London boroughs

London borough
Greater London within England
The thirty-two London boroughs in England
Category Local authority districts
Location Greater London
Created by London Government Act 1963
Created 1 April 1965
Number 32 (as of 2013)
Possible types Inner London (12)
Outer London (20)
Possible status City (1)
Royal borough (3)
Populations 150,000–300,000
Areas 15–150 km2
Government London borough council

The London boroughs are 32 of the 33 local authority districts of the Greater London administrative area (the 33rd is the City of London) and are each governed by a London borough council. The London boroughs were all created at the same time as Greater London on 1 April 1965 by the London Government Act 1963 and are a type of local government district. Twelve were designated as Inner London boroughs and twenty as Outer London boroughs.

The London boroughs have populations of around 150,000 to 300,000. Inner London boroughs tend to be smaller, in both population and area, and more densely populated than Outer London boroughs. The London boroughs were created by combining groups of former local government units. A review undertaken between 1987 and 1992 led to a number of relatively small alterations in borough boundaries.

London borough councils provide the majority of local government services, in contrast to the strategic Greater London Authority, which has limited authority over all of Greater London. The councils were first elected in 1964 and acted as shadow authorities until 1 April 1965. Each borough is divided into electoral wards, subject to periodic review, for the purpose of electing councillors. Council elections take place every four years, with the most recent elections in 2014 and the next elections due in 2018.

The political make-up of London borough councils is dominated by the Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat parties. Twenty-eight councils follow the leader and cabinet model of executive governance, with directly elected mayors in Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets. The City of London is instead governed by the City of London Corporation and the Inner and Middle Temples.



From the mid-1930s, the Greater London area comprised four types of local government authorities. There were county boroughs, municipal boroughs, urban districts and metropolitan boroughs. The large county boroughs provided all local government services and held the powers usually invested in county councils. The municipal borough and urban district authorities had fewer powers. The situation was made more complex because county councils could delegate functions such as elementary education and library provision to the municipal borough and district councils, and this was implemented piecemeal. Reform of London local government sought to regularise this arrangement.

The Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London was established in 1957 and the report was published on 19 October 1960. It proposed 52 "Greater London Boroughs" with a population range of 100,000 to 250,000. [1] This was made up of a mixture of whole existing units, mergers of two or three areas, and two boroughs formed as the result of a split. In December 1961 the government proposed that there would be 34 boroughs rather than 52, and detailed their boundaries. The proposed number was further reduced to 32 in 1962.

On 1 April 1965, the 32 London boroughs and Greater London were created by the London Government Act 1963. Twelve boroughs in the former County of London area were designated Inner London boroughs and the twenty others were designated Outer London boroughs. Outer London borough councils were local education authorities, but Inner London borough councils were so designated primarily to continue the existence of an Inner London Education Authority, praised by official Opposition and government who further noted that unusually the former County of London's many small local authorities had no history of providing education. The City of London continued to be administered by the City of London Corporation and the Inner and Middle Temples. [notes 1]

Elections were held on 7 May 1964, with the new councils acting as shadow authorities before coming into their powers the following year.

Former authorities

The boroughs were created as follows. Some relatively minor changes have been made to the boundaries of boroughs since 1965, and two have changed their names.

Former local authorities in the Greater London area
London borough Designation Former areas
Camden Inner Hampstead (11a) St Pancras (11b) Holborn (11c)
Greenwich Inner Greenwich (22a) Woolwich (part) (22b)
Hackney Inner Hackney (9a) Shoreditch (9b) Stoke Newington (9c)
Hammersmith [notes 2] Inner Hammersmith (4a) Fulham (4b)
Islington Inner Islington (10a) Finsbury (10b)
Kensington and Chelsea Inner Kensington (3a) Chelsea (3b)
Lambeth Inner Lambeth (6a) Wandsworth (part) (6b)
Lewisham Inner Lewisham (21a) Deptford (21b)
Southwark Inner Bermondsey (7b) Camberwell (7c) Southwark (7a)
Tower Hamlets Inner Bethnal Green (8a) Poplar (8c) Stepney (8b)
Wandsworth Inner Battersea (5b) Wandsworth (part) (5a)
Westminster Inner Paddington (2c) St Marylebone (2b) Westminster (2a)
Barking [notes 3] Outer Barking (part) (25a) Dagenham (part) (25b)
Barnet Outer Barnet (31a) East Barnet (31b) Finchley (31d) Hendon (31c) Friern Barnet (31e)
Bexley Outer Bexley (23b) Erith (23a) Crayford (23c) Chislehurst and Sidcup (part) (23d)
Brent Outer Wembley (12a) Willesden (12b)
Bromley Outer Bromley (20c) Beckenham (20b) Orpington (20e) Penge (20a) Chislehurst and Sidcup (part) (20d)
Croydon Outer Croydon (19a) Coulsdon and Purley (19b)
Ealing Outer Acton (13b) Ealing (13a) Southall (13c)
Enfield Outer Edmonton (30c) Enfield (30a) Southgate (30b)
Haringey Outer Hornsey (29b) Tottenham (29c) Wood Green (29a)
Harrow Outer Harrow (32)
Havering Outer Romford (24a) Hornchurch (24b)
Hillingdon Outer Hayes and Harlington (33c) Ruislip Northwood (33b) Uxbridge (33a) Yiewsley and West Drayton (33d)
Hounslow Outer Brentford and Chiswick (14c) Feltham (14a) Heston and Isleworth (14b)
Kingston upon Thames Outer Kingston upon Thames (16a) Malden and Coombe (16b) Surbiton (16c)
Merton Outer Mitcham (17c) Merton and Morden (17b) Wimbledon (17a)
Newham Outer West Ham (27a) East Ham (27b) Barking (part) (27c) Woolwich (part) (27d)
Redbridge Outer Ilford (26a) Wanstead and Woodford (26b) Dagenham (part) (26c) Chigwell (part) (26d)
Richmond upon Thames Outer Barnes (15a) Richmond (15b) Twickenham (15c)
Sutton Outer Beddington (18c) Carshalton (18b) Sutton and Cheam (18a)
Waltham Forest Outer Chingford (28a) Leyton (28c) Walthamstow (28b)

Greater London Council

Between 1965 and 1986 the boroughs were part of a two-tier system of government and shared power with the Greater London Council (GLC). The split of powers and functions meant that the Greater London Council was responsible for "wide area" services such as fire, ambulance, flood prevention, and refuse disposal; with the London borough councils responsible for "personal" services such as social care, libraries, cemeteries and refuse collection. Several London borough councils and the GLC were involved in the rate-capping rebellion of 1985. On 1 April 1986 the GLC was abolished and the borough councils gained responsibility for some services that had been provided by the Greater London Council, such as waste disposal. The Inner London Education Authority continued to exist as an ad hoc authority. In 1990 it was abolished and the Inner London borough councils also became local education authorities.

Name and boundary changes

The Local Government Act 1972 provided a mechanism for the name of a London borough and its council to be changed. This was used by the London Borough of Hammersmith (changed to Hammersmith and Fulham) on 1 April 1979 and the London Borough of Barking (changed to Barking and Dagenham) on 1 January 1980. Borough names formed by combining two locality names had been discouraged when the boroughs were created.

The London boroughs were created by combining whole existing units of local government and it was realised that this might provide arbitrary boundaries in some places. The London Government Act 1963 provided a mechanism for communities on the edge of Greater London to petition for transfer from London boroughs to a neighbouring county district. [2] This was used in 1969 in the transfers of Knockholt in Bromley to Kent, and of Farleigh and Hooley in Croydon to Surrey. The Act also provided for transfers between London boroughs and neighbouring counties where there was consensus for the change between all the relevant local authorities. This provision was used to exchange two islands on the River Thames between Richmond upon Thames and Surrey. (See List of Greater London boundary changes.)

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England was established by the Local Government Act 1972 to review periodically the boundaries of Greater London and the London boroughs. The first review of boundaries commenced on 1 April 1987 and reported in 1992. [3] Following the review a series of relatively minor adjustments were made to borough boundaries, for example uniting the whole of the Becontree estate in Barking and Dagenham. The commission noted that many of its recommendations were strongly opposed and were not implemented. The boundary of the City of London with adjacent boroughs was adjusted to remove some anomalies. [4]

In the London boroughs the legal entity is not the council as elsewhere in the country, but the inhabitants incorporated as a legal entity by royal charter (a process abolished elsewhere in England and Wales under the Local Government Act 1972). Thus, a London authority's official legal title is "The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of X" (or "The Lord Mayor and Citizens of the City of Westminster").

Greater London Authority

In 2000 the Greater London Authority was created, comprising the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. As a strategic authority, it absorbed only limited powers, such as major highways and planning strategy, from the borough councils.

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