The abolition of the historic counties

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Matt Black, Oct 2, 2005.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    I'm talking about counties of England here, but I want to draw a parallel with the US too.

    The English counties existed for a thousand years as the tier of government administration and latterly representation immediately below the national government and Parliament at Westminster, with their boundaries largely unchanged for hundreds of years. Then in 1974, Parliament decided to fiddle around with this tried and tested system, the rationale largely being demographic change and the development of conurbations. For instance:-

    Yorkshire was divided into North, South and West Yorkshire because South Yorkshire based around Sheffield and West Yorkshire around Leeds were large urban entities in their own right.

    On the same rationale, Tyne and Wear (around Newcastle) was created out of parts of Northumberland and Durham, Teeside (Middlesborough and Stockton) carved out of parts of Durham and Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside (Liverpool-Birkenhead) from bits of Lancashire and Cheshire, West Midlands (Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton amalgamating) from parts of Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire and Avon (Bristol and Bath) out of bits of southern Gloucestershire and northern Somerset.

    The remainder of Worcestershire was then amalgamated with Herefordshire as 'Hereford and Worcester', on the grounds that neither single entity had a viable population on its own; Rutland was abloished and swallowed up by Leicestershire for similar reasons.

    Bournemouth was transferred from Hampshire to Dorset, Berkshire lost the upper Thames Valley to Oxforshire but was 'compensated' by the transfer of Slough and Eton from Buckinghamshire.

    Oh, and Greater London extended its reach further into Essex, Kent and Surrey, absorbing nearly all of Middlesex with the remainder of Middlesex being given to Surrey (Staines) and Hertfordshire (Potters Bar).

    (I won't tell you what they did in Scotland and Wales - that was even worse)

    Now, imagine if the equivalent had happened in the US. Imagine if Congress had passed an Act which had the effect of the following (put to one side the consitutionality of the move, just consider your emotional response):-

    A new state of New York City is created mainly out of New York State but also embracing Paterson and Newark, NJ. The remainder of New York state is renamed Upper New York state (or worse still 'Hudson')

    The Kansas state line is moved east to encompass Kansas City, MO; Missouri is 'compensated' by having East St Louis added.

    Chicago, Milwaukee and Gary are hived off from their parent states as the new state of Lakeside.

    The District of Columbia is expanded to include Arlington and Baltimore; the 'rump' of Maryland is then merged with Delaware which is abolished as it serves no useful purpose.

    Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are merged as neither has a suffucient population on its own to survive; the new state is called 'Montana, Idaho and Wyoming'. Utah and Nevada - ditto.

    Connecticut is split in two; the western half keeping the old name and the eastern half being called New Haven state.

    San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley are amalgamated as the new state of Bayside; LA and the Valley are similarly merged as South California.

    How would y'll feel?
     
  2. Salty

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    Matt, I am from Upstate NY, and would love to see NY City become its own state. The City has 50% of the population, but only 0.006% of the land area.

    I understand your concern how the divisions were made in the UK, but here it would take the approval of the individual involved states and Congress as well.

    By the way, can you hire a good lawyer and see if you could reverse that decision.
     
  3. NaasPreacher (C4K)

    NaasPreacher (C4K)
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    Alabama has 4 million and 7 reps ;) .
     
  4. Matt Black

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    The decision was partially reversed 20 years or so later, eg: with Avon being abolished, but without its constituent parts being restored to the counties from which they had been taken - Bristol itself just became a city/ county in its own right (not a bad thing IMO; one of the reasons Avon was created was that people in Bristol (pop 400,000) had been prior to 1974 part of Gloucestershire and were fed up with having to send their reps to and being ruled by Gloucester (pop 93,000)), but it's hinterland was turned into the new county of South Gloucestershire whereas the area around Bath became the county of North-East Somerset (a bad thing - neither great centres of population so why not restore them to Gloucestershire and Somerset?); Rutland was resurrected which was also a Good Thing.

    But it also got crazier in 1994: Portsmouth and Southampton were nicked from Hampshire (this is where I live so it's a sore point) and created counties; Brighton was detached from Sussex and became Brighton and Hove, and there were similar muckings about all over the country.

    The only other good thing was that Northern Ireland six counties were restored.
     
  5. Matt Black

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  6. Bro. James Reed

    Bro. James Reed
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    It wouldn't bother me one bit because I live in Texas. :D
     
  7. Matt Black

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    So why isn't that sort of reorganisation done in the US occasionally?
     
  8. Bro. James

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    It has been: Circa 1861-64, U.S. Civil War. See also: carpetbaggers.

    Bro. James
     
  9. Matt Black

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    Yes, but no state boundary was actually changed, apart from the carving out of West Virginia. What about changes to reflect massive demographic alterations - which is ostensibly the reason given for our boundary changes?
     
  10. Bro. James

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    Electoral College?

    Bro. James
     
  11. Matt Black

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    Granted - but that only applies to Presidential elections. What about the issue of identity and day-to-day government at state level? Do the folks of Kansas City, MO, feel more affinity with their neighbours in the city of the same name across the Missouri and thus with the state of Kansas than they do with the rest of MO (similarly East St Louis, the Mississippi and Missouri) - and should the state boundaries be moved to reflect that? Do the citizens of Paterson and Newark consider themselves part of Greater New York, and should they therefore be ruled/ run from NYC as a state in its own right?
     
  12. Bro. James

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    The body politic in the colonies has very few similarities to those of the Crown.

    We have become so polarized about "freedoms" that we have become oblivious to the special interest groups which are quite successful at forming the policy at all levels of our government. These groups also keep the legislatures in semi-permanent gridlock.

    Occasionally the incumbents are replaced; but the special interest lobbyists seem to increase.

    There have been many changes in demographics and tax base. Many of us want the "government" to do everything for us--without much funding. Medical care has gone out of the control of even the Federal Govt.--not that medical costs could be controlled with unlimited funds.

    All levels of govt. just re-proved that we are not able to respond responsibly in an emergency--the USCG being an exception--the wonders of bureaucracy

    Having a town meeting and passing the hat still works in some places--regardless of the political boundaries--parishes and wards in my state of Louisiana--still languishing under the Napoleonic Code--also some Papal Bull.

    Millions of dollars have flowed in from individuals for hurricane relief--more is needed.

    I am rambling,Bye,

    Bro. James
     

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