The Info List - Local Government Act 1972

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The Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972
(c 70) is an Act of Parliament
Act of Parliament
in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
that reformed local government in England and Wales
England and Wales
on 1 April 1974.[1] Its pattern of two-tier metropolitan and non-metropolitan county and district councils remains in use today in large parts of England, although the metropolitan county councils were abolished in 1986, and both county and district councils were replaced with unitary authorities in many areas in the 1990s. In Wales, too, the Act established a similar pattern of counties and districts,[2] but these have since been entirely replaced with a system of unitary authorities. It was one of the most significant Acts of Parliament to be passed by the Heath Government of 1970–74 and is surpassed only by the European Communities
European Communities
Act 1972 which took the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
into the European Communities. 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.[3]


1 England

1.1 Background 1.2 White Paper and Bill

2 Wales 3 The Act 4 The new local government areas

4.1 England

4.1.1 Metropolitan counties 4.1.2 Metropolitan districts 4.1.3 Non-metropolitan counties 4.1.4 Non-metropolitan districts 4.1.5 Isles of Scilly

4.2 Wales 4.3 Map

5 Elections 6 Division of functions 7 Reaction 8 Amendment and adaptation 9 See also 10 External links 11 References

England[edit] Background[edit] Elected county councils had been established in England and Wales
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 in which they were physically situated. The county areas were two-tier, with many municipal borough, urban district and rural districts within them, each with its own council.[4] 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 London 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 made some changes, such as merging two pairs of small administrative counties to form Huntingdon and Peterborough and Cambridgeshire
and Isle of Ely, and creating several contiguous county boroughs in the Black Country. However, most of the Commission's recommendations, such as its proposals to abolish Rutland or to reorganise Tyneside, were ignored in favour of the status quo. It was generally agreed that there were significant problems with the structure of local government.[4] 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, in 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, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire), and eight county boroughs (Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Solihull, Walsall, Warley, West Bromwich, and Wolverhampton). Many county boundaries reflected traditions of the Middle Ages or even earlier; industrialisation had created new and very large urban areas like the West Midlands, Liverpool
and Manchester
which spanned traditional county boundaries and were now often bigger than and far from their traditional county towns. 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, SELNEC (South East Lancashire
and North East Cheshire, now known as Greater Manchester) and West Midlands ( Birmingham
and the Black Country), 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,[4] but the Conservative Party won the June 1970 general election on a manifesto that committed it to a two-tier structure. The new government made Peter Walker and Graham Page the ministers, and quickly dropped the Redcliffe-Maud report.[5] They invited comments from interested parties regarding the previous government's proposals.[6] 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.[7] White Paper and Bill[edit] The incoming government's proposals for England
were presented in a White Paper published in February 1971.[8] 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, the Urban District Councils Association and the Rural District Councils Association.[9] The White Paper outlined principles, including an acceptance of the minimum population of 250,000 for education authorities in the Redcliffe-Maud report, and its findings that the division of functions between town and country had been harmful, but that some functions were better performed by smaller units. The White Paper set out the proposed division of functions between districts and counties, and also suggested a minimum population of 40,000 for districts. The government aimed to introduce a Bill in the 1971/72 session of Parliament for elections in 1973, so that the new authorities could start exercising full powers on 1 April 1974. The White Paper made no commitments on regional or provincial government, since the Conservative government preferred to wait for the Crowther Commission to report.[8] The proposals were substantially changed with the introduction of the Bill into Parliament in November 1971:[10][11]

Area 4 (Cleveland) would have had a border with area 2 (Tyne and Wear), cutting area 3 (Durham) off from the coast. Seaham
and Easington were to be part of the Sunderland district. Humberside
did not exist in the White Paper. The East Riding was split between area 5 (North Yorkshire) and an area 8 (East Yorkshire). Grimsby
and Northern Lindsey were to be part of area 22 (Lincolnshire) Harrogate
and Knaresborough
had been included in district 6b (Leeds) Dronfield
in Derbyshire
had been included in district 7c (Sheffield) Area 9 (Cumbria) did not at this stage include the Sedbergh
Rural District from Yorkshire Area 10 (Lancashire) included more parishes from the West Riding of Yorkshire than were eventually included. Area 11 (Merseyside) did not include Southport, but did include Ellesmere Port
Ellesmere Port
and Neston Area 12 (Greater Manchester) lost New Mills
New Mills
and Whaley Bridge
Whaley Bridge
(to be with Stockport), and Glossop (to be in Tameside) The Seisdon Rural District, which formed a narrow peninsula of Staffordshire
running between Shropshire
and the Black Country
Black Country
county boroughs, would originally have been split three ways, between the Wolverhampton
district (15a), area 16 (Shropshire) and area 17 (Worcestershire). Halesowen
would have become part of district 15d (Sandwell) rather than 15c (Dudley) District 15f (Solihull) would have included part of the Birmingham county borough as well as parishes from Stratford on Avon Rural District Area 18 (Warwickshire) would have included several parishes from Daventry Rural District in Northamptonshire Area 20 (Nottinghamshire) would include Long Eaton
Long Eaton
from Derbyshire Area 26 (Avon) to have covered a larger area, including Frome Area 31 (Norfolk) to have covered a large area of East Suffolk, including Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, Lowestoft, Southwold, Lothingland Rural District, and Wainford Rural District. Area 33 (Oxfordshire) to include Brackley
and Brackley
Rural District from Northamptonshire. Area 39 (Berkshire) to include Henley-on-Thames
and Henley Rural District from Oxfordshire Area 40 (Surrey) to include Aldershot, Farnborough, Fleet and area from Hampshire.

The Bill as introduced also included two new major changes based on the concept of unifying estuaries, through the creation of the county of Humberside
on the Humber
Estuary, and the inclusion of Harwich
and Colchester
in Suffolk
to unify the Stour Estuary.[12] The latter was removed from the Bill before it became law. Proposals from Plymouth for a Tamarside county were rejected. The Bill also provided names for the new counties for the first time.[13] The main amendments made to the areas during the Bill's passage through Parliament were

renaming of Malvernshire to Hereford and Worcester (the name "Wyvern" was also suggested)[14] renaming of Teesside
to Cleveland, exclusion of Whitby[15] renaming of Tyneside
to Tyne and Wear[16] removal of Seaham
from Tyne and Wear, keeping it in County Durham[17] removal of Skelmersdale and Holland from Merseyside[9] they were to be part of the independent district of Southport
before Southport
was included within Merseyside exclusion of Colchester
and area from Suffolk, kept in Essex[13][18] exclusion of Newmarket and Haverhill from Cambridgeshire, kept in Suffolk
(despite protests of Newmarket UDC, which was happy to see the town transferred to Cambridgeshire)[19][20][21] keeping the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
independent of Hampshire[22] adding part of Lothingland Rural District
Lothingland Rural District
from Suffolk
to Norfolk

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 conurbation 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).[23] The House of Lords reversed this amendment in September, with the government losing the division 81 to 65.[24] In October, the government brought up this issue again, proposing an amendment to put the western part of Lymington borough in Dorset. The amendment was withdrawn.[25][26] The government lost divisions in the House of Lords at Report Stage on the exclusion of Wilmslow
and Poynton
from Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester
and their retention in Cheshire, and also on whether Rothwell should form part of the Leeds
or Wakefield
districts.[27] (Rothwell had been planned for Wakefield, but an amendment at report stage was proposed by local MP Albert Roberts[18] and accepted by the government. This was overturned by the Lords.) Instead, the Wakefield
district gained the town of Ossett, which was originally placed in the Kirklees district, following an appeal by Ossett
Labour Party.[28] The government barely won a division in the Lords on the inclusion of Weston-super-Mare
in Avon, by 42 to 41.[29][30] Two more metropolitan districts were created than were originally in the Bill:

and Bury
were originally planned to form a single district (dubbed "Botchdale" by local MP Michael Fidler)[31][32] Rochdale
took Middleton from Oldham in compensation.[33] Knowsley was not originally planned, and was formed from the western part of the planned St Helens district[18][34]

As passed, the Act would have included Charlwood
and Horley
in West Sussex, 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
Mole Valley
district and Horley
part of Reigate and Banstead. Gatwick Airport
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 Wight (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.[8][35] 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."[36][37] Protests from Rutland
and Herefordshire
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 Bury/ Rochdale
and Knowsley/St Helens boroughs. Wales[edit] In Wales, the background was substantially different. The Redcliffe-Maud Commission had not considered Wales, which had been the subject of the Welsh Office
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 Tydfil
Merthyr Tydfil
would become a district. The proposed counties were as follows[9][38]

– West Wales
– Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire Glamorgan
– South Wales Gwent – South-East Wales
– Monmouthshire (also including Rhymney valley from Glamorgan) Gwynedd
– North Wales
– Anglesey, Caernarvonshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Merionethshire Powys
– Mid Wales
– Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire, Breconshire

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.[9][39][40] 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.[41] 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.[9][42] 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 Cardiff, who had requested the split) and Mid Glamorgan
one of the poorest areas in the country.[9][43] 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.[44] The resulting South Glamorgan
was the only Welsh county council the Conservatives ever controlled (from 1977 to 1981). One of the effects of the Act was to confirm the area of Monmouthshire as part of Wales. Ambiguity as to the status of Monmouthshire had been introduced by legislation in the 16th and 17th centuries, and by the gradual cultural anglicisation of some eastern parts of the county. By the late 19th century the area was treated in legislation as one with Wales, using the terminology " Wales
and Monmouthshire".[45] 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 Clwyd) the names of the counties were taken from ancient British kingdoms. Welsh names were also used for many of the Welsh districts.[46] There were no metropolitan counties and, unlike in England, the Secretary of State could not create future metropolitan counties there under the Act.[2] The Act[edit] 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. The office previously known as sheriff was retitled high sheriff.[47] 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[edit] 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.[48][49][50][51] In England
there were 45 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.[52] 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.[53] 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.[52][54] The Act also extended the rights of the Duchy of Lancaster
Duchy of Lancaster
to appoint Lord-Lieutenants for the shrunken Lancashire
along with all of Greater Manchester
and Merseyside.[55] In England
before 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[edit] Metropolitan counties[edit]

Metropolitan county Existing geographic county or subdivision County boroughs Other parts

Greater Manchester Cheshire Stockport urban north-east Cheshire

Lancashire Bury, Bolton, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Wigan urban south-east Lancashire

Yorkshire, West Riding none Saddleworth
urban district

Merseyside Cheshire Birkenhead, Wallasey most of Wirral peninsula

Lancashire Bootle, Liverpool, St Helens, Southport urban south-west Lancashire

South Yorkshire Yorkshire, West Riding Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield, Rotherham southern West Riding

Nottinghamshire none Finningley

Tyne and Wear Durham Gateshead, South Shields, Sunderland urban north-east Durham

Northumberland Tynemouth, Newcastle upon Tyne urban south-east Northumberland

West Midlands Staffordshire Dudley, Walsall, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton Aldridge-Brownhills

Warwickshire Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull Sutton Coldfield, Meriden Gap

Worcestershire Warley Halesowen
and Stourbridge

West Yorkshire Yorkshire, West Riding Bradford, Dewsbury, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Wakefield western West Riding of Yorkshire

Metropolitan districts[edit]

Metropolitan county Metropolitan district County boroughs Other components

Greater Manchester Bury Bury Prestwich, Radcliffe, Ramsbottom
(part), Tottington, Whitefield (Lancashire)

Bolton Bolton Blackrod, Farnworth, Horwich, Kearsley, Little Lever, Turton (part), Westhoughton

Manchester Manchester Ringway from Bucklow Rural District (Cheshire)

Oldham Oldham Chadderton, Shaw and Crompton, Failsworth, Lees and Royton (Lancashire); Saddleworth
(West Riding)

Rochdale Rochdale Heywood, Littleborough, Middleton, Milnrow
and Wardle (Lancashire)

Salford Salford Eccles, Irlam, Swinton and Pendlebury
Swinton and Pendlebury
and Worsley

Stockport Stockport Bredbury and Romiley, Cheadle and Gatley, Hazel Grove and Bramhall and Marple (Cheshire)

Tameside none Dukinfield, Hyde, Longdendale, Stalybridge
(Cheshire); Ashton-under-Lyne, Audenshaw, Denton, Droylsden, Mossley

Trafford none Altrincham, Bowdon, Hale, Sale, part of Bucklow Rural District (Cheshire); Stretford, Urmston

Wigan Wigan Abram, Ashton-in-Makerfield
(most), Aspull, Atherton Urban District, Billinge-and-Winstanley (part), Golborne
(part), Hindley, Ince-in-Makerfield, Municipal Borough of Leigh, Orrell, Standish-with-Langtree, Tyldesley Urban District, part of Wigan
Rural District (Lancashire)

Merseyside Knowsley none Huyton-with-Roby, Kirkby, Prescot, Simonswood, part of Whiston Rural District (Lancashire)

Liverpool Liverpool none

St Helens St Helens Ashton-in-Makerfield
(part), Billinge-and-Winstanley (part) Haydock, Newton-le-Willows, Rainford, part of Whiston Rural District (Lancashire)

Sefton Bootle, Southport Crosby, Formby, Litherland, part of West Lancashire
Rural District (Lancashire)

Wirral Birkenhead, Wallasey Bebington, Hoylake, Wirral (Cheshire)

South Yorkshire Barnsley Barnsley Cudworth, Darfield, Hoyland Nether, Penistone, Royston, Wombwell, Worsbrough; Penistone
Rural District, part of Hemsworth
Rural District; part of Wortley Rural District (West Riding)

Doncaster Doncaster Adwick le Street, Bentley with Arksey, Conisbrough, Mexborough, Tickhill
(West Riding), Finningley

Sheffield Sheffield Stocksbridge, part of Wortley Rural District (West Riding)

Rotherham Rotherham Maltby, Rawmarsh, Swinton, Wath upon Dearne; Kiveton Park Rural District, Rotherham
Rural District (West Riding)

Tyne and Wear Newcastle upon Tyne Newcastle upon Tyne Gosforth, Newburn, part of Castle Ward Rural District (Northumberland)

North Tyneside Tynemouth Wallsend, part of Whitley Bay, Longbenton, part of Seaton Valley (Northumberland)

Gateshead Gateshead Blaydon, Felling, Ryton and Whickham, part of Chester-le-Street Rural District (Durham)

South Tyneside South Shields Jarrow, Boldon, Hebburn

Sunderland Sunderland Hetton, Houghton-le-Spring, Washington, part of Easington Rural District, part of Chester-le-Street Rural District (Durham)

West Midlands Birmingham Birmingham Sutton Coldfield (Warwickshire)

Coventry Coventry Allesley
and Keresley from Meriden Rural District (Warwickshire)

Dudley Dudley Halesowen
and Stourbridge

Sandwell Warley and West Bromwich none

Solihull Solihull many parishes from Meriden Rural District, and Hockley Heath
Hockley Heath
from Stratford-on-Avon Rural District (Warwickshire)

Walsall Walsall Aldridge-Brownhills (Staffordshire)

Wolverhampton Wolverhampton none

West Yorkshire Bradford Bradford Baildon, Bingley, Denholme, Ilkley, Keighley, Queensbury and Shelf (part), Shipley, Silsden; part of Skipton Rural District (West Riding)

Calderdale Halifax Brighouse, Elland, Hebden Royd, Queensbury and Shelf (part), Ripponden, Sowerby Bridge, Todmorden, Hepton Rural District (West Riding)

Kirklees Dewsbury, Huddersfield Batley, Colne Valley, Denby Dale, Heckmondwike, Holmfirth, Kirkburton, Meltham, Mirfield, Spenborough (West Riding)

Leeds Leeds Aireborough, Garforth, Horsforth, Morley, Otley, Pudsey, Rothwell; part of Tadcaster Rural District, part of Wetherby Rural District, part of Wharfedale Rural District (West Riding)

Wakefield Wakefield Castleford, Featherstone, Hemsworth, Horbury, Knottingley, Normanton, Ossett, Pontefract, Stanley; Wakefield
Rural District, part of Hemsworth
Rural District, part of Osgoldcross Rural District (West Riding)

Non-metropolitan counties[edit]

Non-metropolitan county Existing geographic county or subdivision County boroughs Other parts

Avon Gloucestershire Bristol southern part

Somerset Bath northern part (including Weston-super-Mare)

Bedfordshire Bedfordshire Luton all

Berkshire Berkshire Reading all except the Vale of White Horse
Vale of White Horse
and Didcot, now in Oxfordshire

Buckinghamshire none southern tip (including Slough)

Buckinghamshire Buckinghamshire none all except southern tip (including Slough), now in Berkshire

Cambridgeshire Cambridgeshire
and Isle of Ely none all

Huntingdon and Peterborough none all

Cheshire Cheshire Chester all except Tintwistle Rural District (to Derbyshire), north-eastern urban area (to Greater Manchester), Wirral peninsula (to Merseyside)

Lancashire Warrington mid-southern part, including Widnes

Cleveland Durham Hartlepool Stockton Rural District

Yorkshire, North Riding Teesside urban north

Cornwall Cornwall none all

Cumbria Cumberland Carlisle all

Westmorland none all

Lancashire Barrow-in-Furness North Lonsdale

Yorkshire, West Riding none Sedbergh
Rural District

Derbyshire Derbyshire Derby all

Cheshire none Tintwistle Rural District

Devon Devon Exeter, Plymouth, Torbay all

Dorset Dorset none all

Hampshire Bournemouth area around Christchurch

Durham Durham Darlington all except urban north-east (to Tyne and Wear) and Stockton Rural District (to Cleveland)

Yorkshire, North Riding none Startforth Rural District

East Sussex East Sussex Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings all except Mid Sussex
Mid Sussex
strip (to West Sussex)

Essex Essex Southend-on-Sea all

Gloucestershire Gloucestershire Gloucester all except southern part (to Avon)

Hampshire Hampshire Portsmouth, Southampton all except part around Christchurch (to Dorset)

and Worcester Herefordshire none all

Worcestershire Worcester all except Stourbridge
and Halesowen
(to West Midlands)

Hertfordshire Hertfordshire none all

Humberside Lincolnshire, Parts of Lindsey Grimsby northern strip including Scunthorpe
and Cleethorpes

Yorkshire, East Riding Kingston upon Hull all except northern fringe

Yorkshire, West Riding none Goole
and Goole
Rural District

Isle of Wight Isle of Wight none all

Kent Kent Canterbury all

Lancashire Lancashire Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Preston central part only (south-east to Greater Manchester, south-west part to Merseyside, mid-south to Cheshire, North Lonsdale
North Lonsdale
to Cumbria)

Yorkshire, West Riding none area including Earby
and Barnoldswick

Leicestershire Leicestershire Leicester all

Rutland none all

Lincolnshire Lincolnshire, Parts of Holland none all

Lincolnshire, Parts of Lindsey Lincoln all but northern strip including Scunthorpe
and Cleethorpes

Lincolnshire, Parts of Kesteven none

Norfolk Norfolk Norwich all

East Suffolk none part of Lothingland Rural District
Lothingland Rural District
near Great Yarmouth

North Yorkshire North Riding of Yorkshire York all except urban north (to Cleveland) and Startforth Rural District (to Durham)

Yorkshire, West Riding northern part including Harrogate, Knaresborough
and Selby
but not Sedbergh
(to Cumbria)

Yorkshire, East Riding northern part including Filey

Northamptonshire Northamptonshire Northampton all

Northumberland Northumberland none all except urban south-east (to Tyne and Wear)

Nottinghamshire Nottinghamshire Nottingham all except Finningley
(to South Yorkshire)

Oxfordshire Oxfordshire Oxford all

Berkshire none Vale of White Horse
Vale of White Horse
and Didcot

Salop (Shropshire) Salop none all

Somerset Somerset none all except northern part (including Weston-super-Mare)

Staffordshire Staffordshire Burton upon Trent, Stoke-on-Trent all except Aldridge-Brownhills

Suffolk East Suffolk Ipswich all, except part of north-east Suffolk
near Great Yarmouth
Great Yarmouth
to Norfolk

West Suffolk none all

Surrey Surrey none all except Gatwick Airport

Warwickshire Warwickshire none all except Sutton Coldfield and Meriden Gap (to West Midlands)

West Sussex West Sussex none all

East Sussex none western strip

Wiltshire Wiltshire none all

Non-metropolitan districts[edit] 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)

Devon: Torridge/North Devon Dorset : Weymouth and Portland/Purbeck, North Dorset/East Dorset Durham : Wear Valley/Teesdale Hereford
and Worcester : Hereford/South Herefordshire/Leominster Humberside: Holderness/North Wolds Isle of Wight: South Wight/Medina Lancashire: Hyndburn/Rossendale Leicestershire : Rutland/Melton, Harborough/Oadby and Wigston Lincolnshire: Boston/South Holland Northamptonshire: Daventry/South Northamptonshire Northumberland : Berwick-upon-Tweed/Alnwick Shropshire : Oswestry/North Shropshire, Bridgnorth/South Shropshire Somerset: Taunton Deane/West Somerset Suffolk: Forest Heath

The new district in Suffolk
was necessitated by the decision to keep Newmarket in Suffolk; which would otherwise have become part of the East Cambridgeshire
district. Isles of Scilly[edit] 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 Scilly, and certain services were to continue to be provided by Cornwall
County Council as provided by order made by the Secretary of State, although the Isles were not technically in Cornwall
before or after 1974. Wales[edit]

New county Existing geographic county County boroughs Other parts

Clwyd Flintshire none all

Denbighshire none all except Llanrwst
and area

Merionethshire none Edeyrnion Rural District

Dyfed Cardiganshire none all

Carmarthenshire none all

Pembrokeshire none all

Gwent Monmouthshire Newport except parts in Mid Glamorgan
and South Glamorgan

Breconshire none Brynmawr
and Llanelly

Gwynedd Anglesey none all

Caernarvonshire none all

Merionethshire none all except Edeyrnion Rural District

Denbighshire none Llanrwst
and area

Mid Glamorgan Glamorgan Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Rhondda etc.

Breconshire none Penderyn and Vaynor

Monmouthshire none Bedwas and Machen, Rhymney, part of Bedwellty

Powys Montgomeryshire none all

Radnorshire none all

Breconshire none all except parts to Gwent and Mid Glamorgan

South Glamorgan Glamorgan Cardiff Barry, Cowbridge, Penarth

Monmouthshire none St Mellons

West Glamorgan Glamorgan Swansea Glyncorrwg, Neath, Llwchwr, Port Talbot



Northumberland Tyne and Wear
Tyne and Wear
† County Durham Cleveland North Yorkshire Cumbria Lancashire Merseyside
Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester
West Yorkshire
West Yorkshire
South Yorkshire
South Yorkshire
† Humberside Lincolnshire Nottinghamshire Derbyshire Cheshire Shropshire Staffordshire West Midlands † Warwickshire Leicestershire Northamptonshire Cambridgeshire Norfolk Suffolk Essex Hertfordshire Bedfordshire Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire Gloucestershire Hereford
and Worcester Avon Wiltshire Berkshire Greater London
Greater London
* Kent East Sussex West Sussex Surrey Hampshire Isle of Wight Dorset Somerset Devon Cornwall


Gwent South Glamorgan Mid Glamorgan West Glamorgan Dyfed Powys Gwynedd Clwyd

† metropolitan county * 'administrative area' created in earlier legislation

Elections[edit] Main article: United Kingdom
United Kingdom
local elections, 1973 Elections to the new authorities were held on three different Thursdays in 1973. Each new county and district was divided into electoral divisions, known as wards 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.[9] 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 subsequently either conduct elections of the whole council or by-thirds.[9][35] 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[edit] Health care and water supply were assigned to new, separate, non-elected authorities, but the remaining functions previously exercised by local authorities were distributed broadly as follows:[35][56]

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, and certain Welsh districts were allowed greater powers by the Secretary of State. Reaction[edit] 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
Tony Crosland
said that he would be re-examining the rates system, while the Association of Metropolitan Authorities sought the establishment of a royal commission to consider the matter.[57][58] 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.[57] 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.[59] 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.[58] 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[citation needed]. The leading article in The Times
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.[57] There was some criticism of county boundary changes. A campaign was mounted to return the Uffington White Horse
Uffington White Horse
to Berkshire, and a bonfire was lit at the site by protestors as the Act came into effect.[60] The campaigners claimed 10,000 signatures in favour of diverting the county boundary to include the " Berkshire
White Horse".[61] 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 Horse
Vale of White Horse
District Council.[62][63] Professor Anthony Fletcher, of the Department of Medieval History of the University of Sheffield, suggested that the new councils place signs at the boundaries of ancient counties.[64] The removal of Gatwick Airport
Gatwick Airport
and the surrounding area from Surrey
into West Sussex met some fierce local opposition with the result that the parishes of Horley
and Charlwood
were subsequently returned to Surrey
in the eponymous Charlwood
and Horley
Act 1974, leaving the airport to stay in West Sussex.[65] Some of the reaction against the Act was motivated by opposition to loss of local control. The county borough councils regretted the loss of their independent status. Especially stung was the City and County of Bristol, which had had its own Lord Lieutenant
Lord Lieutenant
for centuries. Criticism of the Act also 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.[60] The names of some of the new authorities also caused controversy.[66][67] Amendment and adaptation[edit] The system established by the Act was not to last. In England
a series of incremental measures amended it. First, 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. Second, a review of local government outside the metropolitan counties was announced in 1989.[68] The local government reform in the 1990s led to the creation of many new unitary authorities, and the complete abolition of Avon, Cleveland, Hereford and Worcester
and Humberside. Names such as Herefordshire
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 were formed in 2009. In Wales
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[edit]

has original text related to this article: Local Government Act 1972

Local Government Boundary Commission for England
(1972) Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972

External links[edit]

Text of the Act


^ Local Government Act 1972. 1972 c.70. The Stationery Office Ltd. 1997. ISBN 0-10-547072-4.  ^ a b Arnold-Baker, C. (1973). Local Government Act 1972.  ^ The Times, 13 April, 11 May, 8 June 1973 ^ a b c Bryne, T. (1994). Local Government in Britain.  ^ "Cabinet drop council house sale curb and Maud proposals". The Times. 30 June 1970.  ^ Raison, Timothy (8 January 1971). "Adapting the Maud report". The Times.  ^ "Boroughs to press for new 132-council structure". The Times. 13 November 1970.  ^ a b c HMSO. Local Government in England: Government Proposals for Reorganisation. Cmnd. 4584.url=https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/177096/response/436264/attach/3/131003%20Circular%208%2071%20map.pdf ^ a b c d e f g h Wood, Bruce. Process of Local Government Reform: 1966–1974. 1976 ^ "Proposed new areas and their composition". The Times. 17 February 1971.  ^ DOE Circular 8/71 ^ Local Government Bill, Government Proposals for New Counties in England
with the Proposed Names (map). 4 November 1971.  ^ a b "Government rejects plan for Tamar county". The Times. 26 January 1972.  ^ "Unpopular Name". The Times. 5 January 1972.  ^ "Teesside: Town and country welcome Whitehall compromise". The Times. 21 March 1972.  ^ "Counties and Metropolitan Districts in England". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 6 July 1972. col. 907–910.  ^ "Counties and Metropolitan Districts in England". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 6 July 1972. col. 939.  ^ a b c "Local government keeps MPs up all night". The Times. 7 July 1972.  ^ "Boundaries Bill protest". The Times. 4 July 1972.  ^ "Counties and Metropolitan Districts in England". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 6 July 1972. col. 1002–1010.  ^ "Newmarket tries again to jump the boundary". The Times. 3 August 1972.  ^ " Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
reprieve". The Times. 5 October 1972.  ^ "Counties and Metropolitan Districts in England". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 6 July 1972. col. 1033–1047.  ^ "Lymington stays in Hampshire". The Times. 12 September 1972.  ^ "Peers renew fight to keep Lymington undivided". The Times. 17 October 1972.  ^ "Lymington to remain undivided". The Times. 18 October 1972.  ^ "Triple Lords defeat for Government on boundaries Bill". The Times. 17 October 1972.  ^ Ossett
Town Hall. Ossett
Historical Society. 2008. p. 104.  ^ " Somerset
loses its battle to remain intact". The Times. 17 October 1972.  ^ "Local Government Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Lords. 16 October 1972. col. 1568–1661.  ^ "Counties and Metropolitan Districts in England". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 6 July 1972. col. 763–834.  ^ " Lancashire
saved from 'Botchdale'". The Times. 7 July 1972.  ^ "Philosophy on councils has yet to emerge". The Times. 8 July 1972.  ^ "Counties and Metropolitan Districts in England". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 6 July 1972. col. 855–907.  ^ a b c Redcliffe-Maud & Wood, B., English Local Government Reformed, (1974) ^ "Local Government Bill". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Lords. 17 October 1972. col. 1680–1684.  ^ " Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
retains its county council". The Times. 18 October 1972.  ^ "Thirteen Welsh counties cut down to five". The Times. 12 July 1967.  ^ "Local Government Reorganisation in Glamorgan
and Monmouthshire ^ "Two-tier plan conflict." The Times. 2 April 1970 ^ HMSO. Welsh Office, The Reform of Local Government in Wales ^ "Welsh aim is for seven large units". The Times. 17 February 1971.  ^ "Minister defends Glamorgan
decision". The Times. 18 November 1971.  ^ " Glamorgan
County Council: Save Glamorgan
from the Carve Up". The Times. 24 November 1971.  ^ Ivor Waters, The Rise and Fall of Monmouthshire, in Chepstow Packets, 1983, ISBN 0-906134-21-8, pp. 34–44 ^ "Ancient Welsh names restored in council titles". The Times. 19 December 1972.  ^ "Sheriffs appointed for a county or Greater London
Greater London
shall be known as high sheriffs, and any reference in any enactment or instrument to a sheriff shall be construed accordingly in relation to sheriffs for a county or Greater London." ("Government Act 1972: Section 219". [permanent dead link]) ^ The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972 (SI 1972/2039) ^ The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973 (SI 1973/551) ^ The Metropolitan Districts (Names) Order (SI 1973/137) ^ The Districts in Wales
(Names) Order (SI 1973/34) ^ a b Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Aspects of Britain: Local Government, (1996) ^ Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972
(c.70), s.216 ^ Elcock, H. (1994). Local Government.  ^ Local Government Act 1972
Local Government Act 1972
(c.70), s.219(3) ^ Hampton, W. (1990). Local Government and Urban Politics.  ^ a b c "All change in local affairs". The Times. 1 April 1974.  ^ a b "Beginning of the end for local government?". The Times. 1 April 1974.  ^ "Thamesdown". The Times. 14 April 1974.  ^ a b "Warning of 'remoteness' in new councils". The Times. 1 April 1974.  ^ " Berkshire
White Horse". The Times. 5 June 1974.  ^ "Whose White Horse?". The Times. 24 June 1974.  ^ "Whose White Horse?". The Times. 5 July 1974.  ^ "Changing Counties". The Times. 24 May 1973.  ^ http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1973/nov/13/charlwood-and-horley-bill Charlwood
and Horley
bill 1973 ^ "Administrative map loses some famous names". The Times. 28 March 1973.  ^ "Councils want their names changed". The Times. 13 August 1973.  ^ "County review ordered". The Times. 18 March 1989. 

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