A unitary authority is a type of local authority that has a single tier and is responsible for all local government functions within its area or performs additional functions which elsewhere in the relevant country are usually performed by national government or a higher level of sub-national government. Typically unitary authorities cover towns or cities which are large enough to function independently of county or other regional administration. Sometimes they consist of national sub-divisions which are distinguished from others in the same country by having no lower level of administration.


1 Canada 2 Central Europe 3 Denmark 4 New Zealand 5 Poland 6 United Kingdom

6.1 England 6.2 Northern Ireland 6.3 Scotland 6.4 Wales

7 United States 8 See also 9 References

Canada[edit] In Canada, each province creates its own system of local government, so terminology varies substantially. In certain provinces (e.g. Alberta, Nova Scotia) there is only one level of local government in that province, so no special term is used to describe the situation. British Columbia
British Columbia
has only one such municipality, Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, which was established in 2009.[1] In Ontario
the term single-tier municipalities is used, for a similar concept. Their character varies, and while most function as cities with no upper level of government, some function as counties or regional municipalities with no lower municipal subdivisions below them. They exist as individual census divisions, as well as separated municipalities. Central Europe[edit] In Germany, kreisfreie Stadt (literally circle-free city) is the equivalent term for a city with the competences of both the Gemeinde (municipality) and the Kreis (district, literally circle) administrative level. The directly elected chief executive officer of a kreisfreie Stadt is called Oberbürgermeister (literally Superior Burgomaster, in English "Chief Mayor" or "Lord Mayor"). The British counties have no directly corresponding counterpart in Germany. This German system corresponds to statutory cities in Austria and in the Czech Republic. Denmark[edit] Until 1 January 2007, the municipalities of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg and Bornholm were not a part of a Danish county. New Zealand[edit] In New Zealand, a unitary authority is a territorial authority (district or city) that also performs the functions of a regional council (first-level division). There are five unitary authorities; they are (with the year they were constituted): Gisborne District Council (1989), Nelson City
Council (1992), Tasman District Council (1992), Marlborough District Council
Marlborough District Council
(1992), and Auckland Council (2010).[2][3] The Chatham Islands, located east of the South Island, have a council with its own special legislation, constituted (1995) with powers similar to those of a regional authority.[4][5] Poland[edit] Main article: City
with powiat rights In Poland, a miasto na prawach powiatu, or shortly powiat grodzki (city with powiat rights, or urban county in short) is a, typically big, city which is also responsible for district (poviat) administrative level, being part of no other powiat (e.g. Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań). In total, 65 cities in Poland
have this status. United Kingdom[edit]

Bournemouth: Unitary Authority tree. The tree on the left, on the concourse of the Bournemouth
Hall, was planted on 1 April 1997 to mark the occasion of Bournemouth
council becoming a unitary authority on that day. This was part of the Local Government Reorganisation of the late 1990s, when certain more urban districts were essentially separated from the relevant county council, with now no services for Bournemouth
residents carried out by Dorset County

In the United Kingdom, "unitary authorities" are English local authorities set up in accordance with the Local Government Changes for England Regulations 1994 made under powers conferred by the Local Government Act 1992 to form a single tier of local government in specified areas and which are responsible for almost all local government functions within such areas. While outwardly appearing to be similar, single-tier authorities formed using older legislation are not Unitary Authorities thus excluding e.g. the Isle of Wight Council or any other single-tier authority formed under the Local Government Act 1972 or older legislation. This is distinct from the two-tier system of local government which still exists in most of England, where local government functions are divided between county councils (the upper tier) and district or borough councils. Until 1996 two-tier systems existed in Scotland
and Wales, but these have now been replaced by systems based on a single-tier of local government with some functions shared between groups of adjacent authorities. A single-tier system has existed in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
since 1973. For many years the description of the number of tiers in UK local government arrangements has routinely ignored any current or previous bodies at the lowest level of authorities elected by the voters within their area such as parish (in England and Wales) or community councils; such bodies do not exist or have not existed in all areas. England[edit] Main article: Unitary authorities of England Northern Ireland[edit]

Districts of Northern Ireland

Main article: Local government
Local government
in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
is divided into 11 districts for local government purposes. In Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
local councils have no responsibility for education, road building or housing (though they do nominate members to the advisory Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Housing Council). Their functions include waste and recycling services, leisure and community services, building control and local economic and cultural development. They are not planning authorities, but are consulted on some planning applications. The collection of rates is handled by the Land and Property Services
Land and Property Services

Category: Subdivisions of Northern Ireland

Scotland[edit] Local authorities in Scotland
are unitary in nature but not in name. The Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994
Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994
created a single tier of local government throughout Scotland. On 1 April 1996, 32 local government areas, each with a council, replaced the previous two-tier structure, which had regional, islands and district councils. Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
(formerly the Western Isles Council) uses the alternative Gaelic designation Comhairle. The phrase "unitary authority" is not used in Scottish legislation (whether from the Scottish Parliament or the UK Parliament), although the term is encountered (used either descriptively or erroneously) in publications[6] and in (usually erroneous) use by United Kingdom government departments.[7] Wales[edit] Local authorities in Wales
are unitary in nature but are described by the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994
Local Government (Wales) Act 1994
as "principal councils", and their areas as principal areas.[8] Various other legislation (e.g. s.91(1) Environment Act 1995) includes the counties and county boroughs of Wales
within their individual interpretations of the phrase "unitary authority" as an interpretive not a definitive description. In s.2 of the Act each council formed for a county is allocated the respective English and Welsh descriptions of "County Council" or "Cyngor Sir", each council formed for a County
Borough is allocated the respective descriptions of " County
Borough Council" or "Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol"; in all cases the shorter alternative forms "Council" or "Cyngor" can be used. Similar to the civil parishes in England, the lowest tier of local government in Wales
are the communities. All of the principal councils are fully divided into communities, but not all such communities have established community councils. United States[edit] There are several types of single-tier governments in the United States. In the states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and much of Massachusetts, county government has been abolished, and the municipalities (known as New England towns) are the only governing tier below the state government, though the former counties still exist in the ceremonial sense. In some areas, the reverse is true; for example, Howard County, Maryland
Howard County, Maryland
and Arlington County, Virginia
Arlington County, Virginia
are examples of counties that, despite being densely developed, have no municipalities and are thus the only tier of general-purpose local government. In Virginia, all municipalities with city status are, by definition, independent from any county. Three other cities across the United States are also independent of any county government: Baltimore, Maryland, St. Louis, Missouri, and Carson City, Nevada. There are also several consolidated cities where the county government and municipal government are unified. San Francisco
San Francisco
and Philadelphia
are two examples, wherein the city and county are coterminous and have one singular governing body. See also[edit]

Unitary state


^ "Fort Nelson becomes B.C.'s first Regional Municipality". Brent Hodson. February 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-27.  ^ "2013 Census definitions and forms: U". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 30 April 2014.  ^ "Glossary". Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 30 April 2014.  ^ " Chatham Islands
Chatham Islands
Council Act 1995 No 41 (as at 01 July 2013), Public Act Contents – New Zealand Legislation". Parliamentary Counsel Office. Retrieved 5 February 2017.  ^ "Minutes of the Statutory Meeting of the Chatham Islands
Chatham Islands
Council" (PDF). Chatham Islands
Chatham Islands
Council. October 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 January 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2017.  ^ "About Falkirk Council". Falkirk Council. Retrieved 22 February 2009.  ^ "Local Councils in Scotland". DirectGov. Retrieved 22 February 2009.  ^ "Local Government (Wales) Act 1994". Retrieved 16 Sep