Local Government Act 1972

Public General Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom

The Local Government Act 1972 (1972 c. 70) is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom, that reformed local government in England and Wales, on 1 April 1974.[1]

Its pattern of two-tier councils remains in use today in large parts of England, although the metropolitan county councils were abolished in 1986 and it was replaced with unitary authorities in many areas in the 1990s. In Wales, it established a similar pattern of counties and districts.[2] These have since been entirely replaced with a system of unitary authorities. In Scotland, the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 established a similar system of two-tier regions and districts in 1975 – this was also replaced by a system of unitary council areas in 1996.

Elections were held to the new authorities in 1973, and they acted as 'shadow authorities' until the handover date. Elections to county councils were held on April 12, for metropolitan and Welsh districts on May 10 for non-metropolitan district councils on June 7.[3]



Metropolitan counties

Metropolitan county Existing geographic county or subdivision County boroughs Other parts
Greater Manchester Cheshire Stockport urban north-east Cheshire
Lancashire Bury, Bolton, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Wigan urban south-east Lancashire
Yorkshire, West Riding none Saddleworth urban district
Merseyside Cheshire Birkenhead, Wallasey most of Wirral peninsula
Lancashire Bootle, Liverpool, St Helens, Southport urban south-west Lancashire
South Yorkshire Yorkshire, West Riding Barnsley, Doncaster, Sheffield, Rotherham southern West Riding
Tyne and Wear Durham Gateshead, South Shields, Sunderland urban north-east Durham
Northumberland Tynemouth, Newcastle upon Tyne urban south-east Northumberland
West Midlands Staffordshire Dudley, Walsall, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton Aldridge-Brownhills
Warwickshire Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull Sutton Coldfield, Meriden Gap
Worcestershire Warley Halesowen and Stourbridge
West Yorkshire Yorkshire, West Riding Bradford, Dewsbury, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Wakefield western West Riding of Yorkshire

Metropolitan districts

Metropolitan county Metropolitan district County boroughs Other components
Greater Manchester Bury Bury Prestwich, Radcliffe, Ramsbottom (part), Tottington, Whitefield (Lancashire)
Bolton Bolton Blackrod, Farnworth, Horwich, Kearsley, Little Lever, Turton (part), Westhoughton (Lancashire)
Manchester Manchester Ringway from Bucklow Rural District (Cheshire)
Oldham Oldham Chadderton, Shaw and Crompton, Failsworth, Lees and Royton (Lancashire); Saddleworth (West Riding)
Rochdale Rochdale Heywood, Littleborough, Middleton, Milnrow and Wardle (Lancashire)
Salford Salford Eccles, Irlam, Worsley, Swinton and Pendlebury (Lancashire)
Stockport Stockport Bredbury and Romiley, Cheadle and Gatley, Hazel Grove and Bramhall and Marple (Cheshire)
Tameside none Dukinfield, Hyde, Longdendale, Stalybridge (Cheshire); Ashton-under-Lyne, Audenshaw, Denton, Droylsden, Mossley (Lancashire)
Trafford none Altrincham, Bowdon, Hale, Sale, part of Bucklow Rural District (Cheshire); Stretford, Urmston (Lancashire)
Wigan Wigan Abram, Ashton-in-Makerfield (most), Aspull, Atherton, Billinge-and-Winstanley (part), Golborne (part), Hindley, Ince-in-Makerfield, Leigh, Orrell, Standish-with-Langtree, Tyldesley, part of Wigan Rural District (Lancashire)
Merseyside Knowsley none Huyton-with-Roby, Kirkby, Prescot, Simonswood, part of Whiston Rural District (Lancashire)
Liverpool Liverpool none
St Helens St Helens Ashton-in-Makerfield (part), Billinge-and-Winstanley (part) Haydock, Newton-le-Willows, Rainford, part of Whiston Rural District (Lancashire)
Sefton Bootle, Southport Crosby, Formby, Litherland, part of West Lancashire Rural District (Lancashire)
Wirral Birkenhead, Wallasey Bebington, Hoylake, Wirral (Cheshire)
South Yorkshire Barnsley Barnsley Cudworth, Darfield, Hoyland Nether, Penistone, Royston, Wombwell, Worsbrough; Penistone Rural District, part of Hemsworth Rural District; part of Wortley Rural District (West Riding)
Doncaster Doncaster Adwick le Street, Bentley with Arksey, Conisbrough, Mexborough, Tickhill (West Riding), Finningley (Nottinghamshire)
Sheffield Sheffield Stocksbridge, part of Wortley Rural District (West Riding)
Rotherham Rotherham Maltby, Rawmarsh, Swinton, Wath upon Dearne; Kiveton Park Rural District, Rotherham Rural District (West Riding)
Tyne and Wear Newcastle upon Tyne Newcastle upon Tyne Gosforth, Newburn, part of Castle Ward Rural District (Northumberland)
North Tyneside Tynemouth Wallsend, part of Whitley Bay, Longbenton, part of Seaton Valley (Northumberland)
Gateshead Gateshead Blaydon, Felling, Ryton and Whickham, part of Chester-le-Street Rural District (Durham)
South Tyneside South Shields Jarrow, Boldon, Hebburn (Durham)
Sunderland Sunderland Hetton, Houghton-le-Spring, Washington, part of Easington Rural District, part of Chester-le-Street Rural District (Durham)
West Midlands Birmingham Birmingham Sutton Coldfield (Warwickshire)
Coventry Coventry Allesley and Keresley from Meriden Rural District (Warwickshire)
Dudley Dudley Halesowen and Stourbridge (Worcestershire)
Sandwell Warley and West Bromwich none
Solihull Solihull many parishes from Meriden Rural District, and Hockley Heath from Stratford-on-Avon Rural District (Warwickshire)
Walsall Walsall Aldridge-Brownhills (Staffordshire)
Wolverhampton Wolverhampton none
West Yorkshire Bradford Bradford Baildon, Bingley, Denholme, Ilkley, Keighley, Queensbury and Shelf (part), Shipley, Silsden; part of Skipton Rural District (West Riding)
Calderdale Halifax Brighouse, Elland, Hebden Royd, Queensbury and Shelf (part), Ripponden, Sowerby Bridge, Todmorden, Hepton Rural District (West Riding)
Kirklees Dewsbury, Huddersfield Batley, Colne Valley, Denby Dale, Heckmondwike, Holmfirth, Kirkburton, Meltham, Mirfield, Spenborough (West Riding)
Leeds Leeds Aireborough, Garforth, Horsforth, Morley, Otley, Pudsey, Rothwell; part of Tadcaster Rural District, part of Wetherby Rural District, part of Wharfedale Rural District (West Riding)
Wakefield Wakefield Castleford, Featherstone, Hemsworth, Horbury, Knottingley, Normanton, Ossett, Pontefract, Stanley; Wakefield Rural District, part of Hemsworth Rural District, part of Osgoldcross Rural District (West Riding)

Non-metropolitan counties

Non-metropolitan county Existing geographic county or subdivision County boroughs Other parts
Avon Gloucestershire Bristol southern part
Somerset Bath northern part (including Weston-super-Mare)
Bedfordshire Bedfordshire Luton all
Berkshire Berkshire Reading all except part around Abingdon in Oxfordshire
Buckinghamshire none southern tip (including Slough)
Buckinghamshire Buckinghamshire none all except southern tip (including Slough) in Berkshire
Cambridgeshire Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely none all
Huntingdon and Peterborough none all
Cheshire Cheshire Chester all except Tintwistle Rural District (to Derbyshire), north-eastern urban area (to Greater Manchester), Wirral peninsula (to Merseyside)
Lancashire Warrington mid-southern part, including Widnes
Cleveland Durham Hartlepool Stockton Rural District
Yorkshire, North Riding Teesside urban north
Cornwall Cornwall none all
Cumbria Cumberland Carlisle all
Westmorland none all
Lancashire Barrow-in-Furness North Lonsdale
Yorkshire, West Riding none Sedbergh Rural District
Derbyshire Derbyshire Derby all
Cheshire none Tintwistle Rural District
Devon Devon Exeter, Plymouth, Torbay all
Dorset Dorset none all
Hampshire Bournemouth area around Christchurch
Durham Durham Darlington all except urban north-east (to Tyne and Wear) and Stockton Rural District (to Cleveland)
East Sussex East Sussex Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings all except eastern strip (to West Sussex)
Essex Essex Southend-on-Sea all
Gloucestershire Gloucestershire Gloucester all except southern part (to Avon)
Hampshire Hampshire Portsmouth, Southampton all except part around Christchurch (to Dorset)
Hereford and Worcester Herefordshire none all
Worcestershire Worcester all except Stourbridge and Halesowen (to West Midlands)
Hertfordshire Hertfordshire none all
Humberside Lincoln, Parts of Lindsey Grimsby northern strip including Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes
Yorkshire, East Riding Kingston upon Hull all except northern fringe
Yorkshire, West Riding none Goole and Goole Rural District
Isle of Wight Isle of Wight none all
Kent Kent Canterbury all
Lancashire Lancashire Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Preston central part only (south-east to Greater Manchester, south-west part to Merseyside, mid-south to Cheshire, North Lonsdale to Cumbria)
Yorkshire, West Riding none area including Barnoldswick
Leicestershire Leicestershire Leicester all
Rutland none all
Lincolnshire Lincolnshire, Parts of Holland none all
Lincolnshire, Parts of Lindsey Lincoln all but northern strip including Scunthorpe and Cleethorpes
Lincolnshire, Parts of Kesteven none
Norfolk Norfolk Norwich all
East Suffolk none part of Lothingland Rural District near Great Yarmouth
North Yorkshire North Riding of Yorkshire York all except urban north (to Cleveland) and Startforth Rural District (to Durham)
Yorkshire, West Riding northern part including Harrogate, Knaresborough and Selby
Yorkshire, East Riding northern part including Filey
Northamptonshire Northamptonshire Northampton all
Northumberland Northumberland none all except urban south-east (to Tyne and Wear)
Nottinghamshire Nottinghamshire Nottingham all except Finningley (to South Yorkshire)
Oxfordshire Oxfordshire Oxford all
Berkshire none area around Abingdon
Salop (Shropshire) Salop none all
Somerset Somerset none all except northern part (including Weston-super-Mare)
Staffordshire Staffordshire Burton upon Trent, Stoke-on-Trent all except Aldridge-Brownhills
Suffolk East Suffolk and West Suffolk Ipswich all, except part of north-east Suffolk near Great Yarmouth to Norfolk
Surrey Surrey none all except Gatwick Airport
Warwickshire Warwickshire none all except Sutton Coldfield and Meriden Gap (to West Midlands)
West Sussex West Sussex none all
East Sussex none eastern strip
Wiltshire Wiltshire none all

Non-metropolitan districts


The Local Government Boundary Commission originally proposed 278 non-metropolitan districts in April 1972 (still working with the county boundaries found in the Bill). A further eighteen districts were added in the final proposals of November 1972, which were then ordered.

The splits were as follows (in most cases the splits were not exact, and many other changes to the borders of the districts took place at this time)

The new district in Suffolk was necessitated by the decision to keep Newmarket in Suffolk; which would otherwise have become part of the South Cambridgeshire district.

Isles of Scilly


Section 265 af the Act allowed for the continuation of the local government arrangements for the Isles of Scilly. The Isles of Scilly Rural District Council became the Council of the Isles of Scilly, and certain services were to continue to be provided by Cornwall County Council as provided by order in council made by the Secretary of State, although the Isles were not technically in Cornwall before or after 1974.

New county Existing geographic county County boroughs Other parts
Clwyd Flintshire none all
Denbighshire none all except Llanrwst and area
Merionethshire none Edeyrnion Rural District
Dyfed Cardiganshire none all
Carmarthenshire none all
Pembrokeshire none all
Gwent Monmouthshire Newport except parts in Mid Glamorgan and South Glamorgan
Breconshire none Brynmawr and Llanelly
Gwynedd Anglesey none all
Caernarvonshire none all
Merionethshire none all except Edeyrnion Rural District
Denbighshire none Llanrwst and area
Mid Glamorgan Glamorgan Merthyr Tydfil Aberdare, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Rhondda etc.
Breconshire none Penderyn and Vaynor
Monmouthshire none Bedwas and Machen, Rhymney, part of Bedwellty
Powys Montgomeryshire none all
Radnorshire none all
Breconshire none all except parts to Gwent and Mid Glamorgan
South Glamorgan Glamorgan Cardiff Barry, Cowbridge, Penarth
Monmouthshire none St Mellons
West Glamorgan Glamorgan Swansea Glyncorrwg, Neath, Llwchwr, Port Talbot



Elections were held to the new authorities on three different Thursdays in 1973. Each new county and district was divided into electoral divisions. For county councils, each electoral division elected one member; for metropolitan district councils, each ward elected three members; and wards in non-metropolitan districts could elect a varying number of members. There was not sufficient time to conduct a full warding arrangement so a temporary system was used: in some county councils electoral divisions elected multiple councillors.[4]

Other websites



  1. HMSO. Local Government Act 1972. 1972 c.70
  2. Arnold-Baker, C., Local Government Act 1972, (1973)
  3. The Times, April 13, May 11, June 8, 1973
  4. Wood, Bruce. Process of Local Government Reform: 1966-1974. 1976