Draft 'Counties Bill'
14 October, 2019
Draft ‘Counties Bill’ sent to Communities and Local Government Ministry
Our partners, the British Counties Campaign (BCC), have drafted a ‘Counties Bill’ which they hope will gain the approval of Parliament and Royal Assent to provide full recognition and protection of the UK’s Traditional Counties.
Unlike Local Government Areas (administrative counties) and Lieutenancies (ceremonial counties) whose boundaries can be changed any time at the whim of bureaucrats, Traditional Counties are the real counties whose boundaries are set in stone by the more than one thousand years of heritage and identity they represent. They are the UK’s counties that were widely recognised as such prior to the Local Government Act 1972. Despite the confusion caused by administrative and ceremonial boundary changes, Traditional Counties, such as Yorkshire, still very much exist today.
The draft Counties Bill was sent in a letter to Jake Berry of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. This is the Ministry that recently issued new Government Guidance to Local Authorities on measures they can take to recognise, protect and promote the Traditional Counties within their area of administration. One would therefore be forgiven for presuming that proposing a Bill aimed at achieving exactly those goals would be like pushing against an open door.
In the letter, the BCC offered the Minister the service of surveying every Local authority in Great Britain to establish the extent to which the Government’s Guidance is being followed by them. This falls in nicely with our own campaign, launched on Yorkshire Day this year, where we are surveying the local authorities all around the boundary of Yorkshire for that very purpose. The BCC allude to our Yorkshire Boundaries Campaign in their letter and we shall contribute our findings to their nationwide results as they are collated.
The letter reads:
To Jake Berry, minister of state at Cabinet Office & ministry of housing, communities and local government
Letter email sent through the office of Henry Smith (our champion MP)
Further to our meeting earlier in March, and subsequent publication of your much-welcome guidance for local councils in England in promoting traditional counties (attached), can we please offer our services to your departments to survey all councils in England, Scotland and Wales to review what steps they are making to promote the counties? While the guidance is aimed initially at England, we believe it is crucial to survey what steps are being taken in Scotland and Wales, where county confusion also remains. (I attach our draft bill for more information on this background.)
We believe it is imperative to assess how councils are actually implementing your guidance, and time is of the essence, otherwise county identity will be lost and young people in particular will have no idea of the strong cultural and commercial vibrancy counties can foster, which we know you accept. In due course, we believe it should become compulsory for councils to promote the counties in the ways you suggest.
We know some of our supporters have also started to make independent efforts to survey councils, but we believe a co-ordinated approach will be the most effective way to move things forward. We look forward to hearing back, and are happy to meet or detail further how we would wish to proceed.
In anticipation of a positive response, and with best regards
Gerard Dugdill, Campaign Manager, British Counties Campaign
You can find out more about the British Counties Campaign at: https://britishcounties.org/
And can sign a petition in support of their campaign at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/call-for-our-counties-names-to-be-put-back-to-original-stateBack
To Dan: There have to be administrative areas but we say, certainly in Yorkshire's case, that they should respect heritage and identity and not cross traditional county boundaries. Doing so has contributed much to the confusion over counties that this campaign aims to end.
'Dan Walker' said on 15 October, 2019
Long live the true counties of the UK, and to hell with nonsense administrative areas.