Local government in Wales

Local government in Wales

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For local government purposes, Wales is (since 1996) divided into 22 single-tier principal areas[1], which are responsible for the provision of all local government services, including education, social work, environment and roads services. Below these in some areas there are community councils, which cover specific areas within a council area.

All 22 authorities are regularly called counties in the Welsh media, including BBC Wales.[2][3]

The Queen appoints a Lord Lieutenant to represent her in the eight preserved counties of Wales — which are combinations of council areas. However other subdivisions occur when dividing Wales into separate regions in the provisions of fire, and police services. For example there is a South Wales Police force, rather than the Glamorgan Police Force.



There are five cities in total in Wales: in addition to the three areas with city status, the communities of Bangor and St David's also have the status. City status is determined by letters patent.

St. Asaph, as the seat of a bishopric, was historically referred to as a city, and was described as such in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. The status was never officially recognised, however. When city status was restored to St David's in 1994, St Asaph community council submitted a petition for the same purpose. The petition was refused as, unlike St David's, there was no evidence of any charter or letters patent in the past conferring the status. Applications for city status in competitions in 2000 and 2002 were unsuccessful.[4]

Principal areas of Wales

There are 22 principal areas in Wales, they came into being on 1 April 1996 by virtue of the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 (1994 c. 19). Eleven are named as counties, including the Cities and Counties of Cardiff and Swansea (marked *), and eleven are named as county boroughs (marked †).[5] In 2002 Newport was granted city status, and the county borough is now styled as the "City of Newport".[6][7] Welsh language forms are given in parentheses, except where there is no English equivalent.

Locations of each county/county borough headquarters are indicated by yellow markers.

Wales Administrative Map 2009.png

Name changes

The current names of certain unitary authority areas are different from those specified in the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994. The following changes took place, all with effect from 2 April 1996 :[8]

Preserved counties of Wales

For ceremonial purposes of Lieutenancy and Shrievalty, Wales is divided into 8 preserved counties which are based on the counties created by the Local Government Act 1972 and used for local government and other purposes between 1974 and abolished in 1996.

Historic counties of Wales

The historic counties of Wales are ancient subdivisions of Wales, used for various functions for several hundred years. The first counties were created in 1282 and another tranche created in 1535, and were the main subdivisions of Wales until 1974 when the subdivisions were changed following the Local Government Act 1972.


The lowest level of subdivision below unitary authority areas in Wales are Communities. Each area is subdivided into communities. They may have elected community councils (CCs) which perform a number of roles, such as providing local facilities, and representing their communities to larger local government bodies. Community councils are the equivalent of English parish councils. A community council may call itself a 'town council' if it wishes to do so. Two Welsh communities Bangor and St David's have city status and are therefore called 'City Councils'. Communities which are too small to have a council may have a community meeting instead, an example of direct democracy.

Police and fire services

Police forces

There are four police forces in Wales. These are:

Wales Police Numbered.png
  1. North Wales Police (Heddlu Gogledd Cymru)
  2. Dyfed-Powys Police (Heddlu Dyfed-Powys)
  3. South Wales Police (Heddlu De Cymru)
  4. Gwent Police (Heddlu Gwent)

Fire and rescue services

There are three fire and rescue services in Wales. The present Welsh fire services date from 1996. Each covers a number of unitary authority areas. These are:

Wales fire services numbered.png
  1. North Wales Fire and Rescue Service (Gwasanaeth Tân ac Achub Gogledd Cymru)
  2. Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (Gwasanaeth Tân ac Achub Canolbarth a Gorllewin Cymru)
  3. South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (Gwasanaeth Tân ac Achub De Cymru)


See also

External links

  • LocalGov.co.uk - News updates on UK local government, including reorganisation


  1. ^ Local Government (Wales) Act 1994
  2. ^ BBC Wales A listing of "each of the 22 Welsh counties". 23.12.05
  3. ^ BBC Wales North West: Conwy County
  4. ^ Beckett, J V (2005). City Status in the British isles, 1830 - 2002. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing. pp. 133–135. ISBN 0754650677. 
  5. ^ Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, Schedule 1
  6. ^ London Gazette: no. 56573. p. 6160. 21 May 2002. Retrieved 5 March 2010.
  7. ^ "Newport City Council". Newport City Council. 4 December 2010. http://www.newport.gov.uk/_dc/index.cfm?fuseaction=council.homepage. Retrieved 5 March 2011. 
  8. ^ The Residuary Body for Wales (Levies) Regulations 1996
  • CIA World Factbook 2002

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