Districts of England
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The districts of England are a level of subnational division of England used for the purposes of local government. As the structure of local government in England is not uniform, there are currently four types of district level subdivision.
All Boroughs and Cities, and a very few Districts, are led by a Mayor who in most cases is a ceremonial figure elected by the Council, but - after the most recent local government reform - is occasionally a directy elected mayor who takes most of the policy decisions instead of the Council.
The first local government districts were created in 1894 by the Local Government Act 1894 which created Urban districts and Rural districts as sub-divisions of Administrative counties (which had been created in 1889). Another reform in 1899 created 28 metropolitan boroughs as sub-divisions of the County of London.
In 1974, metropolitan counties and non-metropolitan counties (also known as 'shire counties') were created across the rest of England and were spilt into Metropolitan districts, and Non-metropolitan districts.
The status of the London boroughs and metropolitan districts changed in 1986, when they absorbed the functions and some of the powers of the metropolitan county councils and the Greater London Council which were abolished. In London power is now shared again, albeit on a different basis, with the Greater London Authority.
There are 36 metropolitan districts, 32 London boroughs, 284 non-metropolitan districts (if the Isle of Wight is counted as a district), the Isles of Scilly, and the City of London, making a total of 354 district-level authorities.
 Metropolitan districts
Metropolitan districts (or metropolitan boroughs) are a subdivision of a metropolitan county. These are similar to unitary authorities, as the metropolitan county councils were abolished in 1986. Most of the powers of the county councils were devolved to the districts but some services are run jointly by joint boards and organisations. The districts typically have populations of 174,000 to 1.1 million.
 Non-metropolitan district (shire district)
Non-metropolitan districts (also known as shire districts) are second-tier authorities, which share power with county councils. They are subdivisions of shire counties and the most common type of district. The districts typically have populations of 25,000 to 200,000.
Where this two-tier system exists, the county councils are responsible for running some local services, such as education, social services, and roads. District councils run other services, such as waste collection, local planning, and council housing.
The number of non-metropolitan districts has varied over time. Initially there were 296; after mergers in the 1990s their numbers were reduced to 284.
 Unitary authorities
These are single-tier districts which have no second level of government, and are responsible for running all local services in their areas, combining both county and district functions. Unitary authorities often cover large towns and cities as this is deemed to be more efficient than a two-tier structure. In addition, in small English counties such as Rutland and Herefordshire, the county council is a unitary authority, and has no districts. An oddity is Berkshire, it is a non-metropolitan county made up entirly of several unitary authority districts.
 London boroughs
The London boroughs are sub-divisions of Greater London. They were established in 1965. Between 1965 and 1986 a two-tier structure of government existed in Greater London and the boroughs shared power with the Greater London Council (GLC). When the GLC was abolished in 1986 they gained similar status to the unitary authorities. In 2000 the Greater London Authority was established and a two-tier structure was restored, albeit with a change to the balance of powers and responsibilities.
- Cambridge is the only district to be entirely surrounded by another (South Cambridgeshire). There used to be three others - Bath was entirely surrounded by Wansdyke, Scunthorpe by Glanford and Hereford by South Herefordshire.
- Only one district, Stockton-on-Tees is split for ceremonial purposes
- Several non-unitary districts are comparable in size to counties. For example, Tynedale is larger than Nottinghamshire.
- The only district boundary that is not vertical is that between the City of London and the London Borough of Southwark. This is because the City today controls the full spans of London Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge, but only half of the river underneath them.
 See also