London boroughs, the
metropolitan boroughs and the
non-metropolitan districts (including most
unitary authorities) are divided into wards for local elections. However,
county council elections (as well as those for several unitary councils which were formerly county councils, such as the
Isle of Wight Council and
Shropshire Council) instead use the term electoral division. In
shire county areas with both wards (used for district council elections) and electoral divisions (used for county council elections), the boundaries of the two types of divisions may sometimes not coincide, but more often the county electoral divisions will be made up of one or more complete wards.
In urban areas the wards within a local authority area typically each contain roughly the same number of electors, and each elect three councillors. In local authorities with mixed urban and rural areas the number of councillors may vary from one to three depending on the size of the electorate. Where civil parishes exist, a ward can be coterminous with a civil parish or consist of groups of civil parishes. Larger civil parishes (such as
Shrewsbury) can be divided into two or more wards.
City of London
City of London has its own
sui generis form of local government, and is divided into wards, which are ancient and very long-standing sub-divisions of the City.
Isles of Scilly
Council of the Isles of Scilly, is also a sui generis unitary authority, has five wards, each returning either 2 or (in the case of St Mary's) 13 councillors to the Council of the Isles of Scilly.
Civil parishes in England are sometimes divided into wards for elections to the
parish council (or town/city council). They need not bear any relation to wards or electoral divisions at district level.
The four most northerly
ancient counties of England –
County Durham and
Northumberland – were historically divided into administrative units called wards instead of
wapentakes, as in other counties. Wards were areas originally organised for military purposes, each centred on a castle.