You are on page 1of 41

Local Government

in the United Kingdom

Corso di Laurea in
Amministrazione, Governo e Sviluppo Locale
Lingua Inglese II
Michela Giordano
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is the union
between the nations of England,
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The proper definition is the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland but this is shortened
to the United Kingdom, Great Britain
or just UK.

Local Government in UK

There is no single system of local

government in the United
Each constituent country
(England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland) has a different
system of local government.

2 systems of local government

There are two common systems of

local government in the UK:

the old-style two-tier system

the newer single-tier system

1) The old-style two-tier system
The older (and more complex) two-tier system consists of:

District Councils County Councils

responsible for responsible for
rubbish collection, education, social
granting planning services, libraries,
permission and main roads, trading
council housing, standards, some
leisure, local roads, public transport and
and environmental other local
health. functions.

2) The newer single-tier system

Unitary Authorities: have a single-tier

system (only one level) of local government,
and combine District and County Council
functions into one body.
In Greater London, a unique two-tier system
exists, with power shared between the
London borough councils, and the Greater
London Authority which is headed by an
elected Mayor.

Local Government in England

For the purposes of local government, England is

divided into four levels of administrative divisions:
Regional level
County level (Metropolitan county,
Shire county, Unitary authority,
Greater London)
District level (Metropolitan district,
Non-metropolitan district, London
Parish level (Civil Parish)

Administrative divisions

Regional level
England is divided into nine regions.
The regions were created in 1994.
Since the 1999 Euro-elections, they have
been used as England's European
Parliament constituencies.
The regions vary greatly in size, both in
their areas and their populations.
The region is currently the highest tier
(level) of local government in the United

Local government in England does not follow a
uniform structure. Each region is divided into
a range of further sub divisions: the layers of
government below the regions are mixed.
Greater London is divided into 32 London
boroughs and the City of London.
The other regions are divided into
metropolitan counties, shire counties and
unitary authorities.
Counties are further divided into districts
and in some areas there are also parishes.

Regions of England
1. London
2. South East
3. South West
4. West Midlands
5. North West
6. North East
7. Yorshire and the Humber
8. East Midlands
9. East

Powers and functions
of the Regions
All the regions have the same status, but
London is the only region that has an
elected Assembly and Mayor.
The others have a relatively minor role,
with unelected regional assemblies:
the powers of the regional assemblies
are limited.
Government departments assign some
functions to the English regions.

Administrative Divisions

History: Anglo-Saxon period
In England, in the Anglo-Saxon period, shires
were areas used for the raising of taxes, and
usually had a fortified town at their centre.
These became known as the shire town or
the county town.
The name 'county' was introduced by the
Normans, and was derived from a Norman
term for an area administered by a Count
(lord). These Norman 'counties' were
geographically based upon the Saxon shires,
and kept their Saxon names.

History: Medieval period

The county boundaries of England have

changed over time.
In the medival period, a number of
important cities were granted the status
of counties, such as London, Bristol and

History: 1889

For centuries, the counties were used

mainly for legal administration and tax
In 1889 administrative counties
(county councils) were created: they
were based upon the traditional county

History: 1894 and 1899

The first local government districts were

created in 1894 by the Local Government
Act 1894 which created Urban districts and
Rural districts as sub-divisions of
administrative counties (which had been
created in 1889).
Another reform in 1899 created 28
metropolitan boroughs as sub-divisions of
the County of London.

History: 1965

In 1965 and 1974 a major re-

organisation of local government created
several new administrative counties and
also created several new metropolitan
In 1965 Greater London and its 32
London boroughs were created. They
are the oldest type of district still in

History: 1974

In 1974, the administrative counties were

abolished and Metropolitan counties and
Non-metropolitan counties (or Shire
counties') were created across the rest of
England and were split into Metropolitan
districts and Non-metropolitan districts.
The metropolitan and non-metropolitan
counties replaced the system of
administrative counties which were
introduced in 1889.

History: 1986

The status of the London boroughs and

metropolitan districts changed in 1986.
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,
on a different basis, with the Greater
London Authority.
History: 1990s

During the 1990s a further kind of district

was created, the unitary authority,
which combined the functions and status
of county and district.

County level
county, from French comt, was simply used by
the Normans after 1066 to replace the native
English term scir ([ir])Modern English shire.
A shire was an administrative division of an
Anglo-Saxon kingdom (Wessex, Mercia, East
Anglia), usually named after its administrative
centre (Gloucester, in Gloucestershire; Worcester,
in Worcestershire).
Many of the names of British Counties are suffixed
by the word "shire": they were once controlled on
behalf of the sovereign by a 'Shire Reeve' or
Sheriff (the most famous was the "Sheriff of
Nottingham" in the Tales of Robin Hood).

Historic counties of England
1. Bedfordshire 23. Norfolk
2. Berkshire 24. Northamptonshire
3. Buckinghamshire 25. Northumberland
4. Cambridgeshire
26. Nottinghamshire
5. Cheshire (County of
Chester) 27. Oxfordshire
6. Cornwall 28. Rutland
7. Cumberland 29. Shropshire (County
8. Derbyshire of Salop)
9. Devon
30. Somerset
10. Dorset
11. County Durham 31. Staffordshire
12. Essex 32. Suffolk
13. Gloucestershire 33. Surrey
14. Hampshire 34. Sussex
15. Herefordshire
35. Warwickshire
16. Hertfordshire
17. Huntingdonshire 36. Westmorland
18. Kent 37. Wiltshire
19. Lancashire (County of 38. Worcestershire
20. Leicestershire 39. Yorkshire
21. Lincolnshire
22. Middlesex

County level: responsibilities
Counties in England were originally based on the traditional
counties of England.
County level local authorities (county councils) in
the UK are responsible for running education,
libraries, waste disposal, highways and
transport, strategic land use, emergency
services, planning, social services, and a
number of other functions.
At a county level, England has got:
1) Metropolitan counties
2) Non-metropolitan or shire counties
3) Unitary autorities
4) Greater London

Map of England

A map of England with:

1) shire counties pink,
2) metropolitan and
London boroughs purple,
3) unitary authorities red.

Metropolitan county

There are six metropolitan counties,

divided into metropolitan districts,
which cover large urban areas outside
London. They were created in 1974. In
1986 their county councils were

Shire county

Shire counties or non metropolitan

counties were also created in 1974.
They are 34 and they are divided into
non-metropolitan districts. They cover
much of the country, though mainly the
rural areas.

Unitary Authority
Unitary authorities were created in the 1990s
and are single-tier authorities which combine
the functions of county and district councils.
There are 47 of them.
A unitary authority is responsible for all local
government functions within its area. This is
opposed to a two-tier system where local
government functions are divided between
different authorities.
Typically unitary authorities cover large towns
or cities.

Greater London (1)
Greater London was created in 1965 and it is
divided into the City of London and 32 London
The term "London" is often used in reference to
Greater London.
Greater London originally had a two-tier system of
local government: the Greater London Council
(GLC) shared power with the Corporation of
London (governing the small City of London) and
the 32 London borough councils. The Greater
London Council was abolished in 1986.

Greater London (2)

The tiny City of London at its centre is often

called "the City" or "the Square Mile" and
forms the main financial district.
London is the only English region with a
directly elected mayor and an elected
regional assembly which together comprise
the Greater London Authority (the "GLA"),
which oversees transport, the fire brigade
and economic development.

District level
The term 'District' can have a number of different
meanings: in general, it refers to an administrative
area with its own elected council.
Some districts are styled as boroughs, cities, or royal
boroughs. These are honorific titles, and do not alter
the status of the district.
All Boroughs and Cities, and a very few Districts, are
led by a Mayor elected by the Council: in most cases,
it is a ceremonial role.
After the most recent local government reform, the
mayor is a directly elected Mayor: he/she takes most
of the policy decisions instead of the Council.

Metropolitan district

Metropolitan districts (or metropolitan

boroughs) are a subdivision of a
metropolitan county.
When the county councils were abolished in
1986, most of the powers of the county
councils were devolved to the metropolitan
districts which therefore function similar to
other unitary authorities.
The districts typically have populations of
174,000 to 1.1 million.

Non-metropolitan (shire) district
Shire counties are divided into non-
metropolitan districts.
Non-metropolitan districts (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.
The districts typically have populations of
25,000 to 200,000.
The number of non-metropolitan districts has
varied over time.

London boroughs
The 32 London borough councils have a similar
status to other unitary authorities.
They run most of the day-to-day services across
the capital. Each council is made up of elected
They set the Council Tax levels which, along with
extra funding from central government, allows
each borough to provide services such as
education, housing, social services, street
cleaning, waste disposal, roads, local planning
and many arts and leisure services.
The boroughs do not run police or health services.
Parish level
Below the district level, a district may be
divided into several civil parishes.
The civil parish is the most local unit of
government in England.
Civil parishes are usually administered by
parish councils, which have various local
A parish council can also be called a town
council or occasionally a city council.
The chair of a town council or city council will
usually have the title of Mayor.

The parish

The Parish is the lowest level of local

government formed at a time when
there was little difference, to the local
people, between the Church and the
The parish is usually formed around a
village or other small community and
used to be centred around the Parish

Parish councils

Parishes are known as 'local councils'. The

role played by parish councils varies.
Smaller parish councils have only limited
resources and generally play only a minor role.
Some larger parish councils have a role similar
to that of a small district council.
Parish councils receive funding by the council
tax paid by the residents of the parish.

Activities of a parish
Activities undertaken by parish or town councils include:

Provision of certain local facilities such as allotments, bus

shelters, parks, playgrounds, public seats, public toilets, public
clocks, street lights, village or town halls, leisure and recreation
Maintenance of footpaths, cemeteries and village greens.
Provision of community transport (such as a minibus), crime
prevention measures.
Giving of grants to local voluntary organisations, and sponsoring
public events, including entering Britain in Bloom.
Parish councils have the right to be consulted on any planning
decisions affecting the parish.

Local Councils
Local government authorities (known as councils)
have powers because the central government has
given them powers.
The system of local government is very similar to the
system of national government.
There are elected representatives (called councillors)
who meet in a council chamber in the Town Hall or
County Hall.
Local councils traditionally manage nearly all public
Local councils are allowed to collect a tax called the
council tax. It is based on the estimated value of a
property and the number of people living in it.

Local Government services (1)
Single-tier authorities are responsible for:

education leisure facilities

social services and parks
housing open spaces
council tax benefits countryside including
public libraries footpaths
museums and art cemeteries and crematoria
markets and fairs
traffic and transportation
refuse collection, registration of births,
recycling and disposal deaths, marriages and
planning electorates
environmental health collecting council tax and
swimming pools business rates.

Local Government services (2)

County Councils District Councils Town and Parish

education housing Councils
libraries parks community centres
social services sports arts and leisure
trading, arts and entertainment facilities
standards land parks and play areas
waste disposal use planning permission public conveniences
highways and environmental health and other services
transport waste collection and have a right to be
strategic land use recycling notified about planning
in the area.
planning street cleaning
council tax collection
council tax and housing
electoral registration and