Local Government Act 1972

Infobox UK Legislation
short_title=Local Government Act 1972
parliament=Parliament of the United Kingdom
long_title=An Act to make provision with respect to local government and the functions of local authorities in England and Wales; to amend Part II of the Transport Act 1968; to confer rights of appeal in respect of decisions relating to licences under the Home Counties (Music and Dancing) Licensing Act 1926; to make further provision with respect to magistrates’ courts committees; to abolish certain inferior courts of record; and for connected purposes.
statute_book_chapter=1972 c.70
introduced_by=
territorial_extent=England and Wales
royal_assent=26 October 1972
commencement=26 October 1972 1 April 1974
repeal_date=
amendments=
related_legislation=Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972
repealing_legislation=
status=Amended
original_text=
activeTextDocId=2431824
legislation_history=|

The Local Government Act 1972 (1972 c. 70) is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom, that reformed local government in England and Wales, on 1 April 1974.HMSO. Local Government Act 1972. 1972 c.70]

Its pattern of two-tier metropolitan and non-metropolitan county and district councils remains in use today in large parts of England, although the metropolitan county councils were abolished in 1986 and it was replaced with unitary authorities in many areas in the 1990s. In Wales, it established a similar pattern of counties and districts.Arnold-Baker, C., "Local Government Act 1972", (1973)] These have since been entirely replaced with a system of unitary authorities. In Scotland, the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 regionalised local government with a system of two-tier regions and districts in 1975 — this was also replaced by a system of unitary council areas in 1996.

Elections were held to the new authorities in 1973, and they acted as 'shadow authorities' until the handover date. Elections to county councils were held on 12 April, for metropolitan and Welsh districts on 10 May for non-metropolitan district councils on 7 June. ["The Times", 13 April, 11 May, 8 June 1973]

England

Background

Elected county councils 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 boroughs were politically independent from the counties they were physically situated in. The county areas were two-tier, with many municipal borough, urban district and rural districts within them, each with its own council. Bryne, T., "Local Government in Britain" (1994)]

Apart from the creation of new county boroughs, the most significant change since 1899 (and the establishment of metropolitan boroughs in the County of London) had been the establishment in 1965 of Greater London and its thirty-two London boroughs, covering a much larger area than the previous county of London. A Local Government Commission for England was set up in 1958 to review local government arrangements throughout the country, and had some successes, such as merging two pairs of small administrative counties to form Huntingdon and Peterborough and Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely, and the creation of several contigous county boroughs in the Black Country. However, the Local Government Commission was routinely having its recommendations ignored in favour of the status quo, such as its proposal to abolish Rutland, or to reorganise Tyneside.

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, the area that was to become the seven boroughs of the metropolitan county of West Midlands, local government was split between three administrative counties (Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire), and eight county boroughs (Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Solihull, Walsall, Warley, West Bromwich, and Wolverhampton).

The Local Government Commission was wound up in 1966, and replaced with a Royal Commission (known as the Redcliffe-Maud commission). In 1969 it recommended a system of single-tier unitary authorities for the whole of England, apart from three metropolitan areas of Merseyside, Selnec (Greater Manchester) and West Midlands (Birmingham and the Black Country), which were to have both a metropolitan council and district councils.

This report was accepted by the Labour Party government of the time despite considerable opposition, but the Conservative Party won the June 1970 general election, and on a manifesto that committed them to a two-tier structure. The new government made Peter Walker and Graham Page the ministers, and quickly dropped the Redcliffe-Maud report. ["Cabinet drop council house sale curb and Maud proposals". "The Times". 30 June 1970.] They invited comments from interested parties regarding the previous government's proposals. ["Adapting the Maud report". Timothy Raison. "The Times". 8 January 1971.] The Association of Municipal Corporations put forward a scheme with 13 provincial councils and 132 main councils, about twice the number proposed by Redcliffe-Maud. ["Boroughs to press for new 132-council structure". "The Times". 13 November 1970.]

White Paper and Bill

The incoming government's proposals for England were presented in a White Paper published in February 1971. HMSO. "Local Government in England: Government Proposals for Reorganisation". Cmnd. 4584.] 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, 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 250,000 minimum limit for education authorities in the Redcliffe-Maud report, and its finding that the division of governance between town and country had been harmful, but that some functions were better performed by smaller units. It gave the division of functions between the districts and the counties, and also suggested a minimum population of 40,000 for districts. The government aimed to introduce the bill in the 1971/1972 session of Parliament for elections in 1973 and the new authorities coming into full power on 1 April 1974. The White Paper held off on making any commitments on regional or provincial government, waiting instead for the Crowther Commission to report back.

This was subject to public debate and the proposals were substantially changed with the introduction of the Bill into Parliament in November 1971: ["Proposed new areas and their composition". "The Times". 17 February 1971.] [DOE Circular 8/71]

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

The Bill as introduced also included two new major changes based around the concept of unifying estuaries - Humberside on the Humber estuary, and the inclusion of Harwich and Colchester in Suffolk to unify the Stour estuary. [Local Government Bill, Government Proposals for New Counties in England with the Proposed Names, 4 November 1971, Map] The latter was removed from the Bill before it became law. Proposals from Plymouth for a Tamarside county were rejected. It also provided names for the new counties for the first time. "Government rejects plan for Tamar county". "The Times". 26 January 1972]

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) ["Unpopular Name", "The Times". 5 January 1972]
*renaming of Teesside to Cleveland, exclusion of Whitby ["Teesside: Town and country welcome Whitehall compromise". "The Times". 21 March 1972.]
*renaming of Tyneside to Tyne and Wear [cite hansard|house=House of Commons|date=6 July 1972|column_start=907|column_end=910]
*removal of Seaham from Tyne and Wear, keeping it in County Durham [cite hansard|house=House of Commons|date=6 July 1972|column=939]
*removal of Skelmersdale and Holland from Merseyside
*exclusion of Colchester and area from Suffolk, kept in Essex "Local government keeps MPs up all night." "The Times", 7 July 1972.]
*exclusion of Newmarket and Haverhill from Cambridgeshire, kept in Suffolk (despite protests of Newmarket UDC, which was happy to see the town transferred to Cambridgeshire) ["Boundaries Bill protest". 4 July 1972.] [cite hansard|house=House of Commons|date=6 July 1972|column_start=1002|column_end=1010] ["Newmarket tries again to jump the boundary". 3 August 1972.]
*keeping the Isle of Wight independent of Hampshire ["Isle of Wight reprieve". "The Times". 5 October 1972]
*adding part of Lothingland Rural District from Suffolk to Norfolk

In the Bill as published, the Dorset/Hampshire border was between Christchurch and Lymington. On 6 July 1972, a government amendment added Lymington to Dorset, which would have had the effect of having the entire Bournemouth conurbation in one county (although the town in Lymington itself does not form part of the built-up area, the borough was large and contained villages which do). [cite hansard|date=6 July 1972|column_start=1033|column_end=1047|house=House of Commons] The House of Lords reversed this amendment in September, with the government losing the division 81 to 65. ["Lymington stays in Hampshire". "The Times". 12 September 1972.] In October, the government brought up this issue again, proposing an amendment to put the western part of Lymington borough. The amendment was withdrawn. ["Peers renew fight to keep Lymington undivided". "The Times". 17 October 1972.] ["Lymington to remain undivided". "The Times". 18 October 1972.]

The government lost divisions in the House of Lords at Report Stage on the exclusion of Wilmslow and Poynton from Greater Manchester and their retention in Cheshire, and also on whether Rothwell should form part of the Leeds or Wakefield districts. ["Triple Lords defeat for Government on boundaries Bill". "The Times". 17 October 1972.] (Rothwell had been planned for Wakefield, but an amendment at report stage was proposed by local MP Albert Roberts and accepted by the government. This was overturned by the Lords.) Instead, the Wakefield district gained the town of Ossett, which was originally placed in the Kirklees district, following an appeal by Ossett Labour Party. ["Ossett Town Hall", Ossett Historical Society, 2008, page 104]

The government barely won a division in the Lords on the inclusion of Weston-super-Mare in Avon, by 42 to 41. ["Somerset loses its battle to remain intact". "The Times". 17 October 1972.] [cite hansard|house=House of Lords|date=16 October 1972|column_start=1568|column_end=1661]

Two more metropolitan districts were created than originally in the Bill:
*Rochdale and Bury were originally planned to form a single district (dubbed "Botchdale" by local MP Michael Fidler) [cite hansard|house=House of Commons|date=6 July 1972|column_start=763|column_end=834] ["Lancashire saved from 'Botchdale'". "The Times". 7 July 1972.] Rochdale took Middleton from Oldham in compensation. ["Philosophy on councils has yet to emerge". "The Times". 8 July 1972]
*Knowsley was not originally planned, and was formed from the western part of the planned St Helens district [cite hansard|house=House of Commons|date=6 July 1972|column_start=855|column_end=907]

As passed, the Act would have included Charlwood and Horley in West Sussex, along with Gatwick Airport. This was reversed by the Charlwood and Horley Act 1974, passed just before the Act came into force. Charlwood was made part of the Mole Valley district and Horley part of Reigate and Banstead. Gatwick Airport was still transferred.

Although willing to compromise about exact boundaries, the government stood firm on the existence or abolition of county councils. The Isle of Wight (originally scheduled to be merged back into Hampshire as a district) was the only local campaign to succeed, and also the only county council in England to violate the 250,000 limit for education authorities. 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." [cite hansard|house=House of Lords|date=17 October 1972|column_start=1680|column_end=1684.] ["Isle of Wight retains its county council". "The Times". 18 October 1972.]

Protests from Rutland and Herefordshire failed, although Rutland was able to secure its treatment as a single district despite not even managing to meet the stated minimum population of 40,000 for districts.

Several metropolitan boroughs fell under the 250,000 limit, including three of Tyne and Wear's five boroughs (North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Gateshead), and the four metropolitan boroughs that had resulted from the splitting of the proposed Bury/Rochdale and Knowsley/St Helens boroughs.

Wales

In Wales, the background was substantially different. The Redcliffe-Maud Commission had not considered Wales, which had been the subject of the Welsh Office proposals in the 1960s. A White Paper was published in 1967 on the subject of Wales, based on the findings of the 1962 report of the Local Government Commission for Wales. The White Paper proposed five counties, and thirty-six districts. The county boroughs of Swansea, Cardiff and Newport would be retained, but the small county borough of Merthyr Tydfil would become a district. The proposed counties were as follows ["Thirteen Welsh counties cut down to five". "The Times". 12 July 1967.]

*Dyfed - west Wales - Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire
*Glamorgan - south Wales
*Gwent - south-east Wales Monmouthshire (also including Rhymney valley from Glamorgan)
*Gwynedd - north Wales - Anglesey, Caernarvonshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Merionethshire
*Powys - mid Wales - Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire, Breconshire

Implementation of reform in Wales was not immediate, pending decisions on the situation in England, and a new Secretary of State, George Thomas, announced changes to the proposals in November 1968. The large northern county of Gwynedd was to be split to form two counties, 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. ["Local Government Reorganisation in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire"] ["Two-tier plan conflict." "The Times". 2 April 1970]

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. [HMSO. Welsh Office, "The Reform of Local Government in Wales"] 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. ["Welsh aim is for seven large units." "The Times". 17 February 1971.]

In the Bill as introduced Glamorgan had been split into three authorities: with East Glamorgan further subdivided into a Mid Glamorgan covering the valleys, and South Glamorgan. The decision to split East Glamorgan further left South Glamorgan with only two districts (one of which was the Conservative-controlled Cardiff, who had requested the split) and Mid Glamorgan one of the poorest areas in the country. ["Minister defends Glamorgan decision". "The Times". 18 November 1971.] The Labour-controlled Glamorgan County Council strongly opposed this move, placing adverts in newspapers calling for Glamorgan to be saved from a "carve up", and demanding that the East/West split be retained. ["Glamorgan County County: Save Glamorgan from the Carve Up." "The Times". 24 November 1971.] The resulting South Glamorgan was the only Welsh county council the Conservatives ever controlled (from 1977-1981).

Apart from the new Glamorgan authorities, all the names of the new Welsh counties were in the Welsh language, with no English equivalent. The names were taken from ancient British kingdoms. Welsh names were also used for many of the Welsh districts. ["Ancient Welsh names restored in council titles". "The Times". 19 December 1972.] There were no metropolitan counties and, unlike in England, the Secretary of State could not create future metropolitan counties there under the Act. Arnold-Baker, C., "Local Government Act 1972", (1973) ]

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 boroughs instead. The allocation of functions differed between the metropolitan and the non-metropolitan areas (the so-called 'shire counties') — for example, education and social services were the responsibility of the shire counties, but in metropolitan areas was given to the districts. The distribution of powers was slightly different in Wales than in England, with libraries being a county responsibility in England — but in Wales districts could opt to become library authorities themselves. One key principle was that education authorities (non-metropolitan counties and metropolitan districts), were deemed to need a population base of 250,000 in order to be viable.

Although called two-tier, the system was really three-tier, as it retained civil parish councils, although in Wales they were renamed community councils.

The Act introduced 'agency', where one local authority (usually a district) could act as an agent for another authority. For example, since road maintenance was split depending upon the type of road, both types of council had to retain engineering departments. A county council could delegate its road maintenance to the district council if it was confident that the district was competent. Some powers were specifically excluded from agency, such as education.

The Act abolished various historic relics such as aldermen. Many existing boroughs that were too small to constitute a district, but too large to constitute a civil parish, were given Charter Trustees.

Most provisions of the Act came into force at midnight on 1 April 1974. Elections to the new councils had already been held, in 1973, and the new authorities were already up and running as 'shadow authorities', following the example set by the London Government Act 1963.

The new local government areas

The Act specified the composition and names of the English and Welsh counties, and the composition of the metropolitan and Welsh districts. It did not specify any names of districts, nor indeed the borders of the non-metropolitan districts in England — these were specified by Statutory Instrument after the passing of the Act. A Boundary Commission, provided for in the Act, had already begun work on dividing England into districts whilst the Bill was still going through Parliament. [The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972 - SI 1972/2038] [English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973 - SI 1973/551] [Metropolitan Districts (Names) Order - SI 1973/137] [Districts in Wales (Names) Order - SI 1973/34]

In England there were 46 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, 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. [Local Government Act 1972 (c.70), s.216] This realigned the boundaries of ceremonial and judicial counties used for lieutenancy, custodes rotulorum, shrievalty, commissions of the peace and magistrates' courts to the metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties. [Elcock, H., "Local Government", (1994)] [Her Majesty's Stationery Office, "Aspects of Britain: Local Government", (1996)] The Act also extended the rights of the Duchy of Lancaster to appoint Lord-Lieutenants for the shrunken Lancashire along with all of Greater Manchester and Merseyside. [Local Government Act 1972 (c.70), s.219(3)]

In England prior to the passing of the Act there had been 1086 urban and rural districts and 79 county boroughs. The number of districts was reduced about fourfold.

England

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

The new district in Suffolk was necessitated by the decision to keep Newmarket in Suffolk; which would otherwise have become part of the South Cambridgeshire district.

Isles of Scilly

Section 265 af the Act allowed for the continuation of the local government arrangements for the Isles of Scilly. The Isles of Scilly Rural District Council became the Council of the Isles of Scilly, and certain services were to continue to be provided by Cornwall County Council as provided by order in council made by the Secretary of State, although the Isles were not technically in Cornwall before or after 1974.

Wales

Map


England
  1. Northumberland
  2. Tyne and Wear
  3. County Durham
  4. Cleveland
  5. North Yorkshire
  6. Cumbria
  7. Lancashire
  8. Merseyside
  9. Greater Manchester
  10. West Yorkshire
  11. South Yorkshire
  12. Humberside
  13. Lincolnshire
  14. Nottinghamshire
  15. Derbyshire
  16. Cheshire
  17. Shropshire
  18. Staffordshire
  19. West Midlands
  20. Warwickshire
  21. Leicestershire
  22. Northamptonshire
  23. Cambridgeshire
  1. Norfolk
  2. Suffolk
  3. Essex
  4. Hertfordshire
  5. Bedfordshire
  6. Buckinghamshire
  7. Oxfordshire
  8. Gloucestershire
  9. Hereford and Worcester
  10. Avon
  11. Wiltshire
  12. Berkshire
  13. Greater London *
  14. Kent
  15. East Sussex
  16. West Sussex
  17. Surrey
  18. Hampshire
  19. Isle of Wight
  20. Dorset
  21. Somerset
  22. Devon
  23. Cornwall

Wales

  1. Gwent
  2. South Glamorgan
  3. Mid Glamorgan
  4. West Glamorgan

  1. Dyfed
  2. Powys
  3. Gwynedd
  4. Clwyd

metropolitan county
* 'administrative area' created in earlier legislation

Elections

Elections were held to the new authorities 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 either conduct elections by-thirds afterwards. Schedule 3 provided that for each metropolitan ward, the councillor for who obtained the least votes in the 1973 election would retire in 1975, the next least in 1976, and the others in 1978, setting up the cycle. If equal numbers of votes were obtained, or ward elections in 1973 had been uncontested, the decision would be made by lot.

Division of functions

Functions previously exercisable by local authorities were distributed broadly as so: [Hampton, W., "Local Government and Urban Politics", (1990)]

In many areas both authorities had some powers. For some powers, 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, 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 rexamining the rates system, while the Association of Metropolitan Authorities sought the establishment of a royal commission to consider the matter."All change in local affairs", The Times, 1 April 1974] "Beginning of the end for local government?" The Times, 1 April 1974]

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 was unable to respond to the needs of an expanding urban area. ["Thamesdown", The Times, 14 April 1974] 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" 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 to Berkshire, and a bonfire was lit at the site by protestors as the Act came into effect."Warning of ‘remoteness’ in new councils", The Times, 1 April 1974] The campaigners claimed 10,000 signatures in favour of diverting the county boundary to include the "Berkshire White Horse". ["Berkshire White Horse", The Times, 5 June 1974] The calls were rejected by the local MP, Airey Neave, who pointed out that the horse predated county boundaries and by the chairman of the Vale of White Horse District Council. ["Whose White Horse?", The Times, 24 June 1974] ["Whose White Horse?", The Times, 5 July 1974] Professor Anthony Fletcher af the Department of Medieval History of the University of Sheffield suggested that the new councils place signs at the boundaries of ancient counties. ["Changing Counties", The Times, 24 May 1973]

Some of the reaction against the Act came not from people concerned with the preservation of historic counties, but instead was motivated solely by opposition to change. The Isle of Wight, for example, is historically part of Hampshire, yet resisted efforts to reintegrate with it administratively; and the county borough councils regretted the loss of their status. Especially stung was the City and County of Bristol, which had had its own Lord Lieutenant for centuries.

Most of the criticism of the Act, however, 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. ["Administrative map loses some famous names", The Times, 28 March 1973] ["Councils want their names changed", The Times, 13 August 1973]

Adaption

The system established, however, was not to last. In England a series of incremental measures amended the act. Firstly, the county councils of the metropolitan counties were abolished in 1986 by Margaret Thatcher's government, effectively re-establishing county borough status for the metropolitan boroughs. Secondly, a review of local government outside the metropolitan counties was announced in 1989. ["County review ordered", The Times, 18 March 1989 ] The consequential local government reform in the 1990s led to the creation of many new unitary authorities, and the complete abolition of Avon, Cleveland, Hereford and Worcester and Humberside. Names such as Herefordshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire reappeared as local government entities, although often with new boundaries. Several former county boroughs such as Derby, Leicester and Stoke on Trent regained unitary status. Additionally, another wave of unitary authorities will be formed in 2009. In Wales there was a more radical change in policy with the two-tier system entirely abolished in 1996, and replaced with the current principal areas of Wales. The 1974 counties have been retained as preserved counties for various purposes, notably as ceremonial counties, albeit with substantive border revisions.

ee also

*Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972

References

External links

* [http://www.wikilivres.info/wiki/index.php/The_English_Non-metropolitan_Districts_(Definition)_Order_1972 Text of The English Non-Metropolitan Districts Order 1972 (S.I 1972/2039)]


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