Non-metropolitan district

Non-metropolitan districts, or colloquially "shire districts", are a type of local government district in England. As created, they are sub-divisions of non-metropolitan counties (colloquially shire counties) in a two-tier arrangement.

Non-metropolitan district
Also known as:
Shire district
English non-metropolitan districts 2019
CategoryLocal authority districts
Found inNon-metropolitan county
Created byLocal Government Act 1972
Created1 April 1974
Number247 (as of 2019)
Possible types Two-tier (192)
Unitary authority (55)
Possible statusCity
Royal borough

Non-metropolitan districts

Non-metropolitan districts are subdivisions of English non-metropolitan counties which have a two-tier structure of local government.[1] Most non-metropolitan counties have a county council, and also have several districts, each with a borough or district council. In these cases local government functions are divided between county and district councils, to the level where they can be practised most efficiently:

Service Non-metropolitan county Non-metropolitan district Unitary authority
Education ☑ ☑
Housing ☑ ☑
Planning applications ☑ ☑
Strategic planning ☑ ☑
Transport planning ☑ ☑
Passenger transport ☑ ☑
Highways ☑ ☑
Fire ☑ ☑
Social services ☑ ☑
Libraries ☑ ☑
Leisure and recreation ☑ ☑
Waste collection ☑ ☑
Waste disposal ☑ ☑
Environmental health ☑ ☑
Revenue collection ☑ ☑


Many districts have borough status, which means the local council is called a borough council instead of district council and gives them the right to appoint a mayor. Borough status is granted by royal charter and, in many cases, continues a style enjoyed by a predecessor authority, which can date back centuries. Some districts such as Oxford or Exeter have city status, granted by letters patent, but this does not give the local council any extra powers other than the right to call itself a city council. Not all city or borough councils are non-metropolitan districts, many being unitary authorities – districts which are ceremonially part of a non-metropolitan county, but not run by the county council – or metropolitan districts – which were subdivisions of the metropolitan counties created in 1974, but whose county councils were abolished in 1986 and are effectively unitary authorities and have the same powers.


By 1899, England had been divided at district level into rural districts, urban districts, municipal boroughs, county boroughs and metropolitan boroughs. This system was abolished by the London Government Act 1963 and the Local Government Act 1972. Non-metropolitan districts were created by this act in 1974 when England outside Greater London was divided into metropolitan counties and non-metropolitan counties. Metropolitan counties were sub-divided into metropolitan districts and the non-metropolitan counties were sub-divided into non-metropolitan districts. The metropolitan districts had more powers than their non-metropolitan counterparts. Initially, there were 296 non-metropolitan districts in the two-tier structure, but reforms in the 1990s and 2009 reduced their number to 192. A further 55 non-metropolitan districts are now unitary authorities, which combine the functions of county and borough/district councils.

Scotland and Wales

In Wales, an almost identical two-tier system of local government existed between 1974 and 1996 (see Districts of Wales). In 1996, this was abolished and replaced with an entirely unitary system of local government, with one level of local government responsible for all local services. Since the areas for Wales and England had been enacted separately and there were no Welsh metropolitan areas, the term 'non-metropolitan district' does not apply to Wales. A similar system existed in Scotland, which in 1975 was divided into regions and districts, this was also abolished in 1996 and replaced with a fully unitary system.

District Councils' Network

In England 200 out of the 201 non-metropolitan district councils are represented by the District Councils' Network,[2] special interest group which sits within the Local Government Association.[3] The network's purpose is to "act as an informed and representative advocate for districts to government and other national bodies, based on their unique position to deliver for ‘local’ people.”

List of counties and districts

This is a list of non-metropolitan counties and their districts. Some non-metropolitan districts are coterminous with non-metropolitan counties, making them unitary authorities (for example Herefordshire, the Isle of Wight, and Rutland). These are excluded from this list as is Berkshire which has no county council.

For a full list of districts of all types including unitary authorities, metropolitan districts and London boroughs, see Districts of England.

Non-metropolitan county Non-metropolitan districts (excluding unitary authorities) Number
Buckinghamshire South BucksChilternWycombeAylesbury Vale 4
Cambridgeshire CambridgeSouth CambridgeshireHuntingdonshireFenlandEast Cambridgeshire 5
Cumbria Barrow-in-FurnessSouth LakelandCopelandAllerdaleEdenCarlisle 6
Derbyshire High PeakDerbyshire DalesSouth DerbyshireErewashAmber ValleyNorth East DerbyshireChesterfieldBolsover 8
Devon ExeterEast DevonMid DevonNorth DevonTorridgeWest DevonSouth HamsTeignbridge 8
East Sussex HastingsRotherWealdenEastbourneLewes 5
Essex HarlowEpping ForestBrentwoodBasildonCastle PointRochfordMaldonChelmsfordUttlesfordBraintreeColchesterTendring 12
Gloucestershire GloucesterTewkesburyCheltenhamCotswoldStroudForest of Dean 6
Hampshire GosportFarehamWinchesterHavantEast HampshireHartRushmoorBasingstoke and DeaneTest ValleyEastleighNew Forest 11
Hertfordshire Three RiversWatfordHertsmereWelwyn HatfieldBroxbourneEast HertfordshireStevenageNorth HertfordshireSt AlbansDacorum 10
Kent DartfordGraveshamSevenoaksTonbridge and MallingTunbridge WellsMaidstoneSwaleAshfordFolkestone and HytheCanterburyDoverThanet 12
Lancashire West LancashireChorleySouth RibbleFyldePrestonWyreLancasterRibble ValleyPendleBurnleyRossendaleHyndburn 12
Leicestershire CharnwoodMeltonHarboroughOadby and WigstonBlabyHinckley and BosworthNorth West Leicestershire 7
Lincolnshire LincolnNorth KestevenSouth KestevenSouth HollandBostonEast LindseyWest Lindsey 7
Norfolk NorwichSouth NorfolkGreat YarmouthBroadlandNorth NorfolkKing's Lynn and West NorfolkBreckland 7
Northamptonshire South NorthamptonshireNorthamptonDaventryWellingboroughKetteringCorbyEast Northamptonshire 7
North Yorkshire SelbyHarrogateCravenRichmondshireHambletonRyedaleScarborough 7
Nottinghamshire RushcliffeBroxtoweAshfieldGedlingNewark and SherwoodMansfieldBassetlaw 7
Oxfordshire OxfordCherwellSouth OxfordshireVale of White HorseWest Oxfordshire 5
Somerset South SomersetSomerset West and TauntonSedgemoorMendip 4
Staffordshire TamworthLichfieldCannock ChaseSouth StaffordshireStaffordNewcastle-under-LymeStaffordshire MoorlandsEast Staffordshire 8
Suffolk IpswichBaberghEast SuffolkMid SuffolkWest Suffolk 5
Surrey SpelthorneRunnymedeSurrey HeathWokingElmbridgeGuildfordWaverleyMole ValleyEpsom and EwellReigate and BansteadTandridge 11
Warwickshire North WarwickshireNuneaton and BedworthRugbyStratford-on-AvonWarwick 5
West Sussex WorthingArunChichesterHorshamCrawleyMid SussexAdur 7
Worcestershire WorcesterMalvern HillsWyre ForestBromsgroveRedditchWychavon 6
Total 192

List of abolished non-metropolitan districts

This is a list of former two-tier districts in England which have been abolished, by local government reorganisations such as the 2009 structural changes to local government in England. It does not include districts that still exist after becoming a unitary authority or those that transferred from one county to another, including those that changed name.

Non-metropolitan county (at time of abolition) Abolished non-metropolitan districts Number
Avon BathKingswoodNorthavonWansdyke 4
Bedfordshire Mid BedfordshireSouth Bedfordshire 2
Cheshire ChesterCongletonCrewe and NantwichEllesmere Port and NestonMacclesfieldVale Royal 6
Cornwall CaradonCarrickKerrierNorth CornwallPenwithRestormel 6
Dorset Weymouth and PortlandWest DorsetNorth DorsetPurbeckEast DorsetChristchurch 6
Durham DurhamEasingtonSedgefieldChester-le-StreetDerwentsideWear ValleyTeesdale 7
East Sussex BrightonHove 2
Hereford and Worcester HerefordLeominsterSouth Herefordshire 3
Humberside BeverleyBoothferryCleethorpesEast YorkshireGlanfordGreat GrimsbyHoldernessScunthorpe 8
Isle of Wight MedinaSouth Wight 2
Kent GillinghamRochester-upon-Medway 2
Northumberland Blyth ValleyWansbeckCastle MorpethTynedaleAlnwickBerwick-upon-Tweed 6
Somerset Taunton DeaneWest Somerset 2
Suffolk Forest HeathSt EdmundsburySuffolk CoastalWaveney 4
Shropshire BridgnorthNorth ShropshireOswestryShrewsbury and AtchamSouth Shropshire 5
Wiltshire KennetNorth WiltshireSalisburyWest Wiltshire 4
Total 69

See also


  1. ^ National Statistics – Counties, Non-metropolitan Districts and Unitary Authorities Archived 9 May 2002 at the UK Government Web Archive
  2. ^ "Members | District Councils' Network". Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  3. ^ "Special interest groups | Local Government Association". Government of the United Kingdom. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013.

External links

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council elections

Blackburn with Darwen is a unitary authority in Lancashire, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district.

Blackpool Borough Council elections

Blackpool is a unitary authority in Lancashire, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole is a unitary local government district in England. It was created on 1 April 2019 from the areas that were previously administered by the unitary authorities of Bournemouth and Poole, and the non-metropolitan district of Christchurch.

Bournemouth Borough Council elections

Bournemouth was a unitary authority in Dorset, England until 31 March 2019. Until 1 April 1997 it was a non-metropolitan district.

Cambridge City Council

Cambridge City Council is a district council in the county of Cambridgeshire, based in the city of Cambridge.

City of York Council

City of York Council is the unitary council for the City of York, Yorkshire. It is responsible for all local government services in the City of York, except for services provided by York's town and parish councils.

Halton Borough Council elections

Halton is a unitary authority in Cheshire, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district.

Luton Borough Council elections

Luton is a unitary authority in Bedfordshire, England. Until 1 April 1997 it was a non-metropolitan district.

Maidstone Borough Council

Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) is the second level local authority for the Borough of Maidstone in Kent, United Kingdom.

Nottingham City Council elections

Nottingham is a unitary authority in Nottinghamshire, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district.

Plymouth City Council elections

Plymouth is a unitary authority in Devon, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district.

Poole Borough Council elections

Poole was a unitary authority in Dorset, England from 1997 to 2019. Until 1 April 1997 it was a non-metropolitan district. In 2019 it was abolished and subsumed into Dorset Council.

Portsmouth City Council elections

Portsmouth is a unitary authority in Hampshire, England. Until 1 April 1997 it was a non-metropolitan district.

Reading Borough Council elections

Reading is a unitary authority in Berkshire, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district.

Southampton City Council elections

Southampton City Council elections are held three out of every four years to elect members of Southampton City Council, the local authority for the city of Southampton in Hampshire, England. Since 1 April 1997 Southampton has been a unitary authority responsible for all local government functions; prior to this it was a non-metropolitan district beneath Hampshire County Council.

Southampton City Council is made up of 48 councillors, with three councillors representing each of 16 wards. One councillor from each ward is elected each May on a four-year cycle, with no elections in the fourth year.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council elections

Southend-on-Sea is a unitary authority in Essex, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council elections

Stoke-on-Trent is a unitary authority in Staffordshire, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district. Between 2002 and 2009 it also had a directly elected mayor.

Warrington Borough Council elections

Warrington is a unitary authority in Cheshire, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district.

West Berkshire Council elections

West Berkshire is a unitary authority in Berkshire, England. Until 1 April 1998 it was a non-metropolitan district.

Ceremonial County
Administrative County
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Designations for types of administrative territorial entities

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