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Where do you draw the line? Local administrative boundaries in England

Published Monday, July 15, 2019

A review of policy and practice influencing the creation and change of local government and other local administrative boundaries in England.

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This report addresses current and previous practice in England in the construction of the geographical boundaries of local authorities and local administrative areas.

The report sets out the history of local authority boundary changes in England, and the criteria that have shaped them. It also describes the origin and uses of ‘functional economic areas’, which have had a peripheral impact on English administrative boundaries. It then describes ‘place-shaping’, and sets out a number of criteria that contribute to conceptions of where ‘places’ are and how their boundaries should be determined. Finally, it identifies points in recent debates on the governance of England where the question of administrative boundaries arises.

This issue has been an underlying concern in a number of current policy debates in England during the 2010s. These include the Government’s policies of ‘devolution deals’ and promotion of local economic growth via Local Industrial Strategies. More perennial concerns, to join up the commissioning and delivery of public services at a local level and to increase the quality of local accountability, have also generated some references to the question of boundaries.


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