A unitary authority is a local authority
for a place's borough
which is responsible for all local government
functions within its area or performs additional functions which elsewhere in the relevant country are usually performed by national government or a higher level of sub-national government.
Typically unitary authorities cover town
s or cities
which are large enough to function independently of a council
or other authority. An authority can be a unit of a county
or combined authority
In Canada, each province creates its own system of local government, so terminology varies substantially.
In certain provinces (e.g. Alberta
, Nova Scotia
) there is ''only'' one level of local government in that province, so no special term is used to describe the situation.
has only one such municipality, Northern Rockies Regional Municipality
, which was established in 2009.
the term single-tier municipalities is used, for a similar concept. Their character varies, and while most function as cities with no upper level of government, some function as counties or regional municipalities
with no lower municipal subdivisions below them. They exist as individual census divisions
, as well as separated municipalities
In Germany, kreisfreie Stadt
(literally ''circle-free city'') is the equivalent term for a city with the competences of both the Gemeinde
(municipality) and the Kreis
(district, literally ''circle'') administrative level. The directly elected chief executive officer of a ''kreisfreie Stadt'' is called ''Oberbürgermeister'' (literally ''Superior Burgomaster'', in English "Chief Mayor" or "Lord Mayor").
The British counties have no directly corresponding counterpart in Germany. This German system corresponds to statutory cities in Austria
and in the Czech Republic
Until 1 January 2007, the municipalities of Copenhagen
were not a part of a Danish county
The city of Paris
works like a department council and a municipal council. Administratively at state level, it is both a department with a single departmental arrondissement (not to be confused with the 20 city districts of Paris, or ''arrondissements municipaux'', which are local subdivisions existing in very populated municipalities, including Paris, Lyon and Marseille, with their own arrondissement councils and arrondissement mayors also elected during municipal elections), however the prefecture of Paris is split between the prefecture of police of Paris (which covers the 3 other surrounding departments in the first ring) and the department prefecture (which is also the region prefecture, whose competence on police does not cover the 4 departments of Paris and the small ring). As the department of Paris has no department council elected during departmental elections, it is not subdivided into ''cantons'', but its 20 districts are considered equivalent.
The department councils of the two departments of Corsica
and of the region merged into a unitary authority, officially a ''collectivité territoriale''. Its area of competence covers the whole administrative region and the two administrative departments (which were kept at state level with their two prefectures and their respective subprefectures for state-managed services).
The overseas departements and regions were all proposed to merge their single departmental council (''conseil départemental'') coexisting with their regional council (''conseil régional'') on the same territory (at state level they are unified as ''DROM'' for their prefectures) into a ''collectivité unique''. The proposal was rejected by local referendum in Guadeloupe
and in Réunion
, but this occurred in Martinique
and French Guiana
whose former departemental and regional councils were merged into a single unitary authority named ''assemblée'', elected during departmental elections. Mayotte
with its newer status of department chose to keep this designation for its unitary authority, named departmental council (no regional council was ever created), but which also has the competence of a regional council (plus a few specific competences transferred from the state like other French overseas).
The Métropole de Lyon
was created as a metropole from an earlier EPCI (public establishment of intercommunal cooperation) but gained the competences of the departmental council. The departmental council of Rhône only covers the rest of the administrative department (which is still subdivided into two subprefectures, one of which includes the métropole). So the metropole is not a unitary authority, and no longer an EPCI (like other French metropoles), but it has a specific status, considered equivalent to a department council, except that its seats are elected during the municipal French elections (at the same time as its municipal councils in each member ''commune''), and that (like departments and regions, but unlike other French EPCI's including other metropoles) it is a territorial collectivity, with legal personality and fiscal autonomy.
In New Zealand
, a unitary authority is a territorial authority
(district or city) that also performs the functions of a regional council
(first-level division). There are five unitary authorities; they are (with the year they were constituted): Gisborne District Council
(1989), Nelson City Council
(1992), Tasman District Council
(1992), Marlborough District Council
(1992), and Auckland Council
The Chatham Islands
, located east of the South Island
, have a council with its own special legislation, constituted (1995) with powers similar to those of a regional authority.
, a ''miasto na prawach powiatu'', or shortly ''powiat grodzki'' (''city with powiat
rights'', or ''urban county'' in short) is a, typically big, city which is also responsible for district (poviat) administrative level, being part of no other ''powiat'' (e.g. Kraków
). In total, 65 cities in Poland have this status.
, in contrast to counties
, have only one tier of local government. Unlike county-administered cities
, they are independent of their associated county. The three cities are Chiayi
, and Hsinchu
. Special municipalities
, with the exception of a few mountain indigenous districts
within them, are also unitary.
, "unitary authorities" are those local authorities set up in accordance with the Local Government Changes for England Regulations 1994 made under powers conferred by the Local Government Act 1992
to form a single tier of local government
in specified areas and which are responsible for almost all local government functions within such areas. While outwardly appearing to be similar, single-tier authorities formed using older legislation are not ''unitary authorities'' thus excluding e.g. the Council of the Isles of Scilly
or any other single-tier authority formed under the older legislation and not since given the status of a unitary authority.
This is distinct from the two-tier system of local government which still exists in most of England, where local government functions are divided between county council
s (the upper tier) and district
or borough councils. Until 1996 two-tier systems existed in Scotland
, but these have now been replaced by systems based on a single tier of local government with some functions shared between groups of adjacent authorities. A single-tier system has existed in Northern Ireland
For many years the description of the number of tiers in UK local government arrangements has routinely ignored any current or previous bodies at the lowest level of authorities elected by the voters within their area such as parish
(in England and Wales) or community councils; such bodies do not exist or have not existed in all areas.
Rest of the United Kingdom
The definitive description "unitary authority" is specific to England alone in UK legislation. Thus single-tier authorities elsewhere in the UK are not properly styled as unitary authorities; also their rights, privileges and responsibilities are not the same.
Northern Ireland is divided into eleven districts for local government purposes. In Northern Ireland local councils have no responsibility for education, road building or housing (though they do nominate members to the advisory Northern Ireland Housing Council
). Their functions include waste and recycling services
, leisure and community services, building control and local economic and cultural development. Since their reorganisation in 2015 councils in Northern Ireland have also taken on responsibility for planning functions. The collection of rates
is handled by the Land and Property Services
Local authorities in Scotland
are unitary in nature but not in name. The Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994
created a single tier of local government throughout Scotland. On 1 April 1996, 32 local government areas, each with a council
, replaced the previous two-tier structure
, which had regional, islands and district councils. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
(formerly the Western Isles Council) uses the alternative Gaelic
designation ''Comhairle''. While the phrase "unitary authority" is not used in Scottish legislation (whether from the Scottish Parliament or the UK Parliament), the term can be encountered (used either descriptively or erroneously) in a few official publications and in (usually erroneous) use by United Kingdom government departments.
Local authorities in Wales
are unitary in nature but are described by the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994
as "principal councils", and their areas as principal area
Various other legislation (e.g. s.91(1) Environment Act 1995) includes the counties and county boroughs of Wales within their individual interpretations of the phrase "unitary authority" as an interpretive not a definitive description. In s.2 of the Act each council formed for a county is allocated the respective English and Welsh descriptions of "County Council
" or "''Cyngor Sir''", each council formed for a County Borough
is allocated the respective descriptions of "County Borough Council" or "''Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol''"; in all cases the shorter alternative forms "Council" or ''"Cyngor"'' can be used.
There are several types of single-tier governments in the United States. In the states of Connecticut
, Rhode Island
, and much of Massachusetts
, county government has been abolished, and the municipalities (known as New England town
s) are the only governing tier below the state government, though the former counties still exist in the ceremonial sense. In some areas, the reverse is true; for example, Howard County, Maryland
and Arlington County, Virginia
are examples of counties that, despite being densely developed, have no municipalities and are thus the only tier of general-purpose local government.
In Virginia, all municipalities with ''city'' status are, by definition, independent from any county. Three other cities across the United States are also independent of any county government
: Baltimore, Maryland
, St. Louis, Missouri
, and Carson City, Nevada
. There are also several consolidated cities
where the county government and municipal government are unified. San Francisco
are two examples, wherein the city and county are coterminous and have one singular governing body.
The District of Columbia
has had no lower tiers of government since 1871. Arlington County
and Alexandria, Virginia
were returned to Virginia
in 1847. The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871
abolished all local governments including single remaining county
and its two municipalities, Washington and Georgetown
* Unitary state
Category:Interested parties in planning in the United Kingdom
Category:Local government in Canada
Category:Local government in the United Kingdom
Category:Politics of New Zealand