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Districts of England

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Also known as:
Local authority district
Local government district
Districts of England.svg
CategoryAdministrative district
Found inCounties
Created byLocal Government Act 1972
London Government Act 1963
Createdmostly 1 April 1974
and 1 April 1965
some earlier (see text)
Number326 (as of 1 April 2009)
Possible typesMetropolitan (36)
Non-metropolitan (256)
 ∟Two-tier (201)
 ∟Unitary authority (55)
London borough (32)
sui generis (2)
Possible statusCity
Royal borough
Populations2,300 – 1.1 million
Areas3 – 5,013 km2
(1 – 1,936 sq mi)

The districts of England (also known as local authority districts or local government districts to distinguish from unofficial city districts) are a level of subnational division of England used for the purposes of local government.[1] As the structure of local government in England is not uniform, there are currently four principal types of district-level subdivision. There are a total of 326 districts made up of 36 metropolitan boroughs, 32 London boroughs, 201 non-metropolitan districts, 55 unitary authorities, as well as the City of London and the Isles of Scilly which are also districts, but do not correspond to any of these categories. Some districts are styled as boroughs, cities, or royal boroughs; these are purely honorific titles, and do not alter the status of the district. All boroughs and cities, and a few districts, are led by a mayor who in most cases is a ceremonial figure elected by the district council, but – after local government reform – is occasionally a directly elected mayor who makes most of the policy decisions instead of the council.

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Hello Internet The UK had an election we need to talk about because after the debates finished, the people voted and the ballots tallied the results were this: But parliament ended up looking like this: Which isn't, exactly, representative. And by not exactly, I mean at all. Red earned 30% of the vote and 36% of the seats, which is sort of close, but the rest is madness: Orange earned 8% of the vote but got one eighth of that while Yellow's 5% just about doubled, and purple earned 13% and got squat. Meanwhile blue's 37% of the people booted to 51% of the seats in parliament. The blue boost is even bigger when you consider that 51% of the seats gives basically 100% the control. How'd this happen? In the UK -- national elections aren't really national, they're a bunch of local elections. The UK is divided into constituencies, each of which elects one member of parliament (M.P.) to represent them. This local / national divide is where the trouble begins. Imagine a parliament with just three constituencies, and it's easy to see how it wouldn't always align with citizens. Some people think this sort of result is fine -- “it's all *about* winning local elections,” they’ll say. “Each M.P. represents their constituency.” And while the imbalance in this example is dumb, but it's the same problem in the real election and this same argument is given, but there are two more problems with it in reality land. 1) Few citizens have any idea who their MP is, they just know what party they voted for -- what party they want to represent their views on the national level. And pretending like it's a local election is a bit disingenuous. -- in practice it's an election for now the nation will run -- not really for who is going to represent a tiny part of it. and even if it were 2) The individual constituencies are worse at representing their citizens than parliament. Indulge this spreadsheet-loving nerd for a moment, will you? The difference between what a party earned at the polls and what they got in parliament is the amount of misrepresentation error. If we calculate all the errors for all the parties and add them up we can say the Parliament as a whole has 47% percentage points of misrepresentation error. That sounds bad looks like a utopian rainbow of diversity compared to any local election because the local elections have *one* winner. Out of the 650 constituencies 647 have a higher representation error than parliament. These are the only three that don't and they're really unusual for having so many of a single kind of voter in one place. Most places look the The Wrekin which is dead in the middle a mere one-hundred and one points off. Note that the winning candidate didn't reach a majority here. Which means more than half of constituencies elected their MP with a minority of voters. The worst is Belfast South at the bottom of the list. Hilariously unrepresentative. Less than a quarter of the voters get to speak for the entire place in parliament. This is the the lowest percentage an M.P. has ever been elected by. So when people argue that the UK election is a bunch of local elections 1) people don't act like it, and 2) It's even more of an argument that the elections are broken because they're worse on this level. These local elections are unrepresentative because of the terrible 'First Past the Post' voting system -- which I have complained mightily about and won't repeat everything here -- go watch the video -- but TL;DR it only 'works' when citizens are limited to two choices. Voting for any party except the biggest makes it more likely the biggest will win by a minority -- which is exactly what happened. That citizens keep voting for smaller parties despite knowing the result is against their strategic interests demonstrates the citizenry wants diverse representation -- but that successes is the very thing that's made this the most unrepresentative parliament in the history of the UK. People happy with the results argue the system is working fine -- of course they do. Their team won. Government isn't a sport where a singular 'winner' must be determined. It's a system to make rules that everyone follows and so, we need a system where everyone can agree the process is fair even if the results don't go in their favor. If you support a system that disenfranchises people you don't like and turbo-franchises people you do -- then it doesn't look like you sport representative democracy, it looks like you support a kind of dictatorship light. Where a small group of people (including you) makes the rules for everyone. But as it is now, on election day the more people express what they want the worse the system looks which makes them disengaged at best or angry at worst and GEE I CAN'T IMAGINE WHY. This is fixable, there are many, many better ways the UK could vote -- here are two that even keep local representatives. And fixing voting really matters, because this is a kind of government illegitimacy score -- and it's been going up and may continue to do so unless this fundamentally broken voting system is changed.



Prior to the establishment of districts in the 1890s, the basic unit of local government in England was the parish overseen by the parish church vestry committee. Vestries dealt with the administration of both parochial and secular governmental matters. Parishes were the successors of the manorial system and historically had been grouped into hundreds. Hundreds once exercised some supervising administrative function. However, these powers ebbed away as more and more civic and judicial powers were centred on county towns.[2] From 1834 these parishes were grouped into Poor Law Unions, creating areas for administration of the Poor Law. These areas were later used for census registration and as the basis for sanitary provision. In 1894, based on these earlier subdivisions, the Local Government Act 1894 created urban districts and rural districts as sub-divisions of administrative counties, which had been created in 1889. Another reform in 1900 created 28 metropolitan boroughs as sub-divisions of the County of London. Meanwhile, from this date parish-level local government administration was transferred to civil parishes.

The setting-down of the current structure of districts in England began in 1965, when Greater London and its 32 London boroughs were created. They are the oldest type of district still in use. In 1974, metropolitan counties and non-metropolitan counties (also known as "shire counties") were created across the rest of England and were split into metropolitan districts and non-metropolitan districts. The status of the London boroughs and metropolitan districts changed in 1986, when they absorbed the functions and some of the powers of the metropolitan county councils and the Greater London Council which were abolished. In London power is now shared again, albeit on a different basis, with the Greater London Authority.

During the 1990s a further kind of district was created, the unitary authority, which combined the functions and status of county and district.

Metropolitan boroughs

Metropolitan boroughs are a subdivision of a metropolitan county. These are similar to unitary authorities, as the metropolitan county councils were abolished in 1986. Most of the powers of the county councils were devolved to the districts but some services are run by joint boards and organisations. The districts typically have populations of 174,000 to 1.1 million.

Non-metropolitan district (shire district)

Non-metropolitan districts (also known as shire districts) are second-tier authorities, which share power with county councils. They are subdivisions of shire counties and the most common type of district. These districts typically have populations of 25,000 to 200,000.

In this two-tier system, county councils are responsible for some local services, such as education, social services, and roads, whilst district councils run other services, such as waste collection, local planning, and council housing.

The number of non-metropolitan districts has varied over time. Initially there were 296; after the creation of unitary authorities in the 1990s and late 2000s, their numbers were reduced to 201.

Unitary authorities

These are single-tier districts which are responsible for running all local services in their areas, combining both county and district functions. They were created in the mid-1990s out of non-metropolitan districts, and often cover large towns and cities as this is deemed to be more efficient than a two-tier structure. In addition, some of the smaller counties such as Rutland, Herefordshire and the Isle of Wight are unitary authorities. There are a total of 55 unitary authorities, including 9 introduced in 2009.

Unitary authorities are actually a slightly modified type of non-metropolitan district; most are established as individual counties containing a single district, with a district council but no county council. Berkshire is unusual, being a non-metropolitan county with no county council and six unitary authority districts. Cornwall, Durham, the Isle of Wight, Northumberland, Shropshire and Wiltshire were established as counties with a single district, but have non-metropolitan county councils with no district council. In practice, these function in the same way as other unitary authorities.

London boroughs

The London boroughs are sub-divisions of Greater London. They were established in 1965. Between 1965 and 1986 a two-tier structure of government existed in Greater London and the boroughs shared power with the Greater London Council (GLC). When the GLC was abolished in 1986 they gained similar status to the unitary authorities. In 2000 the Greater London Authority was established and a two-tier structure was restored, albeit with a change to the balance of powers and responsibilities.

Each London borough is responsible for many of the services within their area, such as schools, waste management, planning applications, social services, libraries and others.


See also


  1. ^ Local Authority Districts (2015) to Counties (2015) Eng lookup, ONS, Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  2. ^ Mapping the Hundreds of England and Wales in GIS University of Cambridge Department of Geography, published 06-06-08, accessed 12 October 2011
This page was last edited on 29 December 2018, at 23:45
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