Monday, 24 July 2006

Our real Counties can exist alongside local government

There is no reason why local government should not be organised in units that best suit an area. The problem is that people seem to think that every time local government is reorganised we change the name of the area we live in to suit whatever name was dreamt up to call the Council.

We suddenly become the people of Three Rivers or the side of a river or, its valley. It is getting ridiculous. England has 39 real Counties, everyone knows them and most were created more than 1000 years before local government as we know it.

The 1888 LG Act created County Councils more or less on existing County Boundaries but made a clear distinction between the historic, geographic Counties and Administrative counties. The 1972 LG Act abolished certain County Councils like the North Riding of Yorkshire but it did not abolish the North Riding. "These changes are for local government purposes only for all other purposes Yorkshire is still Yorkshire," was the statement issued at the time and much repeated since.

There is a simple solution and the Liberal Democrats agreed this at the Manchester Spring Conference.

Englands 39 real Counties do not require an administrative purpose (Yorkshire itself has never had one) but if you use them for all cultural, ceremonial, sporting and postal purposes we can retain a stable geography that people are comfortable with and is shown on maps alongside LG areas. Then there is none of the heartache and sentiment that comes with the perceived abolition of historic Counties.

Local government can be changed as often as you like and cross as many County boundaries as necessary if you accept that these are for local government purposes only.

Royal Mail have already accepted the distinction between administrative areas and real counties by allowing people to use their real County as part of their postal address. Redcar and Cleveland Unitary Council - for twenty one years part of Cleveland County - now uses Yorkshire as part of its postal address.

Unitaries are the way forward but they must be there for administrative purposes and the name of the area should not have to change, destroying our heritage, every time they are reorganised. Our real Counties should be the focus of where we live and be our link with history. Administrative areas are for providing services and their boundaries should be set out to suit the best way of delivering them.

Where would cricket be without our real Counties?


Chris Black said...

I'm not yet convinced that unitaries are the answers to every problem....

But it's good to find someone else in favour of using the old counties for cultural/ heritage/ postal purposes.....

Chris & Glynis Abbott said...

Fair comment Chris but I certainly believe that our area has benefited from being a unitary, particularly in terms of capital investment in towns like Redcar. Under the dreaded former Cleveland County Council all the capital investment went into Middlesbrough and Stockton, where the majority of the majority came from.