Local Government Act 1972
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The Local Government Act 1972 (c. 70) is an Act of the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It meets at the Palace of We ...
that reformed
local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word government refers specifically to a level of administration that is both geographically-loca ...
in
England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is Engli ...
on 1 April 1974. It was one of the most significant Acts of Parliament to be passed by the Heath Government of 1970–74. Its pattern of two-tier metropolitan and non-metropolitan county and
district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by the local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or county, counties, several municipality, municipa ...
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 have been replaced with
unitary authorities A unitary authority is a local authority Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word government refers specifically to a level of adm ...
in many areas since the 1990s. In Wales, too, the Act established a similar pattern of counties and
districts A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by the local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or county, counties, several municipality, municipa ...
, but these have since been entirely replaced with a system of unitary authorities.
Elections An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative ...
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 council A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries. Ireland The county councils created under British rule in 1899 continue to exist in Irela ...
s 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 borough County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control, similar to the Unitary authorities of England, unitary authorities created si ...
s, were politically independent from the counties in which they were physically situated. The county areas were two-tier, with many
municipal borough Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974, in Northern Ireland from 1840 to 1973 and in the Republic of Ireland from 1840 to 2002. Broadly similar structures existed in S ...
s, urban districts and
rural district Rural districts were a type of local government area – now superseded – established at the end of the 19th century in England, Wales, and Ireland for the administration of predominantly rural areas at a level lower than that of the Ad ...
s 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 borough A metropolitan borough (or metropolitan district) is a type of districts of England, local government district in England. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, metropolitan boroughs are defined in English law as metropolitan distric ...
s in the
County of London The County of London was a county of England from 1889 to 1965, corresponding to the area known today as Inner London. It was created as part of the general introduction of elected county government in England, by way of the Local Government A ...
) had been the establishment in 1965 of
Greater London Greater London is an Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England#Greater London, administrative area in England governed by the Greater London Authority. It is organised into 33 Districts of England, local government districts: the ...
and its thirty-two
London borough The London boroughs are the 32 local authority districts that together with the City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government dis ...
s, covering a much larger area than the previous
county of London The County of London was a county of England from 1889 to 1965, corresponding to the area known today as Inner London. It was created as part of the general introduction of elected county government in England, by way of the Local Government A ...
. 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 Huntingdon and Peterborough was a short-lived administrative county, administrative and Geographical counties of England, geographical county in East Anglia in the United Kingdom. It existed from 1965 to 1974, when it became part of Cambridgesh ...
and
Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely was, from 1965 to 1974, an administrative county, administrative and Geographical counties of England, geographical county in East Anglia in the United Kingdom. In 1974 it became part of an enlarged Cambridgeshire. ...
, and creating several contiguous county boroughs in the
Black Country The Black Country is an area of the West Midlands (county), West Midlands county, England covering most of the Metropolitan Boroughs of Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, Dudley, Sandwell and Metropolitan Borough of Walsall, Walsall. Metropolitan ...
. However, most of the commission's recommendations, such as its proposals to abolish
Rutland Rutland () is a ceremonial Counties of England, county and unitary authority in the East Midlands, England. The county is bounded to the west and north by Leicestershire, to the northeast by Lincolnshire and the southeast by Northamptonshi ...
or to reorganise
Tyneside Tyneside is a List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, built-up area across the banks of the River Tyne, England, River Tyne in northern England. Residents of the area are commonly referred to as Geordies. The whole area is surrounded by the No ...
, were ignored in favour of the status quo. 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, 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 Staffordshire (; postal abbreviation Staffs.) is a landlocked Counties of England, county in the West Midlands (region), West Midlands region of England. It borders Cheshire to the northwest, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwicks ...
,
Warwickshire Warwickshire (; abbreviated Warks) is a Counties of England, county in the West Midlands (region), West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, and the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of W ...
, and
Worcestershire Worcestershire ( , ; written abbreviation: Worcs) is a Counties of England, county in the West Midlands (region), West Midlands of England. The area that is now Worcestershire was absorbed into the unified Kingdom of England in 927, at which ...
), and eight county boroughs (
Birmingham Birmingham ( ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in the metropolitan county of West Midlands (county), West Midlands in England. It is the second-largest city in the United Kingdom with a population of 1. ...
,
Coventry Coventry ( or ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, city in the West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England. It is on the River Sherbourne. Coventry has been a large settlement for centuries, although it was not founded and given its ...
,
Dudley Dudley is a large market town and administrative centre in the county of West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England, southeast of Wolverhampton and northwest of Birmingham. Historically an Enclave and exclave, exclave of Worcestershire, t ...
,
Solihull Solihull (, or ) is a market town and the administrative centre of the wider Metropolitan Borough of Solihull in West Midlands County, England. The town had a population of 126,577 at the 2021 Census. Solihull is situated on the River Blyth ...
,
Walsall Walsall (, or ; locally ) is a market town and administrative centre in the West Midlands (county), West Midlands County, England. Historic counties of England, Historically part of Staffordshire, it is located north-west of Birmingham, east ...
, Warley,
West Bromwich West Bromwich ( ) is a market town in the borough of Sandwell, West Midlands (county), West Midlands, England. Historic counties of England, Historically part of Staffordshire, it is north-west of Birmingham. West Bromwich is part of the area ...
, and
Wolverhampton Wolverhampton () is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition ...
). 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 A unitary authority is a local authority Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word government refers specifically to a level of adm ...
for the whole of England, apart from three metropolitan areas of
Merseyside Merseyside ( ) is a metropolitan county, metropolitan and ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in North West England, with a population of List of ceremonial counties of England, 1.38 million. It encompasses both banks of the Merse ...
, SELNEC (South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire, now known as Greater Manchester) and West Midlands (
Birmingham Birmingham ( ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in the metropolitan county of West Midlands (county), West Midlands in England. It is the second-largest city in the United Kingdom with a population of 1. ...
and the
Black Country The Black Country is an area of the West Midlands (county), West Midlands county, England covering most of the Metropolitan Boroughs of Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, Dudley, Sandwell and Metropolitan Borough of Walsall, Walsall. Metropolitan ...
), 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 on a manifesto that committed it to a two-tier structure. The new government made Peter Walker and
Graham Page Sir Rodney Graham Page (30 June 1911 – 1 October 1981) was a British Conservative Party politician. Biography Page was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford Magdalen College (, ) is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent ...
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, an advocacy group representing the boroughs, responded to Redcliffe-Maud by putting forward a scheme where England outside London would be divided into 13 provinces, with 132 main authorities below that. The AMC argued that the Redcliffe-Maud units would be too far removed from the people they served, and suggested units that in some places were much smaller in size.
The Times ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
gave the example of Kent, which under Redcliffe-Maud would have consisted of two unitary authorities, the smaller having a population of 499,000 (as of 1968), while the AMC proposal would divide the same area into seven local authorities, ranging in population from 161,000 to 306,000.


White Paper and Bill

The incoming government's proposals for England were presented in a White Paper published in February 1971. 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.Wood, Bruce. ''Process of Local Government Reform: 1966–1974''. 1976 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. The proposals were substantially changed with the introduction of the Bill into Parliament in November 1971: *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 Harrogate ( ) is a spa town and the administrative centre of the Borough of Harrogate in North Yorkshire, England. Historic counties of England, Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town is a tourist destination and its visitor at ...
and
Knaresborough Knaresborough ( ) is a market town, market and spa town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in the Harrogate (borough), Borough of Harrogate, in North Yorkshire, England, on the River Nidd. It is east of Harrogate. History Knaresbor ...
had been included in district 6b (Leeds) *
Dronfield Dronfield is a town in North East Derbyshire, England, which includes Dronfield Woodhouse and Coal Aston. It lies in the valley of the River Drone between Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Chesterfield and Sheffield. The Peak District National Park is ...
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 The West Riding of Yorkshire is one of three historic subdivisions of Yorkshire, England. From 1889 to 1974 the administrative county County of York, West Riding (the area under the control of West Riding County Council), abbreviated County ...
than were eventually included *Area 11 (Merseyside) did not include
Southport Southport is a seaside resort, seaside town in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton in Merseyside, England. At the United Kingdom Census 2001, 2001 census, it had a population of 90,336, making it the List of North West England cities and metro ...
, but did include
Ellesmere Port Ellesmere Port ( ) is a port town in the Cheshire West and Chester borough in Cheshire, England. Ellesmere Port is on the south eastern edge of the Wirral Peninsula, north of Chester, south of Birkenhead, southwest of Runcorn and south of ...
and
Neston Neston is a town and civil parish on the Wirral Peninsula, in Cheshire, England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to i ...
*Area 12 (Greater Manchester) lost
New Mills New Mills is a town in the Borough of High Peak, Derbyshire, England, south-east of Stockport and from Manchester at the confluence of the River Goyt and River Sett, Sett. It is close to the border with Cheshire and above the Torrs, a deep go ...
and
Whaley Bridge Whaley Bridge () is a town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in the High Peak Borough Council, High Peak district of Derbyshire, England. It is situated on the River Goyt, south-east of Manchester, north of Buxton, north-east of Macc ...
(to be with Stockport), and Glossop (to be in
Tameside The Metropolitan Borough of Tameside is a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester in England. It is named after the River Tame, Greater Manchester, River Tame, which flows through the borough, and includes the towns of Ashton-under-Lyne, Aud ...
) *The Seisdon Rural District, which formed a narrow peninsula of Staffordshire running between Shropshire and the Black Country
county borough County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control, similar to the Unitary authorities of England, unitary authorities created si ...
s, 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 is a town in the Borough of Erewash, Erewash district of Derbyshire, England, just north of the River Trent, about south-west of Nottingham and some 8½ miles (13.7 km) south-east of Derby. The town population was 37,760 at the ...
from Derbyshire *Area 26 (Avon) to have covered a larger area, including
Frome Frome ( ) is a town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in eastern Somerset, England. The town is built on uneven high ground at the eastern end of the Mendip Hills, and centres on the River Frome, Somerset, River Frome. The town, abou ...
*Area 31 (Norfolk) to have covered a large area of East Suffolk, including
Beccles Beccles ( ) is a market town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in the English county of Suffolk.OS Explorer Map OL40: The Broads: (1:25 000) : . The town is shown on the milestone as from London via the A145 road, A145 and A12 road (G ...
,
Bungay Bungay () is a market town, civil parish and Wards and electoral divisions of the United Kingdom, electoral ward in the English county of Suffolk.OS Explorer Map OL40: The Broads: (1:25 000) : . It lies in the Waveney Valley, west of Beccles ...
,
Halesworth Halesworth is a market town A market town is a Human settlement, settlement most common in Europe that obtained by custom or royal charter, in the Middle Ages, a market right, which allowed it to host a regular marketplace, market; this d ...
,
Lowestoft Lowestoft ( ) is a coastal town and civil parish in the East Suffolk (district), East Suffolk district of Suffolk, England.OS Explorer Map OL40: The Broads: (1:25 000) : . As the List of extreme points of the United Kingdom, most easterly UK se ...
,
Southwold Southwold is a seaside town and civil parish on the English North Sea coast in the East Suffolk (district), East Suffolk district of Suffolk. It lies at the mouth of the River Blyth, Suffolk, River Blyth within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB ...
, Lothingland Rural District, and Wainford Rural District *Area 33 (Oxfordshire) to include
Brackley Brackley is a market town and civil parishes in England, civil parish in West Northamptonshire, England, bordering Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, from Oxford and from Northampton. Historically a market town based on the wool and lace trade, ...
and Brackley Rural District from Northamptonshire *Area 39 (Berkshire) to include
Henley-on-Thames Henley-on-Thames ( ) is a town status in the United Kingdom, town and Civil parishes in England, civil parish on the River Thames in Oxfordshire, England, northeast of Reading, Berkshire, Reading, west of Maidenhead, England, Maidenhead, sou ...
and Henley Rural District from Oxfordshire *Area 40 (Surrey) to include
Aldershot Aldershot () is a town in Hampshire, England. It lies on heathland in the extreme northeast corner of the county, southwest of London. The area is administered by Rushmoor Borough Council. The town has a population of 37,131, while the Farnbo ...
, Farnborough,
Fleet Fleet may refer to: Vehicles *Fishing fleet *Naval fleet *Fleet vehicles, a pool of motor vehicles *Fleet Aircraft, the aircraft manufacturing company Places Canada *Fleet, Alberta, Canada, a hamlet England *Chesil Beach#The Fleet Lagoon, The ...
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 The Humber is a large tidal estuary on the east coast of Northern England. It is formed at Trent Falls, Faxfleet, by the confluence of the tidal rivers River Ouse, Yorkshire, Ouse and River Trent, Trent. From there to the North Sea, it for ...
, and the inclusion of
Harwich Harwich is a town in Essex, England, and one of the Haven ports on the North Sea coast. It is in the Tendring District, Tendring district. Nearby places include Felixstowe to the north-east, Ipswich to the north-west, Colchester to the south-w ...
and
Colchester Colchester ( ) is a city status in the United Kingdom, city in Essex, in the East of England. It had a population of 122,000 in 2011. The demonym is Colcestrian. Colchester occupies the site of Camulodunum, the first Colonia (Roman), major c ...
in Suffolk to unify the Stour Estuary. The latter was removed from the Bill before it became law. Proposals from
Plymouth Plymouth () is a port city status in the United Kingdom, city and unitary authority in South West England. It is located on the south coast of Devon, approximately south-west of Exeter and south-west of London. It is bordered by Cornwall to ...
for a Tamarside county were rejected. The Bill also provided names for the new counties for the first time. 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) *renaming of Teesside to
Cleveland Cleveland ( ), officially the City of Cleveland, is a city in the United States, U.S. U.S. state, state of Ohio and the county seat of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Cuyahoga County. Located in the northeastern part of the state, it is situated along ...
, exclusion of
Whitby Whitby is a seaside town, port and civil parish in the Borough of Scarborough, Scarborough borough of North Yorkshire, England. Situated on the east coast of Yorkshire at the mouth of the River Esk, North Yorkshire, River Esk, Whitby has a mar ...
*renaming of Tyneside to
Tyne and Wear Tyne and Wear () is a metropolitan county in North East England, situated around the mouths of the rivers River Tyne, Tyne and River Wear, Wear. It was created in 1974, by the Local Government Act 1972, along with five metropolitan boroughs of ...
*removal of
Seaham Seaham is a seaside town in County Durham (district), County Durham, England. Located on the Durham Coast, Seaham is situated south of Sunderland and east of Durham, England, Durham. The town grew from the late 19th century onwards as a ...
from Tyne and Wear, keeping it in County Durham *removal of Skelmersdale and Holland from Merseyside – they were to be part of the independent district of Southport, before Southport was included within Merseyside *exclusion of
Colchester Colchester ( ) is a city status in the United Kingdom, city in Essex, in the East of England. It had a population of 122,000 in 2011. The demonym is Colcestrian. Colchester occupies the site of Camulodunum, the first Colonia (Roman), major c ...
and area from
Suffolk Suffolk () is a ceremonial Counties of England, county of England in East Anglia. It borders Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south; the North Sea lies to the east. The county town is Ipswich; other important t ...
, kept in
Essex Essex () is a Ceremonial counties of England, county in the East of England. One of the home counties, it borders Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to the north, the North Sea to the east, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent across the estuary of the Riv ...
*exclusion of Newmarket and Haverhill from
Cambridgeshire Cambridgeshire (abbreviated Cambs.) is a Counties of England, county in the East of England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the north-east, Suffolk to the east, Essex and Hertfordshire to the south, and Bedfordshire and North ...
, kept in Suffolk (despite protests of Newmarket UDC, which was happy to see the town transferred to Cambridgeshire) *keeping the
Isle of Wight The Isle of Wight ( ) is a Counties of England, county in the English Channel, off the coast of Hampshire, from which it is separated by the Solent. It is the List of islands of England#Largest islands, largest and List of islands of England#Mo ...
independent of Hampshire *adding part of Lothingland Rural District from Suffolk to
Norfolk Norfolk () is a ceremonial county, ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in East Anglia in England. It borders Lincolnshire to the north-west, Cambridgeshire to the west and south-west, and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern bounda ...
. 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). 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 in Dorset. The amendment was withdrawn. The government lost divisions in the House of Lords at Report Stage on the exclusion of
Wilmslow Wilmslow ( ) is a market town and civil parish in the unitary authority of Cheshire East in Cheshire, England, south of Manchester city centre. The population was 24,497 at the 2011 Census. History Toponymy Wilmslow derives its name from Old ...
and
Poynton Poynton is a town in Cheshire, England, on the easternmost fringe of the Cheshire Plain, south-east of Manchester, north of Macclesfield and south of Stockport. Poynton has formed part of the Cheshire East unitary authority since the abolit ...
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, then overturned by the Lords.) Instead, the Wakefield district gained the town of
Ossett Ossett is a market town in the City of Wakefield metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. Historic counties of England, Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is situated between Dewsbury, Horbury and Wakefield. At the 2 ...
, which was originally placed in the
Kirklees Kirklees is a local government district of West Yorkshire West Yorkshire is a metropolitan and ceremonial county in the Yorkshire and Humber Region of England. It is an inland and upland county having eastward-draining valleys while t ...
district, following an appeal by Ossett Labour Party. The government barely won a division in the Lords on the inclusion of
Weston-super-Mare Weston-super-Mare, also known simply as Weston, is a seaside town in North Somerset, England. It lies by the Bristol Channel south-west of Bristol between Worlebury Hill and Bleadon Hill. It includes the suburbs of Mead Vale, Milton, Oldmixon ...
in Avon, by 42 to 41. Two more metropolitan districts were created than were originally in the Bill: *
Rochdale Rochdale ( ) is a large town in Greater Manchester, England, at the foothills of the South Pennines in the dale (landform), dale on the River Roch, northwest of Oldham and northeast of Manchester. It is the administrative centre of the Metro ...
and Bury were originally planned to form a single district (dubbed "Botchdale" by local MP Michael Fidler); Rochdale took Middleton from Oldham in compensation. * Knowsley was not originally planned, and was formed from the western part of the planned St Helens district. As passed, the Act would have included Charlwood and
Horley Horley is a town in the borough of Reigate and Banstead in Surrey, England, south of the towns of Reigate and Redhill, Surrey, Redhill. The county border with West Sussex is to the south with Crawley and Gatwick Airport close to the town. It ...
in
West Sussex West Sussex is a Counties of England, county in South East England on the English Channel coast. The Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county comprises the Non-metropolitan district, shire districts of Adur District, Adur, Arun Distr ...
, along with
Gatwick Airport Gatwick Airport (), also known as London Gatwick , is a major international airport near Crawley, West Sussex, England, south of Central London. In 2021, Gatwick was the third-busiest airport by List of busiest airports in the United Kingdo ...
. 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 is a non-metropolitan district, local government district in Surrey, England. Its council is based in Dorking. The other town in the district is Leatherhead. The largest villages are Ashtead, Fetcham and Great Bookham, in the north ...
district and Horley part of
Reigate and Banstead Reigate and Banstead is a Non-metropolitan district, local government district with borough status in east Surrey, England. It includes the towns of Reigate, Surrey, Reigate, Redhill, Surrey, Redhill, Horley and Banstead. The borough borders the ...
. Gatwick Airport was still transferred. Although willing to compromise on exact boundaries, the government stood firm on the existence or abolition of county councils. The
Isle of Wight The Isle of Wight ( ) is a Counties of England, county in the English Channel, off the coast of Hampshire, from which it is separated by the Solent. It is the List of islands of England#Largest islands, largest and List of islands of England#Mo ...
(originally scheduled to be merged back into
Hampshire Hampshire (, ; abbreviated to Hants) is a ceremonial county, ceremonial and non-metropolitan county, non-metropolitan counties of England, county in western South East England on the coast of the English Channel. Home to two major English citi ...
as a district) was the only local campaign to succeed, and also the only county council in England to violate the 250,000 minimum for education authorities.Redcliffe-Maud & Wood, B., ''English Local Government Reformed'', (1974) 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
Rutland Rutland () is a ceremonial Counties of England, county and unitary authority in the East Midlands, England. The county is bounded to the west and north by Leicestershire, to the northeast by Lincolnshire and the southeast by Northamptonshi ...
and
Herefordshire Herefordshire () is a county in the West Midlands of England, governed by Herefordshire Council. It is bordered by Shropshire to the north, Worcestershire to the east, Gloucestershire Gloucestershire ( abbreviated Glos) is a Count ...
failed, although Rutland was able to secure its treatment as a single district despite not meeting the stated minimum population of 40,000 for districts. Several metropolitan boroughs fell under the 250,000 limit, including three of
Tyne and Wear Tyne and Wear () is a metropolitan county in North East England, situated around the mouths of the rivers River Tyne, Tyne and River Wear, Wear. It was created in 1974, by the Local Government Act 1972, along with five metropolitan boroughs of ...
's five boroughs (
North Tyneside North Tyneside is a metropolitan borough in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear, England. It forms part of the greater Tyneside conurbation. North Tyneside Council is headquartered at Cobalt Park, Wallsend. North Tyneside is bordered by N ...
,
South Tyneside South Tyneside is a metropolitan borough in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear, North East England. It is bordered by all four other boroughs in Tyne and Wear – Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead, Gateshead to the west, City of Sunderl ...
and
Gateshead Gateshead () is a large town in northern England. It is on the River Tyne's southern bank, opposite Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle to which it is joined by seven bridges. The town contains the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Sage ...
), and the four metropolitan boroughs that had resulted from the splitting of the proposed Bury/
Rochdale Rochdale ( ) is a large town in Greater Manchester, England, at the foothills of the South Pennines in the dale (landform), dale on the River Roch, northwest of Oldham and northeast of Manchester. It is the administrative centre of the Metro ...
and Knowsley/ St Helens 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 The Welsh Office ( cy, Swyddfa Gymreig) was a department in the Government of the United Kingdom with responsibilities for Wales. It was established in April 1965 to execute government policy in Wales, and was headed by the Secretary of State f ...
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 Swansea (; cy, Abertawe ) is a coastal City status in the United Kingdom, city and the List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, second-largest city of Wales. It forms a Principal areas of Wales, principal area, officially known as the City ...
,
Cardiff Cardiff (; cy, Caerdydd ) is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of Wales. It forms a Principal areas of Wales, principal area, officially known as the City and County of Cardiff ( cy, Dinas a ...
and Newport would be retained, but the small county borough of
Merthyr Tydfil Merthyr Tydfil (; cy, Merthyr Tudful ) is the main town in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough, Wales, administered by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council. It is about north of Cardiff. Often called just Merthyr, it is said to be named after Tydf ...
would become a district. The proposed counties were as follows *
Dyfed Dyfed () is a preserved county in southwestern Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to th ...
– West Wales –
Cardiganshire Ceredigion ( , , ) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the West Wales, west of Wales, corresponding to the Historic counties of Wales, historic county of Cardiganshire. During the second half of the 1st millennium, first ...
,
Carmarthenshire Carmarthenshire ( cy, Sir Gaerfyrddin; or informally ') is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the South West Wales, south-west of Wales. The three largest towns are Llanelli, Carmarthen and Ammanford. Carmarthen is the c ...
,
Pembrokeshire Pembrokeshire ( ; cy, Sir Benfro ) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the South West Wales, south-west of Wales. It is bordered by Carmarthenshire to the east, Ceredigion to the northeast, and the rest by sea. The count ...
*
Glamorgan , HQ = Cardiff , Government = Glamorgan County Council (1889–1974) , Origin= , Code = GLA , CodeName = Chapman code , Replace = * West Glamorgan * Mid Glamorgan * South Glamorgan , Mo ...
– South Wales * Gwent – South-East Wales –
Monmouthshire Monmouthshire ( cy, Sir Fynwy) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the South East Wales, south-east of Wales. The name derives from the Monmouthshire (historic), historic county of the same name; the modern county covers th ...
(also including Rhymney valley from Glamorgan) *
Gwynedd Gwynedd (; ) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county and preserved county (latter with differing boundaries; includes the Isle of Anglesey) in the North West Wales, north-west of Wales. It shares borders with Powys, Conwy County B ...
– North Wales –
Anglesey Anglesey (; cy, (Ynys) Môn ) is an island off the north-west coast of Wales. It forms a Local government in Wales, principal area known as the Isle of Anglesey, that includes Holy Island, Anglesey, Holy Island across the narrow Cymyran Strai ...
, Caernarvonshire,
Denbighshire Denbighshire ( ; cy, Sir Ddinbych; ) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the North East Wales, north-east of Wales. Its borders differ from the Denbighshire (historic), historic county of the same name. This part of Wales ...
,
Flintshire , settlement_type = Local government in Wales#Principal areas, County , image_skyline = , image_alt = , image_caption = , image_flag = , imag ...
,
Merionethshire Merionethshire or Merioneth ( cy, Meirionnydd or ') is one of thirteen historic counties of Wales, a Watsonian vice-counties, vice county and a former administrative county. Name The spelling of the name in standard modern Welsh language, Welsh or ...
*
Powys Powys (; ) is a county and preserved county in Wales. It is named after the Kingdom of Powys which was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain ...
– Mid Wales –
Montgomeryshire Montgomeryshire, also known as ''Maldwyn'' ( cy, Sir Drefaldwyn meaning "the Shire of Baldwin's town"), is one of thirteen historic counties of Wales, historic counties and a former administrative county of Wales. It is named after its county tow ...
,
Radnorshire Radnorshire ( cy, Sir Faesyfed) is one of the thirteen historic counties of Wales and a former administrative county. It covers a sparsely populated area in mid Wales. The historic county was bounded to the north by Montgomeryshire and Shropshire, ...
,
Breconshire Brecknockshire ( cy, Sir Frycheiniog), also known as the County of Brecknock, Breconshire, or the County of Brecon is one of thirteen historic counties of Wales, and a former administrative county. Named after its county town of Brecon (archaically ...
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 Clwyd () is a preserved counties of Wales, preserved county of Wales, situated in the north-east corner of the country; it is named after the River Clwyd, which runs through the area. To the north lies the Irish Sea, with the English ceremoni ...
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
Cardiff Cardiff (; cy, Caerdydd ) is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of Wales. It forms a Principal areas of Wales, principal area, officially known as the City and County of Cardiff ( cy, Dinas a ...
, who had requested the split) and Mid Glamorgan one of the poorest areas in the country. The Labour-controlled
Glamorgan County Council Glamorgan County Council was established in 1889 together with the administrative county of Glamorganshire under the Local Government Act 1888. The first elections to the council were held in January 1889. The council was abolished under the Local ...
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 , Government= South Glamorgan County Council South Glamorgan County Council ( cy, Cyngor Sir De Morgannwg) was the local government authority that administered the county of South Glamorgan, Wales from its creation in 1974 until its a ...
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 Monmouthshire ( cy, Sir Fynwy) is a Local government in Wales#Principal areas, county in the South East Wales, south-east of Wales. The name derives from the Monmouthshire (historic), historic county of the same name; the modern county covers th ...
as part of Wales.
Ambiguity Ambiguity is the type of meaning (linguistics), meaning in which a phrase, statement or resolution is not explicitly defined, making several interpretations wikt:plausible#Adjective, plausible. A common aspect of ambiguity is uncertainty. It ...
as to the status of Monmouthshire had been introduced by legislation in the 16th and 17th centuries, and by the gradual cultural
anglicisation Anglicisation is a form of cultural assimilation whereby something non-English becomes assimilated into, influenced by or dominated by Culture of England, Englishness or Culture of the United Kingdom, Britishness. It can be socio-cultural, wher ...
of some eastern parts of the county. By the late 19th century the area was often treated in legislation as one with Wales, using the terminology "Wales and Monmouthshire", although it remained legally part of England. Apart from the new Glamorgan authorities, all the names of the new Welsh counties were in the
Welsh language Welsh ( or ) is a Celtic language family, Celtic language of the Brittonic languages, Brittonic subgroup that is native to the Welsh people. Welsh is spoken natively in Wales, by some in England, and in Y Wladfa (the Welsh colony in Chubut P ...
, with no English equivalent. With the exception of
Clwyd Clwyd () is a preserved counties of Wales, preserved county of Wales, situated in the north-east corner of the country; it is named after the River Clwyd, which runs through the area. To the north lies the Irish Sea, with the English ceremoni ...
(which was named after the
River Clwyd The River Clwyd (Welsh language, Welsh: ''Afon Clwyd'') is a river in Wales that source (river), rises in the Clocaenog Forest () northwest of Corwen. Its total length is . It flows due south until, at Melin-y-wig, it veers north-eastwards, t ...
) 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.


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 borough A metropolitan borough (or metropolitan district) is a type of districts of England, local government district in England. Created in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, metropolitan boroughs are defined in English law as metropolitan distric ...
s instead. The allocation of functions differed between the metropolitan and the non-metropolitan areas (the so-called ' shire counties') – for example,
education Education is a purposeful activity directed at achieving certain aims, such as transmitting knowledge or fostering skills and character traits. These aims may include the development of understanding, rationality, kindness, and honesty ...
and
social services Social services are a range of public services intended to provide support and assistance towards particular groups, which commonly include the disadvantaged. They may be provided by individuals, Organization, private and independent organisations, ...
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 In England, a civil parish is a type of Parish (administrative division), administrative parish used for Local government in England, local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below district ...
councils, although in Wales they were renamed
community council A community council is a public representative body in Great Britain. In England they may be statutory Parish councils in England, parish councils by another name, under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, or they may ...
s. Within districts some inconsistency prevailed. For example, in Welwyn Hatfield District in Hertfordshire, which comprised Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield and Old Welwyn, Hatfield retained a civil parish council, its 'town council' which could act alone in some matters such as town twinning, whereas Welwyn Garden City did not and therefore had no separate representation. The Act introduced 'agency', where one local authority (usually a district) could act as an
agent Agent may refer to: Espionage, investigation, and law *, spies or intelligence officers * Law of agency, laws involving a person authorized to act on behalf of another ** Agent of record, a person with a contractual agreement with an insuranc ...
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 An alderman is a member of a Municipal government, municipal assembly or council in many Jurisdiction, jurisdictions founded upon English law. The term may be titular, denoting a high-ranking member of a borough or county council, a council membe ...
. The office previously known as sheriff was retitled high sheriff. Many existing boroughs that were too small to constitute a district, but too large to constitute a
civil parish In England, a civil parish is a type of Parish (administrative division), administrative parish used for Local government in England, local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below district ...
, were given
charter trustees In England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the ...
. 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 London Government Act 1963 (c. 33) is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which created Greater London and a new local government structure within it. The Act significantly reduced the number of local government ...
.


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 In many countries, a statutory instrument is a form of delegated legislation. United Kingdom Statutory instruments are the principal form of delegated legislation, delegated or secondary legislation in the United Kingdom. National governmen ...
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
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
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.Her Majesty's Stationery Office, ''Aspects of Britain: Local Government'', (1996) The 13
historic counties of Wales The historic counties of Wales are sub-divisions of Wales. They were used for various functions for several hundred years,Bryne, T., ''Local Government in Britain'', (1994) but for administrative purposes have been superseded by contemporary P ...
, 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 A ceremony (, ) is a unified ritualistic event with a purpose, usually consisting of a number of artistic components, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan language, Etruscan origin, via the Latin ''Glossary of ancient Rom ...
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 The Duchy of Lancaster is the private estate of the British sovereign as Duke of Lancaster. The principal purpose of the estate is to provide a source of independent income to the sovereign. The estate consists of a portfolio of lands, propert ...
to appoint Lord-Lieutenants for the shrunken
Lancashire Lancashire ( , ; abbreviated Lancs) is the name of a Historic counties of England, historic county, Ceremonial County, ceremonial county, and non-metropolitan county in North West England. The boundaries of these three areas differ significa ...
along with all of
Greater Manchester Greater Manchester is a metropolitan county and combined authority, combined authority area in North West England, with a population of 2.8 million; comprising ten metropolitan boroughs: City of Manchester, Manchester, City of Salford, Salford ...
and
Merseyside Merseyside ( ) is a metropolitan county, metropolitan and ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in North West England, with a population of List of ceremonial counties of England, 1.38 million. It encompasses both banks of the Merse ...
. In England before the passing of the Act there had been 1086 rural and urban districts (including non-county boroughs) and 79 county boroughs. The number of districts was reduced about fourfold. Most of the new districts were groups of the whole areas of former districts, although 64 rural districts were split between new districts, and there were eleven urban districts or boroughs which saw their territory split between new districts: Teesside County Borough,
Whitley Bay Whitley Bay is a seaside town A seaside resort is a resort town, town, village, or hotel that serves as a Resort, vacation resort and is located on a coast. Sometimes the concept includes an aspect of official accreditation based on the satisfac ...
Municipal Borough, Ashton-in-Makerfield Urban District, Billinge and Winstanley Urban District,
Golborne Golborne (pronounced or ) is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, in Greater Manchester, England. It lies south-southeast of Wigan, northeast of Warrington and to the west of the city of Manchester. Combined with the village of Lowto ...
Urban District, Lakes Urban District, Queensbury and Shelf Urban District, Ramsbottom Urban District, Seaton Valley Urban District,
Thurrock Urban District Thurrock was a local government district and civil parish in south Essex, England from 1936 to 1974. The parish and urban district was formed from the former area of the following civil parishes which had been abolished in 1936: *From Grays Thur ...
, and
Turton Urban District Turton Urban District was, from 1873 to 1974, a local government district centred on the historical area of Turton, Lancashire, Turton in the administrative counties of England, administrative county of Lancashire, England. History Background ...
.


England


Metropolitan counties


Metropolitan districts


Non-metropolitan counties


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) *Devon: Torridge/
North Devon North Devon is a Non-metropolitan district, local government district in Devon, England. North Devon Council is based in Barnstaple. Other towns and villages in the North Devon District include Braunton, Fremington, Devon, Fremington, Ilfracom ...
*Dorset :
Weymouth and Portland Weymouth and Portland was a local government district The districts of England (also known as local authority districts or local government districts to distinguish from unofficial city districts) are a level of Subdivisions of England, s ...
/ Purbeck,
North Dorset North Dorset was a local government district The districts of England (also known as local authority districts or local government districts to distinguish from unofficial city districts) are a level of Subdivisions of England, subnationa ...
/
East Dorset East Dorset was a Non-metropolitan district, local government district in Dorset, England. Its council met in Wimborne Minster between 2016 and 2019. The district (as Wimborne) was formed on 1 April 1974 by merging Wimborne Minster Urban Dist ...
*Durham :
Wear Valley Wear Valley was, from 1974 to 2009, a Non-metropolitan district, local government district in County Durham, England. Its council and district capital was Crook, County Durham, Crook. The district covered much of the Weardale area. In the wes ...
/
Teesdale Teesdale is a dale, or valley, in Northern England. The dale is in the River Tees’s drainage basin A drainage basin is an area of land where all flowing surface water converges to a single point, such as a river mouth, or flows in ...
*Hereford and Worcester :
Hereford Hereford () is a cathedral city, civil parish and the county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately east of the border with Wales, south-west of Worcester, England, Worcester and north-west of Gloucester. ...
/
South Herefordshire South Herefordshire was one of nine Districts of England, local government districts of the England, English county of Hereford and Worcester from 1974 to 1998. History South Herefordshire District was formed on 1 April 1974 as part of a general ...
/
Leominster Leominster ( ) is a market town in Herefordshire, England, at the confluence of the River Lugg and its tributary the River Kenwater. The town is north of Hereford and south of Ludlow in Shropshire. With a population of 11,700, Leominster is t ...
*Humberside:
Holderness Holderness is an area of the East Riding of Yorkshire, on the north-east coast of England. An area of rich agricultural land, Holderness was marshland until it was drained in the Middle Ages. topography, Topographically, Holderness has more in ...
/ North Wolds *Isle of Wight: South Wight/
Medina Medina,, ', "the radiant city"; or , ', (), "the city" officially Al Madinah Al Munawwarah (, , Turkish: Medine-i Münevvere) and also commonly simplified as Madīnah or Madinah (, ), is the second-holiest city in Islam Islam (; ar, ...
*Lancashire:
Hyndburn Hyndburn is a Non-metropolitan district, local government district with borough status in the United Kingdom, borough status in Lancashire, England. Its council is based in Accrington and covers the outlying towns of Clayton-le-Moors, Great Ha ...
/ Rossendale *Leicestershire :
Rutland Rutland () is a ceremonial Counties of England, county and unitary authority in the East Midlands, England. The county is bounded to the west and north by Leicestershire, to the northeast by Lincolnshire and the southeast by Northamptonshi ...
/ Melton, Harborough/ Oadby and Wigston *Lincolnshire:
Boston Boston (), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, state capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as the cultural and financ ...
/
South Holland South Holland ( nl, Zuid-Holland ) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, state. The term derives from the ancient Roman ''Roman province, provincia'', which was the major t ...
*Northamptonshire:
Daventry Daventry ( , historically ) is a market town and civil parish in the West Northamptonshire unitary authority in Northamptonshire, England, close to the border with Warwickshire. At the United Kingdom census, 2021, 2021 Census Daventry had a p ...
/ South Northamptonshire *Northumberland :
Berwick-upon-Tweed Berwick-upon-Tweed (), sometimes known as Berwick-on-Tweed or simply Berwick, is a town and civil parish in Northumberland, England, south of the Anglo-Scottish border, and the northernmost town in England. The 2011 United Kingdom census recor ...
/
Alnwick Alnwick ( ) is a market town in Northumberland, England, of which it is the traditional county town. The population at the 2011 Census was 8,116. The town is on the south bank of the River Aln, south of Berwick-upon-Tweed and the Scottish bord ...
*Shropshire :
Oswestry Oswestry ( ; ) is a market town, civil parish and historic railway town in Shropshire, England, close to the England–Wales border, Welsh border. It is at the junction of the A5 road (Great Britain), A5, A483 road, A483 and A495 road, A495 ro ...
/ North Shropshire,
Bridgnorth Bridgnorth is a town in Shropshire, England. The River Severn splits it into High Town and Low Town, the upper town on the right bank and the lower on the left bank of the River Severn. The population at the United Kingdom Census 2011, 2011 Cen ...
/ South Shropshire *Somerset:
Taunton Deane Taunton Deane was a Non-metropolitan district, local government district with borough status in Somerset, England. Its council was based in Taunton. The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, by a merger of t ...
/
West Somerset West Somerset was a Non-metropolitan district, local government district in the English county of Somerset. The council covered a largely rural area, with a population of 34,900 in an area of ; it was the List of English districts by populatio ...
*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

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 The Council of the Isles of Scilly is a ''sui generis'' unitary local government authority covering the Isles of Scilly off the west coast of Cornwall. It is currently made up of 16 seats, with all councillors being Independent (politician), in ...
, 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


New counties


New districts


Map


Elections

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. 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. Schedule 3 provided that for each metropolitan ward, the councillor for who obtained the fewest votes in the 1973 election would retire in 1975, the next fewest 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

Health care Health care or healthcare is the improvement of health via the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, amelioration or cure A cure is a substance or procedure that ends a medical condition, such as a medication, a surgery, surgical operation, ...
and water supply / sanitation were assigned to new, separate, non-elected authorities. The remaining functions previously exercised by local authorities were distributed broadly as follows: In many areas both authorities had some powers, and 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 Sir Rodney Graham Page (30 June 1911 – 1 October 1981) was a British Conservative Party politician. Biography Page was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford Magdalen College (, ) is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent ...
, 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 re-examining 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 Wiltshire County Council (established in 1889) was the county council of Wiltshire in the South West of England, an elected local Government body responsible for most local government services in the county. As a result of the 2009 structural ...
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 ''The Times'' is a British Newspaper#Daily, daily Newspaper#National, national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its s ...
'' 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 Horse The Uffington White Horse is a Prehistoric Britain, prehistoric hill figure, long, formed from deep trenches filled with crushed white chalk. The figure is situated on the upper slopes of Whitehorse Hill, White Horse Hill in the English c ...
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 Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave, (;) (23 January 1916 – 30 March 1979) was a British soldier, lawyer and Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative in parliament of the people who live in their electoral dis ...
, who pointed out that the horse predated county boundaries, and by the chairman of the
Vale of White Horse The Vale of White Horse is a local government district The districts of England (also known as local authority districts or local government districts to distinguish from unofficial city districts) are a level of Subdivisions of England, s ...
District Council. Professor Anthony Fletcher, of the Department of Medieval History of the
University of Sheffield The University of Sheffield (informally Sheffield University or TUOS) is a public university, public research university in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. Its history traces back to the foundation of Sheffield Medical School in 1828, Firth C ...
, suggested that the new councils place signs at the boundaries of ancient counties. The removal of Gatwick Airport and the surrounding area from Surrey into West Sussex met some fierce local opposition with the result that the parishes of
Horley Horley is a town in the borough of Reigate and Banstead in Surrey, England, south of the towns of Reigate and Redhill, Surrey, Redhill. The county border with West Sussex is to the south with Crawley and Gatwick Airport close to the town. It ...
and Charlwood were subsequently returned to Surrey in the
eponymous An eponym is a person, a place, or a thing after whom or which someone or something is, or is believed to be, named. The adjectives which are derived from the word eponym include ''eponymous'' and ''eponymic''. Usage of the word The term ''epon ...
Charlwood and Horley Act 1974, leaving the airport to stay in West Sussex. Some of the reaction against the Act was motivated by opposition to loss of local control. The
county borough County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control, similar to the Unitary authorities of England, unitary authorities created si ...
councils regretted the loss of their independent status. 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. The names of some of the new authorities also caused controversy. At no point were local populations consulted about the changes. The two arguably most loathed new counties created were Humberside and Avon. Humberside united the north and south banks of the River Humber – in theory at least promoting cooperation of the ports of Kingston-upon-Hull, Grimsby and Immingham – carving territory out of the East Riding of Yorkshire and of northern Lindsey respectively. Avon lumped Bristol, formerly a county borough within Gloucestershire, together with Bath, a former county borough in Somerset. Both these creations were to disappear in further local government reforms in the 1990s.


Amendment and adaptation

The system established by the Act was not to last. In
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separa ...
a series of incremental measures amended it. First, the
county council A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries. Ireland The county councils created under British rule in 1899 continue to exist in Irela ...
s of the metropolitan counties, as well as the
Greater London Council The Greater London Council (GLC) was the top-tier local government administrative body for Greater London from 1965 to 1986. It replaced the earlier London County Council (LCC) which had covered a much smaller area. The GLC was dissolved in 198 ...
, were abolished in 1986 by Margaret Thatcher's government with the
Local Government Act 1985 The Local Government Act 1985 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom. Its main effect was to abolish the six county councils of the metropolitan county, metropolitan counties that had been set up in 1974, 11 years earlier, by the Local ...
, effectively re-establishing county borough status for the metropolitan boroughs. Second, a review of local government outside the metropolitan counties was announced in 1989. The local government reform in the 1990s led to the creation of many new
unitary authorities A unitary authority is a local authority Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word government refers specifically to a level of adm ...
, and the complete abolition of Avon,
Cleveland Cleveland ( ), officially the City of Cleveland, is a city in the United States, U.S. U.S. state, state of Ohio and the county seat of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Cuyahoga County. Located in the northeastern part of the state, it is situated along ...
, Hereford and Worcester and
Humberside Humberside () was a Non-metropolitan county, non-metropolitan and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in Northern England from 1 April 1974 until 1 April 1996. It was composed of land from either side of the Humber Estuary, create ...
. Names such as
Herefordshire Herefordshire () is a county in the West Midlands of England, governed by Herefordshire Council. It is bordered by Shropshire to the north, Worcestershire to the east, Gloucestershire Gloucestershire ( abbreviated Glos) is a Count ...
and the
East Riding of Yorkshire The East Riding of Yorkshire, or simply East Riding or East Yorkshire, is a ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and Unitary authorities of England, unitary authority area in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England. It borde ...
reappeared as local government entities, although often with new boundaries. Several former county boroughs such as
Derby Derby ( ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and Unitary authorities of England, unitary authority area in Derbyshire, England. It lies on the banks of the River Derwent, Derbyshire, River Derwent in the south of Derbyshire, which is ...
,
Leicester Leicester ( ) is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. Lo ...
and
Stoke-on-Trent Stoke-on-Trent (often abbreviated to Stoke) is a city and Unitary authorities of England, unitary authority area in Staffordshire, England, with an area of . In 2019, the city had an estimated population of 256,375. It is the largest settlement ...
regained unitary status. Additionally, another wave of unitary authorities was formed in 2009. In
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
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 Since 1 April 1996, Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celti ...
. The 1974 counties in Wales have been retained as preserved counties for various purposes, notably as ceremonial counties, albeit with substantive border revisions.


See also

* Local Government Boundary Commission for England (1972) *
Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 The Local Government (Northern Ireland) Act 1972 (1972 c. 9) was an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of Northern Ireland that constituted district councils to administer the twenty-six local government districts created by the Local Gover ...


References


External links


Text of the Act
{{Edward Heath United Kingdom Acts of Parliament 1972 Local government legislation in England and Wales Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom concerning England and Wales 1972 in England 1972 in Wales October 1972 events in the United Kingdom