Subdivisions of England

From Academic Kids

Subdivisions of England

For local government purposes, England is divided into three types of areas - non-unitary authorities, unitary authorities, and London boroughs.



Non-unitary authorities are administrative counties with a two-tier structure, consisting of a county council and a number of district councils. The two levels have different sets of responsibilities; for example, education is administered at the county level, local planning at the district level.

Unitary authorities are single-tier authorities, combining the functions of county and district councils. They are defined either as administrative counties consisting of a single district, or districts of a county (such as Berkshire or the metropolitan counties) that has no county council. The Isle of Wight is the exception, being a county council with no districts. The council of a unitary authority is referred to as a "district council", "borough council", "county council", "city council", "metropolitan borough council" or "council", depending upon various factors.

In Greater London, the 32 London borough councils have a similar status to the unitary authorities, although the Greater London Authority exists to coordinate their activities across the county.

England is also divided into governmental regions: Greater London, South East England, South West England, East of England, East Midlands, West Midlands, North West England, Yorkshire and the Humber and North East England.

See also: Subdivisions of the United Kingdom, NUTS regions in the United Kingdom, Counties of England, Administrative counties of England, Ceremonial counties of England, Traditional counties of England, Watsonian vice-counties, Districts of England

This is a list of top-level councils. It is ordered according to legal definition: counties with county and district councils; the three types of unitary authorities: counties with a single council, metropolitan districts and non-metropolitan districts; and London boroughs.

Administrative counties with County and District Councils

Missing image
A map of England with shire counties pink, metropolitan and London boroughs purple, and unitary authorities red.

Also known as 'shire counties' (though that may also include Berkshire)

Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, County Durham, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwickshire, West Sussex, Wiltshire, Worcestershire

Unitary Authorities

Main article: Unitary Authority

Apart from these, the Isles of Scilly are usually considered a unitary authority.

Administrative counties

These are defined as legal counties with a county council and no districts.

These are defined as legal counties with one district and no county council.

Bath and North East Somerset, Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Derby, Darlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, Halton, Hartlepool, Herefordshire, Kingston upon Hull, Leicester, Luton, Medway, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, North East Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North Somerset, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth, Redcar and Cleveland, Rutland, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, South Gloucestershire, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent Swindon, Telford and Wrekin, Thurrock, Torbay, Warrington, York

Metropolitan districts

These are defined as districts of a metropolitan county, which has had its county council abolished.

Barnsley, Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Bury, Calderdale, Coventry, Doncaster, Dudley, Gateshead, Kirklees, Knowsley, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle Upon Tyne, North Tyneside, Oldham, Rochdale, Rotherham, Salford, Sandwell, Sefton, Sheffield, Solihull, South Tyneside, St Helens, Stockport, Sunderland, Tameside, Trafford, Wakefield, Walsall, Wigan, Wirral, Wolverhampton

Non-metropolitan districts

These are districts of a non-metropolitan county (Berkshire) which has had its county council abolished.

Bracknell Forest, Reading, Slough, West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham

London Boroughs

Main article: London Boroughs

Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Camden, City of Westminster, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth

The City of London is not a London Borough.

Changes proposed in 2004

Main article: Northern England referendums, 2004

Missing image
Counties and unitary authorities of England assuming Option 2 had been chosen in all three northern referendums

A referendum was held on November 4, 2004 in North East England, about whether an elected regional assembly should be introduced. As part of the referendum, voters were to be asked to choose which system of unitary authorities they would like to see in the existing county council areas if the regional assemby was approved. In the event, the vote in the North East was a decisive "No", making the proposed local government changes moot.

Similar referendums in North West England and Yorkshire and the Humber have been postponed indefinitely: on 8 November 2004 the Deputy Prime Minister announced "I will not therefore be bringing forward orders for referendums in either the North West, or Yorkshire and the Humber". *Statement by Deputy Prime Minister (

Most of the proposed changes would have required no change in the administrative counties of England, as they could have been be implemented by merging districts and abolition of the county council. Where borders were crossed, however, changes would have been needed. This impacted Lancashire, where various parts were proposed for combination with Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen (both unitaries), Sefton (in Merseyside), Wigan (in Greater Manchester), and southern Cumbria; it also affects one proposal for North Yorkshire, which would have merged the district of Selby with the East Riding of Yorkshire. Few of the boundary changes would have involved creating new borders - only the proposals to combine Blackpool with parts of Wyre, and to split West Lancashire between Wigan and Sefton would do this.

The present government is unlikely to perform piecemeal unitary authority creation, unassociated with the introduction of elected regional assemblies. This is shown by the refusal of the government to 'un-tie' these proposals from such assemblies, by allowing voters to reject the assembly, but still have the unitary reform.


  • CIA World Fact Book 2002 (Note however data used in the CIA's article on Great Britain is older than the publication date, updated information is recorded here)

See also

pt:Subdivisões da Inglaterra


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools