Non-metropolitan district

Non-metropolitan district
Non-metropolitan district
Also known as Shire district
Category Districts
Location England
Found in Non-metropolitan county
Created by Local Government Act 1972
Created 1 April 1974
Number 256 (as of 2009)
Possible types two-tier (201)
unitary and Berkshire (55)
Possible status City
Royal borough

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 so-called "two-tier" arrangement. In the 1990s, several non-metropolitan counties were created that are unitary authorities and also have non-metropolitan district status. A third category is the districts of Berkshire, which are non-metropolitan districts that are unitary authorities, but without non-metropolitan county status.


Shire districts

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

  • County councils are responsible for running the largest and most expensive local services such as education, social services, libraries, main roads, public transport, policing and fire services, trading standards, waste disposal and strategic planning.
Service Non-metropolitan county Non-metropolitan district Unitary authority
Education YesY YesY
Housing YesY YesY
Planning applications YesY YesY
Strategic planning YesY YesY
Transport planning YesY YesY
Passenger transport YesY YesY
Highways YesY YesY
Fire YesY YesY
Social services YesY YesY
Libraries YesY YesY
Leisure and recreation YesY YesY
Waste collection YesY YesY
Waste disposal YesY YesY
Environmental health YesY YesY
Revenue collection YesY YesY


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 the 1980s 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 of 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 then 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 201. A further 55 non-metropolitan districts are now unitary authorities, which combine the functions of county and 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.

List of counties and districts

This is a list of shire counties and their shire districts. Some counties contain unitary authorities, which are excluded from this list as are the counties of Berkshire which has no county council, and the counties of Herefordshire, the Isle of Wight, and Rutland which have no districts.

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 Bucks - Chiltern - Wycombe - Aylesbury Vale 4
Cambridgeshire Cambridge - South Cambridgeshire - Huntingdonshire - Fenland - East Cambridgeshire 5
Cumbria Barrow-in-Furness - South Lakeland - Copeland - Allerdale - Eden - Carlisle 6
Derbyshire High Peak - Derbyshire Dales - South Derbyshire - Erewash - Amber Valley - North East Derbyshire - Chesterfield - Bolsover 8
Devon Exeter - East Devon - Mid Devon - North Devon - Torridge - West Devon - South Hams - Teignbridge 8
Dorset Weymouth and Portland - West Dorset - North Dorset - Purbeck - East Dorset - Christchurch 6
East Sussex Hastings - Rother - Wealden - Eastbourne - Lewes 5
Essex Harlow - Epping Forest - Brentwood - Basildon - Castle Point - Rochford - Maldon - Chelmsford - Uttlesford - Braintree - Colchester - Tendring 12
Gloucestershire Gloucester - Tewkesbury - Cheltenham - Cotswold - Stroud - Forest of Dean 6
Hampshire Gosport - Fareham - Winchester - Havant - East Hampshire - Hart - Rushmoor - Basingstoke and Deane - Test Valley - Eastleigh - New Forest 11
Hertfordshire Three Rivers - Watford - Hertsmere - Welwyn Hatfield - Broxbourne - East Hertfordshire - Stevenage - North Hertfordshire - St Albans - Dacorum 10
Kent Dartford - Gravesham - Sevenoaks - Tonbridge and Malling - Tunbridge Wells - Maidstone - Swale - Ashford - Shepway - Canterbury - Dover - Thanet 12
Lancashire West Lancashire - Chorley - South Ribble - Fylde - Preston - Wyre - Lancaster - Ribble Valley - Pendle - Burnley - Rossendale - Hyndburn 12
Leicestershire Charnwood - Melton - Harborough - Oadby and Wigston - Blaby - Hinckley and Bosworth - North West Leicestershire 7
Lincolnshire Lincoln - North Kesteven - South Kesteven - South Holland - Boston - East Lindsey - West Lindsey 7
Norfolk Norwich - South Norfolk - Great Yarmouth - Broadland - North Norfolk - King's Lynn and West Norfolk - Breckland 7
Northamptonshire South Northamptonshire - Northampton - Daventry - Wellingborough - Kettering - Corby - East Northamptonshire 7
North Yorkshire Selby - Harrogate - Craven - Richmondshire - Hambleton - Ryedale - Scarborough 7
Nottinghamshire Rushcliffe - Broxtowe - Ashfield - Gedling - Newark and Sherwood - Mansfield - Bassetlaw 7
Oxfordshire Oxford - Cherwell - South Oxfordshire - Vale of White Horse - West Oxfordshire 5
Somerset South Somerset - Taunton Deane - West Somerset - Sedgemoor - Mendip 5
Staffordshire Tamworth - Lichfield - Cannock Chase - South Staffordshire - Stafford - Newcastle-under-Lyme - Staffordshire Moorlands - East Staffordshire 8
Suffolk Ipswich - Suffolk Coastal - Waveney - Mid Suffolk - Babergh - St Edmundsbury - Forest Heath 7
Surrey Spelthorne - Runnymede - Surrey Heath - Woking - Elmbridge - Guildford - Waverley - Mole Valley - Epsom and Ewell - Reigate and Banstead - Tandridge 11
Warwickshire North Warwickshire - Nuneaton and Bedworth - Rugby - Stratford-on-Avon - Warwick 5
West Sussex Worthing - Arun - Chichester - Horsham - Crawley - Mid Sussex - Adur 7
Worcestershire Worcester - Malvern Hills - Wyre Forest - Bromsgrove - Redditch - Wychavon 6
Total 201

List of abolished non-metropolitan districts

This is a list of former two-tier districts in England which have been abolished, by local government reorganizations 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 Bath - Kingswood - Northavon - Wansdyke 4
Bedfordshire Mid Bedfordshire - South Bedfordshire 2
Cheshire Chester - Congleton - Crewe and Nantwich - Ellesmere Port and Neston - Macclesfield - Vale Royal 6
Cornwall Caradon - Carrick - Kerrier - North Cornwall - Penwith - Restormel 6
Durham Durham - Easington - Sedgefield - Chester-le-Street - Derwentside - Wear Valley - Teesdale 7
East Sussex Brighton - Hove 2
Hereford and Worcester Hereford - Leominster - South Herefordshire 3
Humberside Beverley - Boothferry - Cleethorpes - East Yorkshire - Glanford - Great Grimsby - Holderness - Scunthorpe 8
Isle of Wight Medina - South Wight 2
Kent Gillingham - Rochester-upon-Medway 2
Northumberland Blyth Valley - Wansbeck - Castle Morpeth - Tynedale - Alnwick - Berwick-upon-Tweed 6
Shropshire Bridgnorth - North Shropshire - Oswestry - Shrewsbury and Atcham - South Shropshire 5
Wiltshire Kennet - North Wiltshire - Salisbury - West Wiltshire 4
Total 57

See also


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