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 districts with borough status are known as boroughs, able to appoint a mayor and refer to itself as a borough council.

Non-metropolitan district
  • Also known as:
  • Shire district
CategoryLocal authority districts
Found inNon-metropolitan county
Created byLocal Government Act 1972
  • 1 April 1974
Number239 (as of 2021)
Possible types
Possible status

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 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 are subdivisions of the metropolitan counties created in 1974, but whose county councils were abolished in 1986 and are effectively unitary authorities with similar 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 two-tier non-metropolitan counties and their districts. All unitary authorities are non-metropolitan districts, which, with the exception of those of Berkshire, are coterminous with non-metropolitan counties.

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

Non-metropolitan county
(excluding unitary authorities)
Non-metropolitan districts
(excluding unitary authorities)
CambridgeshireCambridgeSouth CambridgeshireHuntingdonshireFenlandEast Cambridgeshire 005
CumbriaBarrow-in-FurnessSouth LakelandCopelandAllerdaleEdenCarlisle 006
DerbyshireHigh PeakDerbyshire DalesSouth DerbyshireErewashAmber ValleyNorth East DerbyshireChesterfieldBolsover 008
DevonExeterEast DevonMid DevonNorth DevonTorridgeWest DevonSouth HamsTeignbridge 008
East SussexHastingsRotherWealdenEastbourneLewes 005
EssexHarlowEpping ForestBrentwoodBasildonCastle PointRochfordMaldonChelmsfordUttlesfordBraintreeColchesterTendring 012
GloucestershireGloucesterTewkesburyCheltenhamCotswoldStroudForest of Dean 006
HampshireGosportFarehamWinchesterHavantEast HampshireHartRushmoorBasingstoke and DeaneTest ValleyEastleighNew Forest 011
HertfordshireThree RiversWatfordHertsmereWelwyn HatfieldBroxbourneEast HertfordshireStevenageNorth HertfordshireSt AlbansDacorum 010
KentDartfordGraveshamSevenoaksTonbridge and MallingTunbridge WellsMaidstoneSwaleAshfordFolkestone and HytheCanterburyDoverThanet 012
LancashireWest LancashireChorleySouth RibbleFyldePrestonWyreLancasterRibble ValleyPendleBurnleyRossendaleHyndburn 012
LeicestershireCharnwoodMeltonHarboroughOadby and WigstonBlabyHinckley and BosworthNorth West Leicestershire 007
LincolnshireLincolnNorth KestevenSouth KestevenSouth HollandBostonEast LindseyWest Lindsey 007
NorfolkNorwichSouth NorfolkGreat YarmouthBroadlandNorth NorfolkKing's Lynn and West NorfolkBreckland 007
North YorkshireSelbyHarrogateCravenRichmondshireHambletonRyedaleScarborough 007
NottinghamshireRushcliffeBroxtoweAshfieldGedlingNewark and SherwoodMansfieldBassetlaw 007
OxfordshireOxfordCherwellSouth OxfordshireVale of White HorseWest Oxfordshire 005
SomersetSouth SomersetSomerset West and TauntonSedgemoorMendip 004
StaffordshireTamworthLichfieldCannock ChaseSouth Staffordshire – Stafford – Newcastle-under-LymeStaffordshire MoorlandsEast Staffordshire 008
SuffolkIpswichBaberghEast SuffolkMid Suffolk – West Suffolk 005
SurreySpelthorneRunnymedeSurrey HeathWokingElmbridgeGuildfordWaverleyMole ValleyEpsom and EwellReigate and BansteadTandridge 011
WarwickshireNorth WarwickshireNuneaton and BedworthRugbyStratford-on-AvonWarwick 005
West SussexWorthingArunChichesterHorshamCrawleyMid SussexAdur 007
WorcestershireWorcesterMalvern HillsWyre ForestBromsgroveRedditchWychavon 006

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. Nor does it include unitary authorities that have been abolished (Bournemouth and Poole).

Non-metropolitan county (at time of abolition) Abolished non-metropolitan districts Number
AvonBath – Kingswood – Northavon – Wansdyke 04
BedfordshireMid BedfordshireSouth Bedfordshire 02
BuckinghamshireSouth BucksChilternWycombeAylesbury Vale 04
CheshireChesterCongletonCrewe and NantwichEllesmere Port and NestonMacclesfieldVale Royal 06
CornwallCaradonCarrickKerrierNorth CornwallPenwithRestormel 06
Dorset Weymouth and PortlandWest DorsetNorth DorsetPurbeckEast DorsetChristchurch 06
DurhamDurhamEasington – Sedgefield – Chester-le-Street – Derwentside – Wear Valley – Teesdale 07
East SussexBrightonHove 02
Hereford and WorcesterHerefordLeominster – South Herefordshire 03
HumbersideEast Yorkshire Borough of Beverley – Boothferry – Cleethorpes – East Yorkshire – Glanford – Great Grimsby – Holderness – Scunthorpe 08
Isle of WightMedinaSouth Wight 02
KentGillinghamRochester-upon-Medway 02
NorthamptonshireSouth NorthamptonshireNorthamptonDaventryWellingboroughKetteringCorbyEast Northamptonshire 07
North YorkshireYork[lower-alpha 1] 01
NorthumberlandBlyth Valley – Wansbeck – Castle Morpeth – Tynedale – AlnwickBerwick-upon-Tweed 06
ShropshireBridgnorthNorth Shropshire – Oswestry – Shrewsbury and Atcham – South Shropshire 05
SomersetTaunton DeaneWest Somerset 02
SuffolkForest HeathSt EdmundsburySuffolk CoastalWaveney 04
WiltshireKennetNorth WiltshireSalisburyWest Wiltshire 04

See also


  1. the district was abolished in 1996 and merged to form a larger York unitary district


  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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