No, but we do wish to see reforms to certain parts of local government terminology.

Most urgently, we are seeking the replacement of the word “county” as a description of a top tier local government area within the Local Government Act 1972. At the very least these areas should be re-labelled “administrative counties” (as were their pre 1974 forbears) to make it clear that these are not replacement for the traditional Counties but, simply, administrative areas, defined for a narrow administrative purpose and not intended to have any wider geographical or cultural significance.

Of course, ABC is not opposed to the use of the historic County areas as a basis for local government areas. Local government areas could still reflect historic identities where possible and could still use the County names where appropriate (with further geographical qualifications in many cases). However, they should not masquerade as the Counties themselves. In this way the desire of many people for cultural identity to be expressed in administrative areas can be maintained in many places whilst in areas where is it wholly impractical (e.g. in large conurbations) traditional identities and loyalties can still be maintained even though local government areas may cross traditional County borders.

For example, under our suggestions, the geographical and cultural identity of the County of Somerset would be maintained and enhanced by its having a lord lieutenant, by having its borders marked by road signs, by its borders being marked on Ordnance Survey and other maps. The present local government set up could continue with the County more or less being served by two unitary authorities (North Somerset District Council, Bath and North East Somerset District Council) and by one two tier authority (presently named Somerset County Council). However, ABC would advocate renaming the area of this last authority “Southern Somerset” (a fairly geographically accurate description of the area it serves). Local government would still be based within the County area and could draw support from its link with the County, but local government would not be seen to be actually defining the County.

As a radically different example, local government in the west midlands conurbation is provided by unitary authorities which cross traditional County borders.  Nonetheless, the traditional County identities of places within the conurbation could be fostered by the methods we advocate without need for local government reorganisation. These authorities are called “District”, “Borough” or “City” councils and do not borrow the name of any County.

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