk) 16:18, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

Sutton Coldfield[edit]

Is there an good reason why the Sutton Coldfield should be excluded from the population of the West Midlands urban area? As far as I can see, it is contiguous. Does the reliable source, the Office for National Statistics, show it as separate? If not then to do anything else is POV. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 15:44, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

Most of the areas listed here are contiguous with at least one other one, they are after all subdivisions of urban areas, not urban areas themselves. Sutton Coldfield is separate because it was administratively separate in 1974, which the ONS considers to make it a separate locality. I agree it is silly, but it is correct according to this most reliable of sources. JimmyGuano (talk) 07:28, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
Sutton Coldfield is not excluded from the population of the West Midlands urban area. It is considered to be a separate settlement/subdivision/locality from Birmingham, but is a constituent part of the West Midlands Urban Area. This is consistent with the rest of the data, and indeed is expected behaviour explained in the ONS notes to the data. Fingerpuppet (talk) 11:19, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

This whole article is POV[edit]

I am unable to see on which reliable source this article is based. The Office for National Statistics has Urban sub-areas for 2001 which may or may not be the same as the 1974 boundaries. Furthermore, I cannot see why the 1974 boundaries are at all relevant to Wikipedia in 2013 except and only except if the data shown is as recorded at the 1971 census, as an historical record. It seems to me that this article as it stands should be deleted. Is there any reason why it should not be nominated to RfD? --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 15:52, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

JMF, misunderstandings often arise regarding these population articles. This one is derived from table KS01 of the 2001 census - though the table referred to 'urban areas' rather than 'localities', a term which appears to be a Wikipedia-ism. You can now find the 2001 urban area data here. The reference to 1974 boundaries is made in the explanatory notes to the Key Statistics for urban areas in the North publication, specifically para 1 on page 3 of part 1, which explains that sub-divisions of urban areas "often follow the [local authority] boundaries existing before… 1974". I hope this clears things up for you.Pondle (talk) 22:30, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
"Localities" is the term used by the ONS to refer to the subdivisions of Urban Areas, which is what these are (see p3 of the first document on the page you yourself linked to above [3]). Localities are rubbish as a measure - I can't see how sub-dividing urban areas by 1974 boundaries gives anything meaningful - but they are official and well-sourced rubbish, they are not POV, so they should probably stay in the encyclopedia. (My opinion that they are rubbish, of course, is POV...) JimmyGuano (talk) 07:24, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I have to accept that logic, even though silly premises lead to a rubbish conclusion.
However, let me be more specific about what I find to remain POV. The intro says that the article is about localities as at their 1974 boundaries - but surely that is [some Latin phrase which describes the error in logic which arises when you call a hen an egg because that's what it used to be]. Localities have expanded - particularly in the SE - in the past 40 years: it seems to me to be complete nonsense to ignore that. So OK let's let the title stand but let's lose the silly 1974 reference and give only the term that the ONS uses: 'urban sub-area', while referring readers to the urban areas which give a more realistic view of the modern locality.--John Maynard Friedman (talk) 17:04, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm not a fan of the word 'localities' - it only appears about three times in the ONS report, and it doesn't seem to be an official or 'technical' term. The ONS report uses the term 'sub-divisions' far more frequently, but I don't think the latter is very meaningful to a layperson.
As far as 1974 is concerned, we can't lose this reference, because - like it or loathe it - the pre-74 council boundaries were a key part of the ONS methodology in defining urban sub-divisions / localities / whatever you want to call them (remember, Wikipedia is about verifiability not truth). Editors are often confused about the places appearing here, so a brief note explaining how the ONS derived this list is immensely helpful in avoiding confusion.Pondle (talk) 13:06, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
"Localities" and "Urban sub-divisions" are the two terms used by the ONS. The advantage of "localities" is that that is the term used by the GRO for the Scottish equivalents, which is useful for keeping consistency across UK articles. Changing this to "Urban sub-divisions" wouldn't be wrong though, for England at least. JimmyGuano (talk) 18:13, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
It is still my assertion that the 1974 boundaries tell you about nothing except 1974. To continue to use them best part of 40 years later is meaningless and misdirecting to naive visitors. Yes, it is certainly true that "the pre-74 council boundaries were a key part of the ONS methodology in defining urban sub-divisions", but are no longer so. Another list of 'cities by urban core' was deleted for the same reason: it is 39 years out of date. The verifiability rule doesn't allow you to say today that a hen is an egg because that's what it used to be some time ago - we must be direct and not deliberately obscure. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 17:11, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
The localities that are listed are the current ones defined by the ONS though (or at least the 2001 ones, I guess some new ones will be forthcoming shortly). The ONS just base their current definition on 1974 boundaries, for reasons they explain in their document. JimmyGuano (talk) 18:13, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

There is this constant query about the boundaries being based on 1974. They're not, except in very specific cases: those where the boundaries between settlements were already within the built-up area at the point of the 1981 Census. As a simple guide - look at the census data itself, and the fact that areas are given for subdivisions, and the fact that these change with each census, as they should.

To give an example - the Birmingham - Sutton Coldfield boundary is fixed along the Birmingham County Borough - Sutton Coldfield Municipal Borough boundary as it stood on 31 March 1974. This boundary cannot change because the two places butt up against one another directly and have done since before that date - which is the most recent date where local authority boundaries were actually based on urban areas. However, nothing stops the two settlements growing or shrinking in any other direction where they do not directly butt up against any other settlement/locality/subdivision as can be seen by the following data extract from the 1991 and 2001 censuses.

Locality 2001 Area


1991 Area


Birmingham 22,296 22,334
Sutton Coldfield 4,343 4,236

The data is correct as to the urban areas as at the 2001 census, and is different from those given in either the 1971 or 1981 censuses. If the data was simply stuck in 1974 as claimed, then there would be no change in the areas given. Fingerpuppet (talk) 13:09, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

2011 key stats and changes to UK Urban Areas[edit]

Is there not an updated version of this list to include the 2011 key stats for the Built up area sub-divisions (previously localities & urban sub-areas)? Basically these BUASD's have replaced the localities and now have areas included in previous urban areas that were not included in the 2001 census. Take my town of Middlesbrough for example. In 2001 it had an urban population of 142,691 whereas now it has a built up area sub-division population of 174,700. This is because of a change in methodology in the way urban areas are viewed so this definitely could do with an update if not a new seperate article for the 2011 figures! Anyone agree with this? Acklamite (talk) 20:13, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

See the hatnote at the beginning of the article:

This article is provided for historical interest only, because this sense of 'locality' disappears in the 2011 census and the population data have been recalculated.

so the short answer is 'no'. The less short answer is to refer you to List of urban areas in the United Kingdom. The long answer is that you would have to start a new article based on Built up area sub-divisions (not that the ONS has been particularly reliable/consistent in their delineation of these). But before you spend a lot of time on it, I suggest you invite comments because many people question whether such an article would be informative or useful - or merely harp back to the halcyon days before 1974. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 16:37, 23 September 2014 (UTC)

list of towns and cities // figures for 2011[edit]

I tried to go to "Talk:List of towns and cities in England by population", but got (Redirected from Talk:List of towns and cities in England by population)
This article tells that the term 'locality' is not used anymore. That does not matter, since List of cities in the United Kingdom has the cities listed, and Category:Towns in England by county has the the towns by county, so it is known which they are, too. All of them seem to have population for 2001, so "List of towns and cities in England by population in 2001" could be done. Some of the towns do not (yet?) have the figures for 2011, such as Smethwick, Bolton, Stockport and Blackburn. Or does it mean that the population was not counted for those towns?
There is something I don't get, that's for sure. (talk) 02:41, 8 December 2014 (UTC)

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  1. ^ "2001 census: Key Statistics for Urban Areas". ONS. Retrieved 2008-12-04. 
  2. ^ "1991 Census: West Midlands Urban Area". ONS. Retrieved 2008-12-04.