City of Wakefield

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This article discusses the metropolitan district named the City of Wakefield. For information on the city itself, see Wakefield, the district's principal settlement, from which it takes its name.
City of Wakefield
Status:Metropolitan borough, City (1888)
Region:Yorkshire and the Humber
Ceremonial County:West Yorkshire
- Total
Ranked 143rd
338.61 km²
Admin. HQ:Wakefield
ONS code:00DB
- Total (2005 est.)
- Density
Ranked 12th
947 / km²
Ethnicity:97.7% White
1.4% S.Asian
Image:Coat of arms of Wakefield (district).jpg

Coat of arms of Wakefield MDC

Leadership:Leader & Cabinet
MPs:Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh, Jon Trickett

City of Wakefield is a metropolitan district of West Yorkshire, England. In addition to the city of Wakefield, the district covers a wide area including several other towns. The "Five Towns" commonly grouped together are Normanton, Pontefract, Featherstone, Castleford and Knottingley. Other towns include Ossett, Hemsworth, South Kirkby & Moorthorpe and South Elmsall. It is lies between Leeds and Sheffield.

As recently as 2001, the Labour Party held more seats here than anywhere else in the country, but there has been a large swing against Labour in recent years; it only won 13 out of 21 seats in 2006. The district is mainly made out of old coal-mining towns, although other industries include wool, chemicals, machine tools, glass [Castleford] and other forms of manufacturing. Horbury is something of an anomaly in having had a large steel works. When Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, there were 21 pits in the district. When the strike began in 1984, there were 15. No other district in the country had anything like as many collieries. At the time of privatisation in November 1994, only two remained: "Prince of Wales" at Pontefract closed in 2002 and "Kellingley" at Knottingley is now the sole remainder of the industry that dominated the district. Most of the district's pits had been very hardline during the strike.

In recent years, the economic and physical condition of several of the former mining towns and villages in Wakefield District have started to improve due to the booming economy of Leeds - and an increase in numbers of commuters to the city from the sub-region - and a recognition of undeveloped assets. For instance Castleford, to the North East of Wakefield is seeing extensive development and investment because of the natural asset of its outlook on to the River Aire, its easy access to the national motorway network and the availability of former mining land for house-building. In Ossett, house prices have risen from an average of £50,000 in 1998 to £130,000 in 2003.

The district has only small proportion of ethnic minorities, and most of the settlements outside of the town of Wakefield are almost entirely White. Crime is generally lower in this district than in the rest of West Yorkshire. Although unemployment was amongst the highest in the country for most of the 1980s and 1990s, Wakefield District now has below-average unemployment. The "Wakefield East" ward had 4.7% unemployment in May 2005 (source: Office for National Statistics) - which was more than 1% higher than any other ward. The eastern half of the district remains considerably less prosperous than the western half, with several deprived wards. Other problems typical of such an area include rates of suicide that are consistently amongst the highest in the country and a heroin problem that saw addiction rise by an incredible 3361% between 2000 and 2004.

A decision was made, in 2004, to sell the district's extensive council housing to Wakefield District Housing, an 'independent' housing association, who would be more efficient with repairs and maintaining decent accommodation; as council housing represented almost 30% of the district, this was the second-largest stock transfer in British history. The new owners have indicated that they plan to demolish most of their new stock in Fitzwilliam and some in Hemsworth, which has become very run-down.

Image:County Hall (1898), Wood Street, Wakefield.jpg
The City of Wakefield MDC's Queen Anne style administrative HQ, County Hall (1898), Wakefield

The present boundaries were set in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, when the county borough of Wakefield merged with the West Riding municipal boroughs of Castleford, Ossett and Pontefract, the urban districts of Featherstone, Hemsworth, Horbury, Knottingley, Normanton and Stanley, along with Wakefield Rural District and parts of Hemsworth Rural District and Osgoldcross Rural District.

[edit] 2006 Local government election

The district is divided into 21 wards and each is represented on the district council by three councillors. Each councillor is elected on a first past the post basis, normally for a four-year period which is staggered with the other councillors of that ward so that only one councillor per ward is up for election at any one time. Exceptions to this include by-elections and ward boundary changes.

The table below summarises the results of the 2006 local government election. Each party is ordered by number of votes registered.

[discuss] – [edit]
Summary of the May 2006 City of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council election results
Seats Gains Losses Net
Seats % Votes % Votes +/-
Labour 4102-265.141.732,765
Conservative 1430+322.229.122,832
British National 0000010.78,426
Liberal Democrats 30004.89.47,375
Independent 501-17.97.65,962
Green 000001.1861
Socialist Alternative 000000.3231
UK Independence 000000.2128
Total63 78,580
Districts of Yorkshire and the Humber Image:Yorkshire rose.svg
Barnsley | Bradford | Calderdale | Craven | Doncaster | East Riding of Yorkshire | Hambleton | Harrogate | Hull | Kirklees | Leeds | North Lincolnshire | North East Lincolnshire | Richmondshire | Rotherham | Ryedale | Scarborough | Selby | Sheffield | Wakefield | York
Counties with multiple districts: North Yorkshire - South Yorkshire - West Yorkshire

Places with City status in England
Image:Flag of England.svg
Bath | Birmingham | Bradford | Brighton & Hove | Bristol | Cambridge | Canterbury | Carlisle | Chester | Chichester | Coventry | Derby | Durham | Ely | Exeter | Gloucester | Hereford | Kingston upon Hull | Lancaster | Leeds | Leicester | Lichfield | Lincoln | Liverpool | London (City of London and Westminster) | Manchester | Newcastle upon Tyne | Norwich | Nottingham | Oxford | Peterborough | Plymouth | Portsmouth | Preston | Ripon | Saint Albans | Salford | Salisbury | Sheffield | Southampton | Stoke-on-Trent | Sunderland | Truro | Wakefield | Wells | Winchester | Wolverhampton | Worcester | York
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City of Wakefield

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