The Association of British Counties (ABC), a body which promotes the importance of the historic counties to the culture and heritage of the UK, is calling on local councillors to choose a new name for the Unitary Council which will shortly replace Durham County Council and the 7 district councils within its area.
ABC says that the name 'Durham County Council' or 'County Durham Council' would be inappropriate since the area of the new Unitary Council only covers about 2/3 of historic County Durham and actually excludes a large majority of the population of the historic County. The area of the new Unitary Council covers about 2/3 of historic County Durham but excludes a large majority of the population of the historic county. The Unitary Council will also serve a large area of Yorkshire.
ABC is proposing that a new name such as ‘Central County Durham & Teesdale Council’ or ‘Mid Durham & Teesdale Council’ would better reflect the communities served by the new Unitary Council.
Durham County Council and the 7 District Councils were created on 1st April 1974. The Government recently announced that these councils will be replaced by a single Unitary Council from April 2009.
The relationship of the new Unitary Council to the historic counties of Yorkshire and County Durham is illustrated below. The historic counties are shown as colour filled areas with black boundary lines. The new Unitary Council area is show by red boundary lines.
ABC’s Chairman, Dr. Peter Boyce said: "From our perspective, the unqualified name ‘Durham County Council’, adopted by the council in 1974, has always been inappropriate. Only 1/3 of County Durham folk are served by Durham County Council. The council’s area covers the middle of historic County Durham, but does not include large parts of the south-east and north-east of the county, including major towns and cities Sunderland, Darlington, Hartlepool, Gateshead, Stockton-on-Tees, South Shields and Washington. The creation of the Unitary Council is an opportunity to choose a name which better reflects the communities served by the Unitary Council."
Councillor Chris Abbott, Chairman of the Yorkshire Ridings Society, a member group of ABC, said: "About 1/5 of the area of the new Unitary Council lies in the historic North Riding of Yorkshire. Teesdale is often known as the most northerly of the Yorkshire Dales. The new Unitary Council should be proud to serve this beautiful part of Yorkshire. It should not adopt a name which denies the Yorkshire identity of this area."
Peter Boyce continued: "The historic counties are a key part of our cultural heritage and an important source of identity and affection to many people. Local authorities should not choose names which undermine historic county identities. The new Unitary Council can avoid this by choosing a name which reflects the fact that this council will serve the central part of historic County Durham and that part of Yorkshire in Teesdale. Possible names include 'Central County Durham & Teesdale Council' or 'Mid Durham & Teesdale Council'."
The Association of British Counties is a society which promotes the continuing importance of the historic counties to the culture, geography and heritage of the UK. ABC believes that the establishment of an identity for local government which is distinct from that of the historic counties would be to the advantage of both local government and the historic counties.