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The Local Government Act 1972 (1972 c. 70) is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdommarker that reformed local government in England and Wales on 1 April 1974.

Its pattern of two-tier metropolitan and non-metropolitan county and district councils remains in use today in large parts of Englandmarker, although the metropolitan county councils were abolished in 1986 and they were replaced with unitary authorities in many areas in the 1990s. In Walesmarker, it established a similar pattern of counties and districts.Arnold-Baker, C., Local Government Act 1972, (1973) These have since been entirely replaced with a system of unitary authorities. In Scotlandmarker, the Local Government Act 1973 regionalised local government with a system of two-tier regions and districts in 1975 — this was also replaced by a system of unitary council areas in 1996.

Elections were held to the new authorities in 1973, and they acted as 'shadow authorities' until the handover date. Elections to county councils were held on 12 April, for metropolitan and Welsh districts on 10 May, and for non-metropolitan district councils on 7 June.

England

Background

Elected county councils had been established in England and Wales for the first time in 1888, covering areas known as administrative counties. Some large towns, known as county boroughs, were politically independent from the counties they were physically situated in. The county areas were two-tier, with many municipal borough, urban district and rural districts within them, each with its own council.

Apart from the creation of new county boroughs, the most significant change since 1899 (and the establishment of metropolitan boroughs in the County of London) had been the establishment in 1965 of Greater Londonmarker and its thirty-two London boroughs, covering a much larger area than the previous county of London. A Local Government Commission for England was set up in 1958 to review local government arrangements throughout the country, and had some successes, such as merging two pairs of small administrative counties to form Huntingdon and Peterborough and Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely, and the creation of several contigous county boroughs in the Black Countrymarker. However, the Local Government Commission was routinely having its recommendations ignored in favour of the status quo, such as its proposal to abolish Rutlandmarker, or to reorganise Tynesidemarker.

It was generally agreed that there were significant problems with the structure of local government. Despite mergers, there was still a proliferation of small district councils in rural areas, and in the major conurbations the borders had been set before the pattern of urban development had become clear. For example, the area that was to become the seven boroughs of the metropolitan county of West Midlands, local government was split between three administrative counties (Staffordshire, Warwickshiremarker, and Worcestershire), and eight county boroughs (Birminghammarker, Coventrymarker, Dudleymarker, Solihullmarker, Walsallmarker, Warleymarker, West Bromwichmarker, and Wolverhamptonmarker).

The Local Government Commission was wound up in 1966, and replaced with a Royal Commission (known as the Redcliffe-Maud commission). In 1969 it recommended a system of single-tier unitary authorities for the whole of England, apart from three metropolitan areas of Merseyside, Selnecmarker (Greater Manchester) and West Midlands (Birminghammarker and the Black Countrymarker), which were to have both a metropolitan council and district councils.

This report was accepted by the Labour Party government of the time despite considerable opposition, but the Conservative Party won the June 1970 general election, and on a manifesto that committed them to a two-tier structure. The new government made Peter Walker and Graham Page the ministers, and quickly dropped the Redcliffe-Maud report. They invited comments from interested parties regarding the previous government's proposals. The Association of Municipal Corporations put forward a scheme with 13 provincial councils and 132 main councils, about twice the number proposed by Redcliffe-Maud.

White Paper and Bill

The incoming government's proposals for England were presented in a White Paper published in February 1971.HMSO. Local Government in England: Government Proposals for Reorganisation. Cmnd. 4584. The White Paper substantially trimmed the metropolitan areas, and proposed a two-tier structure for the rest of the country. Many of the new boundaries proposed by the Redcliffe-Maud report were retained in the White Paper. The proposals were in large part based on ideas of the County Councils Association, Urban District Councils Association and the Rural District Councils Association.

The White Paper outlined principles, including an acceptance of the 250,000 minimum limit for education authorities in the Redcliffe-Maud report, and its finding that the division of governance between town and country had been harmful, but that some functions were better performed by smaller units. It gave the division of functions between the districts and the counties, and also suggested a minimum population of 40,000 for districts. The government aimed to introduce the bill in the 1971/1972 session of Parliament for elections in 1973 and the new authorities coming into full power on 1 April 1974. The White Paper held off on making any commitments on regional or provincial government, waiting instead for the Crowther Commission to report back.

This was subject to public debate and the proposals were substantially changed with the introduction of the Bill into Parliament in November 1971:



The Bill as introduced also included two new major changes based around the concept of unifying estuaries - Humberside on the Humbermarker estuary, and the inclusion of Harwichmarker and Colchestermarker in Suffolk to unify the Stourmarker estuary. The latter was removed from the Bill before it became law. Proposals from Plymouthmarker for a Tamar county were rejected. It also provided names for the new counties for the first time."Government rejects plan for Tamar county". The Times. 26 January 1972

The main amendments made to the areas during the Bill's passage through Parliament were



In the Bill as published, the Dorset/Hampshire border was between Christchurch and Lymington. On 6 July 1972, a government amendment added Lymington to Dorset, which would have had the effect of having the entire Bournemouth conurbationmarker in one county (although the town in Lymington itself does not form part of the built-up area, the borough was large and contained villages which do). The House of Lords reversed this amendment in September, with the government losing the division 81 to 65. In October, the government brought up this issue again, proposing an amendment to put the western part of Lymington borough. The amendment was withdrawn.

The government lost divisions in the House of Lords at Report Stage on the exclusion of Wilmslowmarker and Poyntonmarker from Greater Manchester and their retention in Cheshire, and also on whether Rothwell should form part of the Leeds or Wakefield districts. (Rothwell had been planned for Wakefield, but an amendment at report stage was proposed by local MP Albert Roberts and accepted by the government. This was overturned by the Lords.) Instead, the Wakefield district gained the town of Ossettmarker, which was originally placed in the Kirkleesmarker district, following an appeal by Ossett Labour Party.

The government barely won a division in the Lords on the inclusion of Weston-super-Maremarker in Avon, by 42 to 41.

Two more metropolitan districts were created than originally in the Bill:
  • Rochdalemarker and Burymarker were originally planned to form a single district (dubbed "Botchdale" by local MP Michael Fidler) Rochdale took Middleton from Oldham in compensation.
  • Knowsleymarker was not originally planned, and was formed from the western part of the planned St Helensmarker district


As passed, the Act would have included Charlwoodmarker and Horleymarker in West Sussexmarker, along with Gatwick Airport. This was reversed by the Charlwood and Horley Act 1974, passed just before the Act came into force. Charlwood was made part of the Mole Valley district and Horley part of Reigate and Bansteadmarker. Gatwick Airport was still transferred.

Although willing to compromise about exact boundaries, the government stood firm on the existence or abolition of county councils. The Isle of Wightmarker (originally scheduled to be merged back into Hampshire as a district) was the only local campaign to succeed, and also the only county council in England to violate the 250,000 limit for education authorities. The government bowed to local demand for the island to retain its status in October 1972, moving an amendment in the Lords to remove it from Hampshire. Lord Sanford noting that "nowhere else is faced with problems of communication with its neighbours which are in any way comparable."

Protests from Rutlandmarker and Herefordshiremarker failed, although Rutland was able to secure its treatment as a single district despite not even managing to meet the stated minimum population of 40,000 for districts.

Several metropolitan boroughs fell under the 250,000 limit, including three of Tyne and Wear's five boroughs (North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Gateshead), and the four metropolitan boroughs that had resulted from the splitting of the proposed Burymarker/Rochdalemarker and Knowsleymarker/St Helensmarker boroughs.

Wales

In Wales, the background was substantially different. The Redcliffe-Maud Commission had not considered Wales, which had been the subject of the Welsh Office proposals in the 1960s. A White Paper was published in 1967 on the subject of Wales, based on the findings of the 1962 report of the Local Government Commission for Wales. The White Paper proposed five counties, and thirty-six districts. The county boroughs of Swansea, Cardiff and Newport would be retained, but the small county borough of Merthyr Tydfilmarker would become a district. The proposed counties were as follows



Implementation of reform in Wales was not immediate, pending decisions on the situation in England, and a new Secretary of State, George Thomas, announced changes to the proposals in November 1968. The large northern county of Gwynedd was to be split to form two counties (creating Gwynedd in the West and Clwyd in the East) with various alterations to the districts. The Redcliffe-Maud report led to a reconsideration of the plans, especially with respect to Glamorgan and Monmouthshire, and a March 1970 White Paper proposed three unitary authorities for south Wales, based on Cardiff, Swansea and Newport.

After the 1970 general election, the new Conservative government published a Consultative Document in February 1971, at the same time as the English White Paper. The proposals were similar to the Labour proposals of 1968, except that the county boroughs were instead two-tier districts, and that Glamorgan was to be subdivided into West Glamorgan and East Glamorgan, making 7 counties and 36 districts.

In the Bill as introduced Glamorgan had been split into three authorities: with East Glamorgan further subdivided into a Mid Glamorgan covering the valleys, and South Glamorgan. The decision to split East Glamorgan further left South Glamorgan with only two districts (one of which was the Conservative-controlled Cardiffmarker, who had requested the split) and Mid Glamorgan one of the poorest areas in the country. The Labour-controlled Glamorgan County Council strongly opposed this move, placing adverts in newspapers calling for Glamorgan to be saved from a "carve up", and demanding that the East/West split be retained. The resulting South Glamorgan was the only Welsh county council the Conservatives ever controlled (from 1977-1981).

Apart from the new Glamorgan authorities, all the names of the new Welsh counties were in the Welsh language, with no English equivalent. With the exception of Clwyd (which was named after the River Clwydmarker) the names of the counties were taken from ancient British kingdoms. Welsh names were also used for many of the Welsh districts. There were no metropolitan counties and, unlike in England, the Secretary of State could not create future metropolitan counties there under the Act.Arnold-Baker, C., Local Government Act 1972, (1973)

The Act

After much comment, the proposals were introduced as the Local Government Bill into Parliament soon after the start of the 1971/1972 session.

In the Commons it passed through Standing Committee D, who debated the Bill in fifty-one sittings from 25 November 1971, to 20 March 1972.

The Act abolished previous existing local government structures, and created a two-tier system of counties and districts everywhere. Some of the new counties were designated metropolitan counties, containing metropolitan boroughs instead. The allocation of functions differed between the metropolitan and the non-metropolitan areas (the so-called 'shire counties') — for example, education and social services were the responsibility of the shire counties, but in metropolitan areas was given to the districts. The distribution of powers was slightly different in Wales than in England, with libraries being a county responsibility in England — but in Wales districts could opt to become library authorities themselves. One key principle was that education authorities (non-metropolitan counties and metropolitan districts), were deemed to need a population base of 250,000 in order to be viable.

Although called two-tier, the system was really three-tier, as it retained civil parish councils, although in Wales they were renamed community councils.

The Act introduced 'agency', where one local authority (usually a district) could act as an agent for another authority. For example, since road maintenance was split depending upon the type of road, both types of council had to retain engineering departments. A county council could delegate its road maintenance to the district council if it was confident that the district was competent. Some powers were specifically excluded from agency, such as education.

The Act abolished various historic relics such as aldermen. Many existing boroughs that were too small to constitute a district, but too large to constitute a civil parish, were given Charter Trustees.

Most provisions of the Act came into force at midnight on 1 April 1974. Elections to the new councils had already been held, in 1973, and the new authorities were already up and running as 'shadow authorities', following the example set by the London Government Act 1963.

The new local government areas

The Act specified the composition and names of the English and Welsh counties, and the composition of the metropolitan and Welsh districts. It did not specify any names of districts, nor indeed the borders of the non-metropolitan districts in England — these were specified by Statutory Instrument after the passing of the Act. A Boundary Commission, provided for in the Act, had already begun work on dividing England into districts whilst the Bill was still going through Parliament.

In Englandmarker there were 46 counties and 296 districts, in Wales there were 8 and 37. Six of the English counties were designated as metropolitan counties. The new English counties were based clearly on the traditional ones, albeit with several substantial changes.Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Aspects of Britain: Local Government, (1996) The 13 historic counties of Wales, however, were abandoned entirely for administrative purposes, and 8 new ones instituted.

The Act substituted the new counties "for counties of any other description" for purposes of law. This realigned the boundaries of ceremonial and judicial counties used for lieutenancy, custodes rotulorum, shrievalty, commissions of the peace and magistrates' courts to the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties. The Act also extended the rights of the Duchy of Lancaster to appoint Lord-Lieutenants for the shrunken Lancashiremarker along with all of Greater Manchestermarker and Merseyside.

In England prior to the passing of the Act there had been 1086 urban and rural districts and 79 county boroughs. The number of districts was reduced about fourfold.

England

Metropolitan counties

Metropolitan county Existing geographic county or subdivision County boroughs Other parts
Greater Manchestermarker Cheshiremarker Stockportmarker urban north-east Cheshire
Lancashiremarker Burymarker, Boltonmarker, Manchestermarker, Oldhammarker, Rochdalemarker, Salfordmarker, Wiganmarker urban south-east Lancashire
Yorkshire, West Riding none Saddleworthmarker urban district
Merseyside Cheshiremarker Birkenheadmarker, Wallaseymarker most of Wirralmarker peninsula
Lancashiremarker Bootlemarker, Liverpoolmarker, St Helensmarker, Southportmarker urban south-west Lancashire
South Yorkshiremarker Yorkshire, West Riding Barnsleymarker, Doncastermarker, Sheffieldmarker, Rotherhammarker southern West Riding
Nottinghamshiremarker none Finningleymarker
Tyne and Wear Durham Gatesheadmarker, South Shieldsmarker, Sunderlandmarker urban north-east Durham
Northumberlandmarker Tynemouthmarker, Newcastle upon Tynemarker urban south-east Northumberland
West Midlands Staffordshire Dudleymarker, Walsallmarker, West Bromwichmarker, Wolverhamptonmarker Aldridge-Brownhillsmarker
Warwickshiremarker Birminghammarker, Coventrymarker, Solihullmarker Sutton Coldfieldmarker, Meriden Gapmarker
Worcestershire Warleymarker Halesowenmarker and Stourbridgemarker
West Yorkshire Yorkshire, West Riding Bradfordmarker, Dewsburymarker, Halifaxmarker, Huddersfieldmarker, Leedsmarker, Wakefieldmarker western West Riding of Yorkshire


Metropolitan districts

Metropolitan county Metropolitan district County boroughs Other components
Greater Manchestermarker Burymarker Burymarker Prestwichmarker, Radcliffemarker, Ramsbottommarker (part), Tottingtonmarker, Whitefieldmarker (Lancashire)
Boltonmarker Boltonmarker Blackrodmarker, Farnworthmarker, Horwichmarker, Kearsleymarker, Little Levermarker, Turton (part), Westhoughtonmarker (Lancashire)
Manchestermarker Manchestermarker Ringwaymarker from Bucklow Rural Districtmarker (Cheshire)
Oldhammarker Oldhammarker Chaddertonmarker, Shaw and Cromptonmarker, Failsworthmarker, Leesmarker and Roytonmarker (Lancashire); Saddleworthmarker (West Riding)
Rochdalemarker Rochdalemarker Heywoodmarker, Littleboroughmarker, Middletonmarker, Milnrowmarker and Wardlemarker (Lancashire)
Salfordmarker Salfordmarker Ecclesmarker, Irlammarker, Worsleymarker, Swinton and Pendleburymarker (Lancashire)
Stockportmarker Stockportmarker Bredbury and Romileymarker, Cheadle and Gatleymarker, Hazel Grove and Bramhallmarker and Marplemarker (Cheshire)
Tameside none Dukinfieldmarker, Hydemarker, Longdendalemarker, Stalybridgemarker (Cheshire); Ashton-under-Lynemarker, Audenshawmarker, Dentonmarker, Droylsdenmarker, Mossleymarker (Lancashire)
Traffordmarker none Altrinchammarker, Bowdonmarker, Halemarker, Salemarker, part of Bucklow Rural Districtmarker (Cheshire); Stretfordmarker, Urmstonmarker (Lancashire)
Wiganmarker Wiganmarker Abrammarker, Ashton-in-Makerfieldmarker (most), Aspullmarker, Athertonmarker, Billinge-and-Winstanleymarker (part), Golbornemarker (part), Hindleymarker, Ince-in-Makerfieldmarker, Leighmarker, Orrellmarker, Standish-with-Langtreemarker, Tyldesleymarker, part of Wigan Rural Districtmarker (Lancashire)
Merseyside Knowsleymarker none Huyton-with-Robymarker, Kirkbymarker, Prescotmarker, Simonswoodmarker, part of Whiston Rural Districtmarker (Lancashire)
Liverpoolmarker Liverpoolmarker none
St Helensmarker St Helensmarker Ashton-in-Makerfieldmarker (part), Billinge-and-Winstanleymarker (part) Haydockmarker, Newton-le-Willowsmarker, Rainfordmarker, part of Whiston Rural Districtmarker (Lancashire)
Sefton Bootlemarker, Southportmarker Crosby, Formbymarker, Litherlandmarker, part of West Lancashire Rural Districtmarker (Lancashire)
Wirral Birkenheadmarker, Wallaseymarker Bebingtonmarker, Hoylakemarker, Wirralmarker (Cheshire)
South Yorkshiremarker Barnsley Barnsleymarker Cudworthmarker, Darfieldmarker, Hoyland Nethermarker, Penistonemarker, Roystonmarker, Wombwellmarker, Worsbroughmarker; Penistone Rural Districtmarker, part of Hemsworth Rural Districtmarker; part of Wortley Rural Districtmarker (West Riding)
Doncastermarker Doncastermarker Adwick le Streetmarker, Bentley with Arkseymarker, Conisbroughmarker, Mexboroughmarker, Tickhillmarker (West Riding), Finningleymarker (Nottinghamshire)
Sheffieldmarker Sheffieldmarker Stocksbridgemarker, part of Wortley Rural Districtmarker (West Riding)
Rotherhammarker Rotherhammarker Maltbymarker, Rawmarshmarker, Swintonmarker, Wath upon Dearnemarker; Kiveton Park Rural Districtmarker, Rotherham Rural District (West Riding)
Tyne and Wear Newcastle upon Tynemarker Newcastle upon Tynemarker Gosforthmarker, Newburnmarker, part of Castle Ward Rural Districtmarker (Northumberland)
North Tyneside Tynemouthmarker Wallsendmarker, part of Whitley Baymarker, Longbentonmarker, part of Seaton Valleymarker (Northumberland)
Gateshead Gatesheadmarker Blaydonmarker, Fellingmarker, Rytonmarker and Whickhammarker, part of Chester-le-Street Rural Districtmarker (Durham)
South Tyneside South Shieldsmarker Jarrowmarker, Boldon, Hebburnmarker (Durham)
Sunderlandmarker Sunderlandmarker Hettonmarker, Houghton-le-Springmarker, Washingtonmarker, part of Easington Rural District, part of Chester-le-Street Rural Districtmarker (Durham)
West Midlands Birminghammarker Birminghammarker Sutton Coldfieldmarker (Warwickshire)
Coventrymarker Coventrymarker Allesleymarker and Keresleymarker from Meriden Rural Districtmarker (Warwickshire)
Dudley Dudleymarker Halesowenmarker and Stourbridgemarker (Worcestershire)
Sandwell Warleymarker and West Bromwichmarker none
Solihullmarker Solihullmarker many parishes from Meriden Rural Districtmarker, and Hockley Heathmarker from Stratford-on-Avon Rural District (Warwickshire)
Walsallmarker Walsallmarker Aldridge-Brownhillsmarker (Staffordshire)
Wolverhamptonmarker Wolverhamptonmarker none
West Yorkshire Bradfordmarker Bradfordmarker Baildonmarker, Bingleymarker, Denholmemarker, Ilkleymarker, Keighleymarker, Queensbury and Shelfmarker (part), Shipleymarker, Silsdenmarker; part of Skipton Rural Districtmarker (West Riding)
Calderdalemarker Halifaxmarker Brighousemarker, Ellandmarker, Hebden Roydmarker, Queensbury and Shelfmarker (part), Rippondenmarker, Sowerby Bridgemarker, Todmordenmarker, Hepton Rural Districtmarker (West Riding)
Kirkleesmarker Dewsburymarker, Huddersfieldmarker Batleymarker, Colne Valley, Denby Dalemarker, Heckmondwikemarker, Holmfirthmarker, Kirkburtonmarker, Melthammarker, Mirfieldmarker, Spenboroughmarker (West Riding)
Leedsmarker Leedsmarker Aireboroughmarker, Garforth, Horsforthmarker, Morleymarker, Otleymarker, Pudseymarker, Rothwellmarker; part of Tadcaster Rural Districtmarker, part of Wetherby Rural Districtmarker, part of Wharfedale Rural Districtmarker (West Riding)
Wakefieldmarker Wakefieldmarker Castlefordmarker, Featherstonemarker, Hemsworthmarker, Horburymarker, Knottingleymarker, Normantonmarker, Ossettmarker, Pontefractmarker, Stanleymarker; Wakefield Rural District, part of Hemsworth Rural Districtmarker, part of Osgoldcross Rural Districtmarker (West Riding)


Non-metropolitan counties

Non-metropolitan county Existing geographic county or subdivision County boroughs Other parts
Avon Gloucestershiremarker Bristolmarker southern part
Somersetmarker Bathmarker northern part (including Weston-super-Maremarker)
Bedfordshire Bedfordshire Lutonmarker all
Berkshire Berkshire Readingmarker all except the Vale of White Horsemarker and Didcotmarker, now in Oxfordshire
Buckinghamshire none southern tip (including Sloughmarker)
Buckinghamshire Buckinghamshire none all except southern tip (including Sloughmarker), now in Berkshire
Cambridgeshire Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely none all
Huntingdon and Peterborough none all
Cheshiremarker Cheshiremarker Chestermarker all except Tintwistle Rural Districtmarker (to Derbyshiremarker), north-eastern urban area (to Greater Manchestermarker), Wirralmarker peninsula (to Merseyside)
Lancashiremarker Warringtonmarker mid-southern part, including Widnesmarker
Clevelandmarker Durham Hartlepoolmarker Stockton Rural District
Yorkshire, North Riding Teessidemarker urban northmarker
Cornwallmarker Cornwallmarker none all
Cumbriamarker Cumberlandmarker Carlisle all
Westmorlandmarker none all
Lancashiremarker Barrow-in-Furnessmarker North Lonsdalemarker
Yorkshire, West Riding none Sedbergh Rural Districtmarker
Derbyshiremarker Derbyshiremarker Derbymarker all
Cheshiremarker none Tintwistle Rural Districtmarker
Devonmarker Devonmarker Exetermarker, Plymouthmarker, Torbaymarker all
Dorsetmarker Dorsetmarker none all
Hampshire Bournemouthmarker area around Christchurchmarker
Durham Durham Darlingtonmarker all except urban north-east (to Tyne and Wear) and Stockton Rural District (to Clevelandmarker)
Yorkshire, North Riding none Startforth Rural Districtmarker
East Sussexmarker East Sussexmarker Brightonmarker, Eastbournemarker, Hastingsmarker all except Mid Sussexmarker strip (to West Sussexmarker)
Essex Essex Southend-on-Seamarker all
Gloucestershiremarker Gloucestershiremarker Gloucestermarker all except southern part (to Avon)
Hampshire Hampshire Portsmouthmarker, Southamptonmarker all except part around Christchurchmarker (to Dorsetmarker)
Hereford and Worcester Herefordshiremarker none all
Worcestershire Worcestermarker all except Stourbridgemarker and Halesowenmarker (to West Midlands)
Hertfordshiremarker Hertfordshiremarker none all
Humberside Lincolnshire, Parts of Lindsey Grimsbymarker northern strip including Scunthorpemarker and Cleethorpesmarker
Yorkshire, East Riding Kingston upon Hullmarker all except northern fringe
Yorkshire, West Riding none Goolemarker and Goole Rural Districtmarker
Isle of Wightmarker Isle of Wightmarker none all
Kentmarker Kentmarker Canterburymarker all
Lancashiremarker Lancashiremarker Blackburnmarker, Blackpoolmarker, Burnleymarker, Prestonmarker central part only (south-east to Greater Manchestermarker, south-west part to Merseyside, mid-south to Cheshiremarker, North Lonsdalemarker to Cumbriamarker)
Yorkshire, West Riding none area including Earbymarker and Barnoldswickmarker
Leicestershiremarker Leicestershiremarker Leicestermarker all
Rutlandmarker none all
Lincolnshiremarker Lincolnshire, Parts of Holland none all
Lincolnshire, Parts of Lindsey Lincolnmarker all but northern strip including Scunthorpemarker and Cleethorpesmarker
Lincolnshire, Parts of Kesteven none
Norfolk Norfolk Norwichmarker all
East Suffolkmarker none part of Lothingland Rural Districtmarker near Great Yarmouth
North Yorkshire North Riding of Yorkshire Yorkmarker all except urban northmarker (to Clevelandmarker) and Startforth Rural Districtmarker (to Durham)
Yorkshire, West Riding northern part including Harrogatemarker, Knaresboroughmarker and Selbymarker but not Sedberghmarker (to Cumbria)
Yorkshire, East Riding northern part including Fileymarker
Northamptonshiremarker Northamptonshiremarker Northamptonmarker all
Northumberlandmarker Northumberlandmarker none all except urban south-east (to Tyne and Wear)
Nottinghamshiremarker Nottinghamshiremarker Nottinghammarker all except Finningleymarker (to South Yorkshiremarker)
Oxfordshire Oxfordshire Oxfordmarker all
Berkshire none Vale of White Horsemarker and Didcotmarker
Salopmarker (Shropshire) Salopmarker none all
Somersetmarker Somersetmarker none all except northern part (including Weston-super-Maremarker)
Staffordshire Staffordshire Burton upon Trentmarker, Stoke-on-Trentmarker all except Aldridge-Brownhillsmarker
Suffolk East Suffolkmarker Ipswichmarker all, except part of north-east Suffolk near Great Yarmouthmarker to Norfolk
West Suffolk none all
Surreymarker Surreymarker none all except Gatwick Airport
Warwickshiremarker Warwickshiremarker none all except Sutton Coldfieldmarker and Meriden Gapmarker (to West Midlands)
West Sussexmarker West Sussexmarker none all
East Sussexmarker none western strip
Wiltshiremarker Wiltshiremarker none all


Non-metropolitan districts

A list of non-metropolitan districts can be found at List of English districts. The Local Government Boundary Commission originally proposed 278 non-metropolitan districts in April 1972 (still working with the county boundaries found in the Bill). A further eighteen districts were added in the final proposals of November 1972, which were then ordered.

The splits were as follows (in most cases the splits were not exact, and many other changes to the borders of the districts took place at this time)



The new district in Suffolk was necessitated by the decision to keep Newmarket in Suffolk; which would otherwise have become part of the South Cambridgeshiremarker district.

Isles of Scilly

Section 265 of the Act allowed for the continuation of the local government arrangements for the Isles of Scilly. The Isles of Scilly Rural District Council became the Council of the Isles of Scillymarker, and certain services were to continue to be provided by Cornwall County Council as provided by order in council made by the Secretary of State, although the Isles were not technically in Cornwall before or after 1974.

Wales

New county Existing geographic county County boroughs Other parts
Clwyd Flintshire none all
Denbighshire none all except Llanrwstmarker and area
Merionethshiremarker none Edeyrnion Rural Districtmarker
Dyfed Cardiganshire none all
Carmarthenshiremarker none all
Pembrokeshiremarker none all
Gwent Monmouthshiremarker Newportmarker except parts in Mid Glamorgan and South Glamorgan
Breconshiremarker none Brynmawrmarker and Llanellymarker
Gwyneddmarker Angleseymarker none all
Caernarvonshire none all
Merionethshiremarker none all except Edeyrnion Rural Districtmarker
Denbighshire none Llanrwstmarker and area
Mid Glamorgan Glamorganmarker Merthyr Tydfilmarker Aberdaremarker, Bridgendmarker, Caerphillymarker, Pontypriddmarker, Rhonddamarker etc
Breconshiremarker none Penderyn and Vaynormarker
Monmouthshiremarker none Bedwas and Machen, Rhymneymarker, part of Bedwellty
Powysmarker Montgomeryshiremarker none all
Radnorshiremarker none all
Breconshiremarker none all except parts to Gwent and Mid Glamorgan
South Glamorgan Glamorganmarker Cardiffmarker Barrymarker, Cowbridgemarker, Penarthmarker
Monmouthshiremarker none St Mellonsmarker
West Glamorgan Glamorganmarker Swanseamarker Glyncorrwgmarker, Neathmarker, Llwchwr, Port Talbotmarker


Map



Englandmarker
  1. Northumberlandmarker
  2. Tyne and Wear
  3. County Durham
  4. Clevelandmarker
  5. North Yorkshire
  6. Cumbriamarker
  7. Lancashiremarker
  8. Merseyside
  9. Greater Manchestermarker
  10. West Yorkshire
  11. South Yorkshiremarker
  12. Humberside
  13. Lincolnshiremarker
  14. Nottinghamshiremarker
  15. Derbyshiremarker
  16. Cheshiremarker
  17. Shropshiremarker
  18. Staffordshire
  19. West Midlands
  20. Warwickshiremarker
  21. Leicestershiremarker
  22. Northamptonshiremarker
  23. Cambridgeshire
  1. Norfolk
  2. Suffolk
  3. Essex
  4. Hertfordshiremarker
  5. Bedfordshire
  6. Buckinghamshire
  7. Oxfordshire
  8. Gloucestershiremarker
  9. Hereford and Worcester
  10. Avon
  11. Wiltshiremarker
  12. Berkshire
  13. Greater Londonmarker *
  14. Kentmarker
  15. East Sussexmarker
  16. West Sussexmarker
  17. Surreymarker
  18. Hampshire
  19. Isle of Wightmarker
  20. Dorsetmarker
  21. Somersetmarker
  22. Devonmarker
  23. Cornwallmarker
Walesmarker


  1. Gwent
  2. South Glamorgan
  3. Mid Glamorgan
  4. West Glamorgan


  1. Dyfed
  2. Powysmarker
  3. Gwyneddmarker
  4. Clwyd


metropolitan county
* 'administrative area' created in earlier legislation


Elections

Elections were held to the new authorities on three different Thursdays in 1973. Each new county and district was divided into electoral divisions, known as ward in the districts. For county councils, each electoral division elected one member; for metropolitan district councils, each ward elected three members; and wards in non-metropolitan districts could elect a varying number of members. There was not sufficient time to conduct a full warding arrangement so a temporary system was used: in some county councils electoral divisions elected multiple councillors.

County councils were set on a four-year cycle of elections of all members, and the next elections were in 1977. Metropolitan district councils elected one councillor for each seat in the three other years, starting in 1975. Non-metropolitan districts had a general election again in 1976, and could either conduct elections by-thirds afterwards. Schedule 3 provided that for each metropolitan ward, the councillor for who obtained the least votes in the 1973 election would retire in 1975, the next least in 1976, and the others in 1978, setting up the cycle. If equal numbers of votes were obtained, or ward elections in 1973 had been uncontested, the decision would be made by lot.

Division of functions

Functions previously exercisable by local authorities were distributed broadly as so:

Local government function Metropolitan counties Non-metropolitan counties
Allotments Districts Districts
Arts and recreation Counties and districts Counties and districts
- Libraries Districts Counties
- Museums and galleries Counties and districts Counties and districts
- Tourism Counties and districts Counties and districts
Cemeteries and cremetoria Districts Districts
Consumer protection Counties Counties
Education Districts Counties
Environmental health Districts Districts
- Refuse collection Districts Districts
Fire service Counties Counties
Footpaths (create, protect) Counties and districts Counties and districts
Footpaths (maintain, signs) Counties Counties
Housing Districts Districts
Licence duty Districts Districts
Markets and fairs Districts Districts
Planning Counties and districts Counties and districts
- Local plans Districts Districts
- Structure plans Counties Counties
- National parks Counties Counties
Police Counties and districts Counties and districts
Rate collection Districts Districts
Smallholdings Counties Counties
Social services Districts Counties
Traffic and highways Counties and districts Counties and districts
- Public transport Counties Counties and districts
- Transport planning Counties Counties


In many areas both authorities had some powers. For some powers, certain Welsh districts were allowed greater powers by the Secretary of State.

Reaction

The system established by the Act was the object of some criticism. One major controversy was the failure to reform local government finance. Having lost office at the general election of February 1974, Graham Page, the minister who had piloted the Act through parliament, condemned the existing system of rates and grants. His successor as Minister for the Environment, Tony Crosland said that he would be rexamining the rates system, while the Association of Metropolitan Authorities sought the establishment of a royal commission to consider the matter.

The two-tier structure established was also seen as problematic. In particular the division of planning between districts and counties was a source of friction between the new councils. Thamesdown Borough Council called for a further reform and complete abolition of counties as they felt Wiltshire County Council was unable to respond to the needs of an expanding urban area. Further complaints surrounded the loss of water supply and sewerage powers to regional water authorities created by the Water Act 1973. This was felt to reduce the ability of district councils to plan new housing developments. It was also felt that the boundaries of the metropolitan counties were too tightly drawn, leaving out much of the suburban areas of the conurbations. The leading article in The Times on the day the Act came into effect noted that the new arrangement is a compromise which seeks to reconcile familiar geography which commands a certain amount of affection and loyalty, with the scale of operations on which modern planning methods can work effectively.

There was some criticism of county boundary changes. A campaign was mounted to return the Uffington White Horsemarker to Berkshire, and a bonfire was lit at the site by protestors as the Act came into effect. The campaigners claimed 10,000 signatures in favour of diverting the county boundary to include the "Berkshire White Horse". The calls were rejected by the local MP, Airey Neave, who pointed out that the horse predated county boundaries and by the chairman of the Vale of White Horsemarker District Council. Professor Anthony Fletcher af the Department of Medieval History of the University of Sheffield suggested that the new councils place signs at the boundaries of ancient counties.

Some of the reaction against the Act came not from people concerned with the preservation of historic counties, but instead was motivated solely by opposition to change. The Isle of Wightmarker, for example, is historically part of Hampshire, yet resisted efforts to reintegrate with it administratively; and the county borough councils regretted the loss of their status. Especially stung was the City and County of Bristolmarker, which had had its own Lord Lieutenant for centuries.

Most of the criticism of the Act, however, centred on the size of the new districts. The new Minister, whose party had opposed the reforms in opposition, hoped that “it will be more efficient – but it could easily become more remote”. In order to combat this, Crosland was considering the creation of "neighbourhood councils" in unparished areas of the new districts. The names of some of the new authorities also caused controversy.

Adaption

The system established, however, was not to last. In Englandmarker a series of incremental measures amended the act. Firstly, the county councils of the metropolitan counties were abolished in 1986 by Margaret Thatcher's government, effectively re-establishing county borough status for the metropolitan boroughs. Secondly, a review of local government outside the metropolitan counties was announced in 1989. The consequential local government reform in the 1990s led to the creation of many new unitary authorities, and the complete abolition of Avon, Clevelandmarker, Hereford and Worcester and Humberside. Names such as Herefordshiremarker and the East Riding of Yorkshire reappeared as local government entities, although often with new boundaries. Several former county boroughs such as Derby, Leicester and Stoke on Trent regained unitary status. Additionally, another wave of unitary authorities will be formed in 2009. In Walesmarker there was a more radical change in policy with the two-tier system entirely abolished in 1996, and replaced with the current principal areas of Wales. The 1974 counties have been retained as preserved counties for various purposes, notably as ceremonial counties, albeit with substantive border revisions.

See also



References

  1. HMSO. Local Government Act 1972. 1972 c.70
  2. The Times, 13 April, 11 May, 8 June 1973
  3. Bryne, T., Local Government in Britain (1994)
  4. "Cabinet drop council house sale curb and Maud proposals". The Times. 30 June 1970.
  5. "Adapting the Maud report". Timothy Raison. The Times. 8 January 1971.
  6. "Boroughs to press for new 132-council structure". The Times. 13 November 1970.
  7. Wood, Bruce. Process of Local Government Reform: 1966-1974. 1976
  8. "Proposed new areas and their composition". The Times. 17 February 1971.
  9. DOE Circular 8/71
  10. Local Government Bill, Government Proposals for New Counties in England with the Proposed Names, 4 November 1971, Map
  11. "Unpopular Name", The Times. 5 January 1972
  12. "Teesside: Town and country welcome Whitehall compromise". The Times. 21 March 1972.
  13. "Boundaries Bill protest". 4 July 1972.
  14. "Newmarket tries again to jump the boundary". 3 August 1972.
  15. "Isle of Wight reprieve". The Times. 5 October 1972
  16. "Lymington stays in Hampshire". The Times. 12 September 1972.
  17. "Peers renew fight to keep Lymington undivided". The Times. 17 October 1972.
  18. "Lymington to remain undivided". The Times. 18 October 1972.
  19. "Triple Lords defeat for Government on boundaries Bill". The Times. 17 October 1972.
  20. Ossett Town Hall, Ossett Historical Society, 2008, page 104
  21. "Somerset loses its battle to remain intact". The Times. 17 October 1972.
  22. "Lancashire saved from 'Botchdale'". The Times. 7 July 1972.
  23. "Philosophy on councils has yet to emerge". The Times. 8 July 1972
  24. Redcliffe-Maud & Wood, B., English Local Government Reformed, (1974)
  25. .
  26. "Isle of Wight retains its county council". The Times. 18 October 1972.
  27. "Thirteen Welsh counties cut down to five". The Times. 12 July 1967.
  28. "Local Government Reorganisation in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire
  29. "Two-tier plan conflict." The Times. 2 April 1970
  30. HMSO. Welsh Office, The Reform of Local Government in Wales
  31. "Welsh aim is for seven large units." The Times. 17 February 1971.
  32. "Minister defends Glamorgan decision". The Times. 18 November 1971.
  33. "Glamorgan County County: Save Glamorgan from the Carve Up." The Times. 24 November 1971.
  34. "Ancient Welsh names restored in council titles". The Times. 19 December 1972.
  35. The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972 - SI 1972/2038
  36. English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973 - SI 1973/551
  37. Metropolitan Districts (Names) Order - SI 1973/137
  38. Districts in Wales (Names) Order - SI 1973/34
  39. Local Government Act 1972 (c.70), s.216
  40. Elcock, H., Local Government, (1994)
  41. Local Government Act 1972 (c.70), s.219(3)
  42. Hampton, W., Local Government and Urban Politics, (1990)
  43. All change in local affairs, The Times, 1 April 1974
  44. Beginning of the end for local government? The Times, 1 April 1974
  45. Thamesdown, The Times, 14 April 1974
  46. Warning of ‘remoteness’ in new councils, The Times, 1 April 1974
  47. Berkshire White Horse, The Times, 5 June 1974
  48. Whose White Horse?, The Times, 24 June 1974
  49. Whose White Horse?, The Times, 5 July 1974
  50. Changing Counties, The Times, 24 May 1973
  51. Administrative map loses some famous names, The Times, 28 March 1973
  52. Councils want their names changed, The Times, 13 August 1973
  53. County review ordered, The Times, 18 March 1989


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