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
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 Y Y
Housing Y Y
Planning applications Y Y
Strategic planning Y Y
Transport planning Y Y
Passenger transport Y Y
Highways Y Y
Fire Y Y
Social services Y Y
Libraries Y Y
Leisure and recreation Y Y
Waste collection Y Y
Waste disposal Y Y
Environmental health Y Y
Revenue collection Y Y


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
BuckinghamshireSouth BucksChilternWycombeAylesbury Vale 4
CambridgeshireCambridgeSouth CambridgeshireHuntingdonshireFenlandEast Cambridgeshire 5
CumbriaBarrow-in-FurnessSouth LakelandCopelandAllerdaleEdenCarlisle 6
DerbyshireHigh PeakDerbyshire DalesSouth DerbyshireErewashAmber ValleyNorth East DerbyshireChesterfieldBolsover 8
DevonExeterEast DevonMid DevonNorth DevonTorridgeWest DevonSouth HamsTeignbridge 8
East SussexHastingsRotherWealdenEastbourneLewes 5
EssexHarlowEpping ForestBrentwoodBasildonCastle PointRochfordMaldonChelmsfordUttlesfordBraintreeColchesterTendring 12
GloucestershireGloucesterTewkesburyCheltenhamCotswoldStroudForest of Dean 6
HampshireGosportFarehamWinchesterHavantEast HampshireHartRushmoorBasingstoke and DeaneTest ValleyEastleighNew Forest 11
HertfordshireThree RiversWatfordHertsmereWelwyn HatfieldBroxbourneEast HertfordshireStevenageNorth HertfordshireSt AlbansDacorum 10
KentDartfordGraveshamSevenoaksTonbridge and MallingTunbridge WellsMaidstoneSwaleAshfordFolkestone and HytheCanterburyDoverThanet 12
LancashireWest LancashireChorleySouth RibbleFyldePrestonWyreLancasterRibble ValleyPendleBurnleyRossendaleHyndburn 12
LeicestershireCharnwoodMeltonHarboroughOadby and WigstonBlabyHinckley and BosworthNorth West Leicestershire 7
LincolnshireLincolnNorth KestevenSouth KestevenSouth HollandBostonEast LindseyWest Lindsey 7
NorfolkNorwichSouth NorfolkGreat YarmouthBroadlandNorth NorfolkKing's Lynn and West NorfolkBreckland 7
NorthamptonshireSouth NorthamptonshireNorthamptonDaventryWellingboroughKetteringCorbyEast Northamptonshire 7
North YorkshireSelbyHarrogateCravenRichmondshireHambletonRyedaleScarborough 7
NottinghamshireRushcliffeBroxtoweAshfieldGedlingNewark and SherwoodMansfieldBassetlaw 7
OxfordshireOxfordCherwellSouth OxfordshireVale of White HorseWest Oxfordshire 5
SomersetSouth SomersetSomerset West and TauntonSedgemoorMendip 4
StaffordshireTamworthLichfieldCannock ChaseSouth StaffordshireStaffordNewcastle-under-LymeStaffordshire MoorlandsEast Staffordshire 8
SuffolkIpswichBaberghEast SuffolkMid SuffolkWest Suffolk 5
SurreySpelthorneRunnymedeSurrey HeathWokingElmbridgeGuildfordWaverleyMole ValleyEpsom and EwellReigate and BansteadTandridge 11
WarwickshireNorth WarwickshireNuneaton and BedworthRugbyStratford-on-AvonWarwick 5
West SussexWorthingArunChichesterHorshamCrawleyMid SussexAdur 7
WorcestershireWorcesterMalvern HillsWyre ForestBromsgroveRedditchWychavon 6

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
AvonBathKingswoodNorthavonWansdyke 4
BedfordshireMid BedfordshireSouth Bedfordshire 2
CheshireChesterCongletonCrewe and NantwichEllesmere Port and NestonMacclesfieldVale Royal 6
CornwallCaradonCarrickKerrierNorth CornwallPenwithRestormel 6
Dorset Weymouth and PortlandWest DorsetNorth DorsetPurbeckEast DorsetChristchurch 6
DurhamDurhamEasingtonSedgefieldChester-le-StreetDerwentsideWear ValleyTeesdale 7
East SussexBrightonHove 2
Hereford and WorcesterHerefordLeominsterSouth Herefordshire 3
HumbersideBeverleyBoothferryCleethorpesEast YorkshireGlanfordGreat GrimsbyHoldernessScunthorpe 8
Isle of WightMedinaSouth Wight 2
KentGillinghamRochester-upon-Medway 2
NorthumberlandBlyth ValleyWansbeckCastle MorpethTynedaleAlnwickBerwick-upon-Tweed 6
SomersetTaunton DeaneWest Somerset 2
SuffolkForest HeathSt EdmundsburySuffolk CoastalWaveney 4
ShropshireBridgnorthNorth ShropshireOswestryShrewsbury and AtchamSouth Shropshire 5
WiltshireKennetNorth WiltshireSalisburyWest Wiltshire 4

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.
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