Redcliffe-Maud Report

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Local government in England as proposed by the report. The metropolitan areas are 22 (Merseyside), 23 (Selnec) and 25 (West Midlands).

The Redcliffe-Maud Report is the name generally given to the report published by the Royal Commission on Local Government in England 1966-1969 under the chairmanship of The Rt. Hon. Lord Redcliffe-Maud. The commission was given the task of looking at the then structure of local government in England and making recommendations for change. It excluded Greater London, which had been re-organised in 1965.


The report

Broadly the report recommended the abolition of all the existing county, county borough, borough, urban district and rural district councils, which had been created at the end of the 19th Century, and replacing them with new unitary authorities. These new unitary authorities were largely based on major towns, which acted as regional employment, commercial, social and recreational centres and took into account local transport infrastructure and travel patterns.

There were to be 58 new unitary authorities and three metropolitan areas (Merseyside, South East Lancashire/North East Cheshire or 'Selnec' and West Midlands), which were to be sub-divided into lower tier metropolitan districts. These new authorities, along with Greater London were to be grouped into eight provinces, each with its own provincial council.

The then Labour Party Government broadly accepted the recommendations of the report, but the Conservative Party won the 1970 general election. The new Government was committed to a two-tier system, and in 1971 announced its intentions, which lead to the 1974 re-organisation. Although the general plan of the Report was abandoned, many of the specific innovations were carried over, such as the plan to associate Slough with Berkshire, and Bournemouth with Dorset.


The Commission was nearly unanimous, with some reservations as to the exact geographic details. One member of the Commission, Derek Senior, dissented entirely from the proposals, and put forward his own in a Memorandum of Dissent, which was slightly larger than the Report itself. He preferring a two-tier system, with 35 city-regions of varying size, along with 148 districts. At a lower level, there would be 'common councils', roughly equivalent to civil parish councils, which would also cover communities within large towns. These proposals effectively ignored traditional boundaries, to a much greater extent than the Report itself did.


In the implemented system, the three metropolitan areas became metropolitan counties, though their area was greatly reduced. A further three were added, covering the Leeds/Bradford area (West Yorkshire), the Sheffield/Rotherham area (South Yorkshire) and the Tyneside area (Tyne and Wear). The concept of authorities based around Bristol (Avon), and Teesside (Cleveland) was also retained. In most areas though, the 1974 system was far more conservative and retained more traditional boundaries.

The situation of wholly two-tier government did not last. The county councils for the metropolitan counties were abolished in 1986 by Margaret Thatcher's government, making the metropolitan boroughs into unitary authorities. A further set of reforms in the 1990s led to the re-establishment of many old county boroughs as unitary authorities, along with other areas.

In 2004 the Government put forward a proposal to introduce directly-elected regional assemblies in the three regions of Northern England, should referendums produce a 'yes' vote (in the event the first region voted 'no' overwhelmingly, and the other referendums were abandoned). The regional boundaries proposed were very similar to the three northern Redcliffe-Maud provinces. Associated with this reform would have been a move to wholly unitary local government in the affected regions. In the area of Cumbria and Lancashire, the proposals bear a striking resemblance to the ones in the Report.

Proposed Unitary Areas

The names given in brackets defining the areas in terms of current counties and districts (unless otherwise stated) and are only an approximation.

North East Province

Corresponds broadly to the North East England region.

  1. Northumberland (the present administrative county)
  2. Tyneside (the present ceremonial county of Tyne and Wear, excluding Sunderland
  3. Durham (the present administrative county, excluding Easington)
  4. Sunderland & East Durham (the current districts of Sunderland and Easington)
  5. Teesside (the former administrative county of Cleveland plus Whitby and surrounding hinterland)

Yorkshire Province

Corresponds closely to the Yorkshire and the Humber region.

  1. York (the administrative county of North Yorkshire except the districts of Harrogate and Craven and the area around Whitby)
  2. Bradford (the districts of Bradford and Craven)
  3. Leeds (the districts of Leeds and Harrogate)
  4. Halifax (the district of Calderdale)
  5. Huddersfield (the district of Kirklees)
  6. Mid-Yorkshire (the district of Wakefield)
  7. Sheffield & South Yorkshire (the districts of Sheffield and Rotherham)
  8. Doncaster (the district of Doncaster)
  9. North Humberside (the ceremonial county of East Riding of Yorkshire)
  10. South Humberside (the districts of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire)

North West Province

As North West England region except for southern Cheshire.

  1. Cumberland & North Westmorland (the traditional county of Cumberland and the area around Appleby)
  2. Furness & North Lancashire (the districts of Barrow-in-Furness, South Lakeland and Lancaster)
  3. The Fylde (the districts of Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre)
  4. Preston-Leyland-Chorley (the districts of Preston, South Ribble and Chorley)
  5. Blackburn (the districts of Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley)
  6. Burnley (the districts of Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale)
  7. Merseyside metropolitan area (see below)
  8. Selnec metropolitan area (see below)

West Midlands Province

As West Midlands region, but includes southern Cheshire.

  1. Stoke & North Staffordshire (the districts of Stoke on Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire Moorlands, Stafford, East Staffordshire, Congleton and Crewe and Nantwich)
  2. West Midlands metropolitan area (see below)
  3. Shropshire (the present ceremonial county)
  4. Hereford & South Worcestershire (the administrative counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire, excluding the districts of Wyre Forest, Bromsgrove and Redditch)
  5. Coventry & Warwickshire (the administrative county plus the district of Coventry)

East Midlands Province

As East Midlands region, but excludes Northamptonshire.

  1. Derby & Derbyshire (the ceremonial county excluding the area around Glossop, plus the area around Burton-upon-Trent)
  2. Nottingham & Nottinghamshire (the ceremonial county)
  3. Leicester & Leicestershire (the ceremonial counties of Leicestershire and Rutland except for a small area to the east)
  4. Lincoln & Lincolnshire (the ceremonial county except for the districts of North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire, South Holland and the areas around Bourne and Stamford)

South West Province

Corresponds closely to South West England region.

  1. Cornwall (the administrative county except the area around Saltash)
  2. Plymouth (the district of Plymouth, the southern half of West Devon, the western part of South Hams and the area around Saltash)
  3. Exeter & Devon (the ceremonial county except the southern half of West Devon and the western part of South Hams)
  4. Somerset (the administrative county except the area around Frome)
  5. Bristol & Bath (the former county of Avon, plus the adjacent parts of Wiltshire and the area around Frome)
  6. North Gloucestershire (the administrative county)
  7. Wiltshire (the ceremonial county except the northern part of West Wiltshire and the western part of North Wiltshire)
  8. Bournemouth & Dorset (the ceremonial county except the area around Sherborne, plus the western half of New Forest)

East Anglia Province

Corresponds to Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, northern Essex and south-east Lincolnshire.

  1. Peterborough-North Fens (the districts of Peterborough, Fenland and South Holland plus the areas around Bourne, Stamford, Oundle and Ramsey)
  2. Cambridge-South Fens (the districts of Cambridge, East Cambridgeshire and South Cambridgeshire plus the areas around Newmarket, Saffron Walden, Haverhill, Royston, Huntingdon and St. Ives)
  3. Norwich & Norfolk (the administrative county except a small area to the west plus the district of Waveney)
  4. Ipswich, Suffolk & North East Essex (the administrative county, except the areas around Newmarket and Haverhill, plus the districts of Colchester, Tendring and the northern part of Braintree)

South East Province

  1. Oxford & Oxfordshire (the administrative county except the area around Henley, plus the area around Brackley)
  2. Northampton & Northamptonshire (the administrative county except the areas around Brackley and Oundle)
  3. Bedford & North Buckinghamshire (the districts of Bedford and Milton Keynes, plus the areas around Buckingham and Ampthill)
  4. Mid-Buckinghamshire (the districts of Chiltern and Wycombe plus the areas around Aylesbury and Tring)
  5. Luton & West Hertfordshire (the districts of Dacorum except Tring, St Albans, Watford, Three Rivers, Hertsmere except Potters Bar, Luton and South Bedfordshire)
  6. East Hertfordshire (the districts of Broxbourne, East Hertfordshire, Welwyn Hatfield, Stevenage, Harlow, North Hertfordshire except Royston, the western halves of Epping Forest and Uttlesford and the areas around Biggleswade and Sandy)
  7. Essex (the ceremonial county except the districts of Colchester, Harlow and Tendring, the western areas of Epping Forest and Uttlesford and the area around Saffron Walden)
  8. Reading & Berkshire (the ceremonial county plus the areas around Henley and the southern part of Buckinghamshire)
  9. West Surrey (the districts of Spelthorne, Elmbridge, Runnymede, Surrey Heath, Woking, Guildford, Waverley, Rushmoor, Hart and the northern part of East Hampshire)
  10. East Surrey (the districts of Epsom and Ewell, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Tandridge and Crawley)
  11. West Kent (the western half of the current ceremonial county)
  12. Canterbury & East Kent (the eastern half of the current ceremonial county)
  13. Southampton & South Hampshire (the districts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Test Valley, the northern part of Winchester and the eastern part of New Forest)
  14. Portsmouth, South East Hampshire (the Isle of Wight, the districts of Fareham, Gosport, Portsmouth, Havant an the southern parts of Winchester and East Hampshire)
  15. West Sussex (the districts of Arun, Adur, Chichester, Horsham and Worthing)
  16. Brighton & Mid-Sussex (the districts of Brighton and Hove, Mid Sussex and Lewes)
  17. East Sussex (the districts of Eastbourne, Hastings, Rother and Wealden)
  • Greater London (as at present)

Proposed Metropolitan Areas


(Merseyside, plus the districts of West Lancashire, Halton, Ellesmere Port and Neston, Chester and part of Vale Royal)


(South East Lancashire - North East Cheshire)

(Greater Manchester, plus the northern part of Cheshire)

West Midlands

(County of West Midlands, excluding Coventry, plus Wyre Forest, Bromsgrove, Redditch, Tamworth, Lichfield, South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase and the area around Stafford.


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