Sunday, April 4, 2010

An analysis of English govermental entities

In the USA, the governmental units are pretty straightforward: we have states and they are divided into counties.

There was probably a time when it was that simple in England too but not so simple today. This post attempts to analyze the governmental units in England.

First of all, England is a country within the UK.

Under today's system of governmental breakdown, land in England is either

1. Located in an area called Greater London, or
2. Located outside the area called Greater London.

The land that is located inside the entity called Greater London consists of

1. The actual City of London, and
2. 32 other boroughs which surround that inner city, called London Boroughs

The land that is locate outside the entity called Greater London is divided into counties. These counties are further classified

1. As Metropolitan counties, if that county mainly consists of a major city, or
2. Non-Metropolitan counties.

There are (as of this writing) 82 Metropolitan and Non-Metropolitan counties. Of these, six are Metropolitan Counties, each with a typical population of between 1 and 3 million.

Non-Metropolitan counties are either

1. Shire counties, or
2. Unitary authorities.

There are 28 shire counties. A shire country has multiple districts within it. A shire county does not have to have the word "shire" in its name.

The remaining counties are of the unitary authority type. A unitary authority type of county does not have districts, but only one council for the entire county.

The whole of England is divided into 10 government office regions used by the central government. These large regions are separate from the counties themselves, and are superior to the counties from a governmental standpoint.


  1. Yeah, I don't understand cricket either.

  2. You've made that sound rather more complicated than it really is. All you need to know is that the country is divided into counties, and even if some of them have different names that's really not much more than semantics. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

    Some of the larger counties are divided into districts for more local services, so the county will oversee education and fix roads where the local district will empty your bins and clean the streets. Unitary authorities and metropolitan authorities do it all. They were established to try to do away with the two-tiers to make local government more efficient.

    Regions are not in that hierarchy at all, more or less offshoots of central government. They are used as constituencies for European elections and for statistics. I would guess that the majority of people living in England don't know what their regional government office does, or even that there is one.

  3. @Stephanie Barr - Neither do I, though I have tried a couple times to learn it.

    @Sheila - I'm pretty sure you have several different counties. You also have central government statistical areas. And you have an area which is not in a county around London. If it sounds simple to you, then it may be because you have grown up with that system and seen first-hand the changes as they occur.

    Our states have counties. That seems simpler.

    But the intent of the post is not to compare, really. It is to see if I can get myself to understand your system. Sadly, this is not the only post I will do on the subject. :(

    I really do want to understand, once and for all. :)

  4. The central government stats have nothing to do with local government, not directly. They don't govern us. In this instance they are a red herring.

    Ignore the names of the counties - they all do the same thing. I've just spent an hour, it felt like three, hearing that our shire county, with its district councils, is to be split. The districts will be merged and we will have unitary authorities in their place. Our bins will still be emptied, our libraries will still have books, and our schools will continue to function. I doubt we will notice any difference.

  5. You missed out Town Councils and Parish Councils. They are pretty much at the bottom of the heap.

    Why are you sad about it? I look forward to your future posts. Maybe that's why you're sad. I nearly taught you cricket. :)

  6. It's simple in England really.
    MPs are on the take in parliament, and councillors (who most folk have never heard off) are on the take at a local level.
    They do what they want and you just have to lump it!



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