United Kingdom - Local government

The scope of local governing bodies is defined and limited by acts of Parliament, which also makes certain ministers responsible for the efficient functioning of local services. In England, local government is supervised by the Department of the Environment; the regional parliaments supervise local governments in Wales and Scotland; and Northern Ireland, which was supposed to also have devolved powers, was placed back under the supervision of the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.

From 1965 to 1985, Greater London, the nation's largest metropolitan area, was subdivided into 32 London boroughs; the Greater London Council was the chief administrative authority. Under the Local Government Act of 1985, however, the Greater London Council was abolished and its functions were transferred to London borough and metropolitan district councils, excepting certain services (such as police and fire services and public transport) now administered by joint borough and council authorities. The Labor Party government returned local government to London. However, the mayor's office has a limited budget and few policy powers. The mayor's office coordinates relationship among the different boroughs and controls local transport (Underground).

Under the Local Government Act of 1972, the county system that had prevailed throughout the rest of England and Wales was replaced by a two-tier structure of counties and districts. In the 1990s, local governmental structures were reorganized, and single-tier administrations with responsibility for all areas of local government were reestablished. There are currently 46 unitary authorities in England, and 34 shire counties split into 239 non-metropolitan districts. These in turn are subdivided into electoral wards and districts. In 2000, a two-tier structure was reestablished for London; it has 32 boroughs and the City of London. Scotland is subject to the administration of both the UK government in Westminster and the Scottish executive in Edinburgh, and Wales is subject to the administration of Westminster and the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff. Scotland is divided into 32 council areas, which in turn are divided into electoral wards and communities. Wales is subdivided into 22 unitary authorities, which in turn are divided into electoral divisions and communities. Northern Ireland is subject to the administration of both the UK government and the Northern Ireland Executive in Belfast. It is divided into 26 districts, which in turn are divided into electoral wards. As of 1 May 2003 the United Kingdom had 10,679 electoral wards/divisions. The minimum voting age in local elections is 18.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: