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Non-metropolitan districts, or colloquially shire districts, are a type of local government district in Englandmarker. As originally created, they are sub-divisions of non-metropolitan counties (colloquially shire counties) in a so-called "two-tier" arrangement. In the 1990s, several non-metropolitan counties were created that are unitary authorities and also have non-metropolitan district status. A third category is the districts of Berkshire, which are non-metropolitan districts that are unitary authorities, but without non-metropolitan county status.

Shire districts

Shire districts are subdivisions of English non-metropolitan shire counties which have a two-tier structure of local government. Shire counties have a county council, and also have several districts, each with a district council. Local government functions are divided between county and district councils, to the level where they can be practised most efficiently:


Many districts have borough status, which means the local council is called a Borough Council instead of District Council and gives them the right to appoint a Mayor. Borough status is granted by royal charter and, in many cases, continues a style enjoyed by a predecessor authority, which can date back centuries. Some districts such as Oxfordmarker or Exetermarker have city status, granted by letters patent, but this does not give the local council any extra powers other than the right to call itself a City Council. Not all city or borough councils are non-metropolitan districts, many being Unitary Authorities - districts which are ceremonially part of a non-metropolitan county, but not run by the county council - or Metropolitan Districts - which were subdivisions of the Metropolitan Counties created in 1974, but who's county councils were abolished in the 1980s and are effectively unitary authorities and have the same powers.


By 1899, England had been divided at district level into rural districts, urban districts, municipal boroughs, county boroughs and metropolitan boroughs. This system was abolished by the London Government Act 1963 and the Local Government Act 1972. Non-metropolitan districts were created by this act in 1974 when England outside of Greater London was divided into metropolitan counties and non-metropolitan counties. Metropolitan counties were sub-divided into metropolitan districts and the non-metropolitan counties were sub-divided into non-metropolitan districts. The metropolitan districts had more powers then their non-metropolitan counterparts. Initially, there were 296 non-metropolitan districts in the two-tier structure, but reforms in the 1990s and 2009 reduced their number to 201. A further 55 non-metropolitan districts are now unitary authorities, which combine the functions of county and district councils.

Scotland and Wales

In Walesmarker, an almost identical two-tier system of local government existed between 1974 and 1996 (see Districts of Wales). In 1996, this was abolished and replaced with an entirely unitary system of local government, with one level of local government responsible for all local services. Since the areas for Wales and England had been enacted separately and there were no Welsh metropolitan areas, the term 'non-metropolitan district' does not apply to Wales. A similar system existed in Scotlandmarker, which in 1975 was divided into regions and districts, this was also abolished in 1996 and replaced with a fully unitary system.

List of counties and districts

This is a list of shire counties and their shire districts. Some counties contain unitary authorities, which are excluded from this list as are the counties of Berkshire which has no county council, and the counties of Herefordshiremarker, the Isle of Wightmarker, and Rutlandmarker which have no districts.

For a full list of districts of all types including unitary authorities, metropolitan districts and London boroughs, see Districts of England.

Non-metropolitan county Non-metropolitan districts (excluding unitary authorities) Number
Buckinghamshire South Bucksmarker - Chilternmarker - Wycombemarker - Aylesbury Valemarker 4
Cambridgeshire Cambridgemarker - South Cambridgeshiremarker - Huntingdonshiremarker - Fenlandmarker - East Cambridgeshiremarker 5
Cumbriamarker Barrow-in-Furness - South Lakelandmarker - Copelandmarker - Allerdalemarker - Edenmarker - Carlislemarker 6
Derbyshiremarker High Peakmarker - Derbyshire Dalesmarker - South Derbyshiremarker - Erewashmarker - Amber Valleymarker - North East Derbyshiremarker - Chesterfieldmarker - Bolsovermarker 8
Devonmarker Exetermarker - East Devonmarker - Mid Devonmarker - North Devonmarker - Torridgemarker - West Devonmarker - South Hamsmarker - Teignbridgemarker 8
Dorsetmarker Weymouth and Portlandmarker - West Dorsetmarker - North Dorset - Purbeck - East Dorset - Christchurchmarker 6
East Sussexmarker Hastingsmarker - Rother - Wealdenmarker - Eastbournemarker - Lewesmarker 5
Essex Harlowmarker - Epping Forest - Brentwoodmarker - Basildonmarker - Castle Point - Rochfordmarker - Maldon - Chelmsfordmarker - Uttlesfordmarker - Braintreemarker - Colchestermarker - Tendring 12
Gloucestershiremarker Gloucestermarker - Tewkesburymarker - Cheltenhammarker - Cotswoldmarker - Stroudmarker - Forest of Deanmarker 6
Hampshire Gosportmarker - Farehammarker - Winchestermarker - Havantmarker - East Hampshiremarker - Hartmarker - Rushmoor - Basingstoke and Deanemarker - Test Valley - Eastleighmarker - New Forestmarker 11
Hertfordshiremarker Three Rivers - Watfordmarker - Hertsmeremarker - Welwyn Hatfieldmarker - Broxbourne - East Hertfordshiremarker - Stevenagemarker - North Hertfordshiremarker - St Albansmarker - Dacorummarker 10
Kentmarker Dartford - Graveshammarker - Sevenoaksmarker - Tonbridge and Mallingmarker - Tunbridge Wellsmarker - Maidstonemarker - Swale - Ashfordmarker - Shepway - Canterburymarker - Dovermarker - Thanetmarker 13
Lancashiremarker West Lancashiremarker - Chorleymarker - South Ribblemarker - Fyldemarker - Prestonmarker - Wyremarker - Lancastermarker - Ribble Valley - Pendlemarker - Burnleymarker - Rossendalemarker - Hyndburnmarker 12
Leicestershiremarker Charnwoodmarker - Meltonmarker - Harboroughmarker - Oadby and Wigstonmarker - Blabymarker - Hinckley and Bosworthmarker - North West Leicestershiremarker 7
Lincolnshiremarker Lincolnmarker - North Kestevenmarker - South Kestevenmarker - South Hollandmarker - Bostonmarker - East Lindseymarker - West Lindseymarker 7
Norfolk Norwichmarker - South Norfolkmarker - Great Yarmouth - Broadland - North Norfolk - King's Lynn and West Norfolk - Brecklandmarker 7
Northamptonshiremarker South Northamptonshiremarker - Northamptonmarker - Daventrymarker - Wellingboroughmarker - Ketteringmarker - Corbymarker - East Northamptonshiremarker 7
North Yorkshire Selbymarker - Harrogatemarker - Craven - Richmondshiremarker - Hambletonmarker - Ryedalemarker - Scarboroughmarker 7
Nottinghamshiremarker Rushcliffemarker - Broxtowemarker - Ashfieldmarker - Gedlingmarker - Newark and Sherwoodmarker - Mansfieldmarker - Bassetlaw 7
Oxfordshire Oxfordmarker - Cherwellmarker - South Oxfordshiremarker - Vale of White Horsemarker - West Oxfordshiremarker 5
Somersetmarker South Somerset - Taunton Deane - West Somerset - Sedgemoor - Mendip 5
Staffordshire Tamworthmarker - Lichfieldmarker - Cannock Chasemarker - South Staffordshiremarker - Stafford - Newcastle-under-Lymemarker - Staffordshire Moorlands - East Staffordshiremarker 8
Suffolk Ipswichmarker - Suffolk Coastalmarker - Waveneymarker - Mid Suffolkmarker - Baberghmarker - St Edmundsburymarker - Forest Heathmarker 7
Surreymarker Spelthorne - Runnymedemarker - Surrey Heathmarker - Wokingmarker - Elmbridgemarker - Guildfordmarker - Waverley - Mole Valley - Epsom and Ewellmarker - Reigate and Bansteadmarker - Tandridgemarker 10
Warwickshiremarker North Warwickshiremarker - Nuneaton and Bedworthmarker - Rugbymarker - Stratford-on-Avonmarker - Warwickmarker 5
West Sussexmarker Worthingmarker - Arunmarker - Chichestermarker - Horsham - Crawleymarker - Mid Sussexmarker - Adur 7
Worcestershire Worcestermarker - Malvern Hills - Wyre Forestmarker - Bromsgrovemarker - Redditch - Wychavonmarker 6
Total 201

List of abolished non-metropolitan districts

This is a list of former shire districts in England which have been abolished, by local government reorganizations such as the 2009 structural changes to local government in England.

The former non-metropolitan districts of Berkshire (Readingmarker, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenheadmarker, West Berkshire, and Wokingham) have remained in existence as unitary authorities.

In Wiltshiremarker, the district of Thamesdown was reorganized into the unitary Borough of Swindon, within the same boundaries.

Ceremonial county Abolished non-metropolitan districts Number
Bedfordshire Mid Bedfordshiremarker - South Bedfordshire 2
Cheshiremarker Chester - Congletonmarker - Crewe and Nantwichmarker - Ellesmere Port and Nestonmarker - Macclesfieldmarker - Vale Royalmarker 6
Cornwallmarker Caradonmarker - Carrickmarker - Kerriermarker - North Cornwallmarker - Penwithmarker - Restormelmarker 6
County Durham Durham - Easingtonmarker - Sedgefieldmarker - Chester-le-Streetmarker - Derwentsidemarker - Wear Valleymarker - Teesdalemarker 7
East Riding of Yorkshire Beverleymarker - Boothferrymarker - East Yorkshiremarker - Holdernessmarker 4
Gloucestershiremarker Kingswood - Northavonmarker 2
Herefordshiremarker Herefordmarker - Leominstermarker - South Herefordshiremarker 3
Isle of Wightmarker Medinamarker - South Wightmarker 2
Kentmarker Gillinghammarker - Rochester-upon-Medwaymarker 2
Lincolnshiremarker Cleethorpesmarker - Glanfordmarker 2
Northumberlandmarker Blyth Valleymarker - Wansbeckmarker - Castle Morpethmarker - Tynedalemarker - Alnwickmarker - Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker 6
Shropshiremarker Bridgnorthmarker - North Shropshiremarker - Oswestrymarker - Shrewsbury and Atchammarker - South Shropshiremarker 5
Somersetmarker Bathmarker - Wansdyke - Woodspring 3
Wiltshiremarker Kennetmarker - North Wiltshiremarker - Salisburymarker - West Wiltshire 4
Total 54

See also


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