Missing County sign

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Tom Williams
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Missing County sign

Post by Tom Williams » Sun Oct 24, 2021 20:16

Hi all,

I was coming back from a family get-together in Yate earlier this evening, which required traveling along the scenic but bendy A466 from Chepstow as far as Wormelow. As we crossed into Herefordshire, I noticed that the "Herefordshire you can" sign was missing from it's two poles.

Now I have two questions regarding this, the first being: Are these signs required by law?
The second being: Why would the sign have been removed in the first place?

The only other giveaways of going into England are the Buckholt sign a few hunderd meters down the road, and the "Welcome to Monmouthshire" sign.

The location of the missing sign is here: https://www.google.com/maps/@51.8510057 ... 384!8i8192

Tom

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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Chris5156 » Sun Oct 24, 2021 20:23

Tom Williams wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 20:16
Now I have two questions regarding this, the first being: are these signs required by law?
No, it’s just for information. Many local authority and county boundaries are unmarked.
The second being: why would the sign have been removed in the first place?
Vandalism, theft for scrap value or struck by an errant vehicle would be three common reasons a sign might go missing. Another is that its fixings have rusted or broken and rather than being taken away it’s actually lying in the undergrowth at the foot of the poles. It’s possible it was removed because it was going to be replaced, but usually the removal and the installation of the replacement will be done by the same work crew on the same day.

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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Vierwielen » Sun Oct 24, 2021 21:40

Chris5156 wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 20:23
Tom Williams wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 20:16
Now I have two questions regarding this, the first being: are these signs required by law?
No, it’s just for information. Many local authority and county boundaries are unmarked.
The second being: why would the sign have been removed in the first place?
Vandalism, theft for scrap value or struck by an errant vehicle would be three common reasons a sign might go missing. Another is that its fixings have rusted or broken and rather than being taken away it’s actually lying in the undergrowth at the foot of the poles. It’s possible it was removed because it was going to be replaced, but usually the removal and the installation of the replacement will be done by the same work crew on the same day.
Another reason might be that a group called County Watch have removed the because they object to the post 1974-boundary changes.

Some years ago (c 2010), I saw a sign on the A316 marking the entrance to Middlesex, erected by somebody who failed to realise that Middlesex ceased to exist in 1965!

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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Steven » Sun Oct 24, 2021 22:25

Vierwielen wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 21:40
Another reason might be that a group called County Watch have removed the because they object to the post 1974-boundary changes.
That's not true, they object to local authorities having the same name as counties, but administering a different area. It's nothing in particular to do with 1974.
Some years ago (c 2010), I saw a sign on the A316 marking the entrance to Middlesex, erected by somebody who failed to realise that Middlesex ceased to exist in 1965!
This is again a complete falsehood. Middlesex County Council (the body created in 1888 that administered most of Middlesex) ceased to exist in 1965, not Middlesex itself.

It's also worth pointing out that boundary signage for a historic county is specifically allowed in TSRGD.
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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Glen » Sun Oct 24, 2021 22:44

Steven wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 22:25
This is again a complete falsehood. Middlesex County Council (the body created in 1888 that administered most of Middlesex) ceased to exist in 1965, not Middlesex itself.

It's also worth pointing out that boundary signage for a historic county is specifically allowed in TSRGD.
There should be a sign on the M9 at Polmont saying "Welcome to the Roman Empire"; surely it still exists, just not admiratively. 🤔

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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Steven » Mon Oct 25, 2021 07:33

Glen wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 22:44
Steven wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 22:25
This is again a complete falsehood. Middlesex County Council (the body created in 1888 that administered most of Middlesex) ceased to exist in 1965, not Middlesex itself.

It's also worth pointing out that boundary signage for a historic county is specifically allowed in TSRGD.
There should be a sign on the M9 at Polmont saying "Welcome to the Roman Empire"; surely it still exists, just not admiratively. 🤔
That's just being absurd for the sake of it.

People can surely cope with the concept of places continuing to exist when a newer similarly named local government area ceases to? Or do all the deniers claim that, say, Huddersfield no longer exists because nowhere of that name has appeared on an local government map since 1974? Or that Yorkshire itself just doesn't exist?

Perhaps the deniers would like to explain why the historic counties continued to appear in census reports beyond 1888 if they were "abolished" at this time? Or perhaps why parliamentary seats were based on historic counties well into the twentieth century?

It's like a line from Ghostbusters for the deniers - "there is no West Bromwich, only Sandwell"...
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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Vierwielen » Tue Oct 26, 2021 12:49

Steven wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 22:25
Vierwielen wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 21:40
Another reason might be that a group called County Watch have removed the because they object to the post 1974-boundary changes.
That's not true, they object to local authorities having the same name as counties, but administering a different area. It's nothing in particular to do with 1974.
Some years ago (c 2010), I saw a sign on the A316 marking the entrance to Middlesex, erected by somebody who failed to realise that Middlesex ceased to exist in 1965!
This is again a complete falsehood. Middlesex County Council (the body created in 1888 that administered most of Middlesex) ceased to exist in 1965, not Middlesex itself.

It's also worth pointing out that boundary signage for a historic county is specifically allowed in TSRGD.
Who would pay for a sign that says "Historic County of Middlesex"? I don't thnk that any of the local councils would do so.

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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Steven » Tue Oct 26, 2021 13:00

Vierwielen wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 12:49
Who would pay for a sign that says "Historic County of Middlesex"? I don't thnk that any of the local councils would do so.
You'd be surprised. There's plenty gone up, mostly around Yorkshire and Lancashire (probably not surprisingly), but they're far from the only ones.

In the other piece of county signage news recently where signage was put up in the wrong place, note the name of the county on the signage...
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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Isleworth1961 » Tue Oct 26, 2021 13:09

Vierwielen wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 12:49
Who would pay for a sign that says "Historic County of Middlesex"? I don't thnk that any of the local councils would do so.
There have been some Middlesex signs put up by at least two London Boroughs at their boundaries of the historic County of Middlesex. I believe Hillingdon has put some up, and at least another, and Hounslow have put one up at Kew Bridge.

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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Vierwielen » Tue Oct 26, 2021 21:43

Since people might use county boundary signs for all sorts of purposes, it should always be clear whether the sign in question marks a current boundary or a historic bouncary. Many years ago (before the mobile phone became common-place), I was looking for somebody's house. I knew that it was close to the county boundary so when I asked them for directions, I told them that I had an OS map and that they were to assume that I was on the Axxx road on the boundary between County Y and County Z facing into County Z from County Y. The instructions that they gave me were the simplest instructions I have ever had - it "We are the first house on the right".

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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Steven » Tue Oct 26, 2021 21:51

Vierwielen wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 21:43
Since people might use county boundary signs for all sorts of purposes, it should always be clear whether the sign in question marks a current boundary or a historic bouncary.
Which isn't an unreasonable ask. However, what is an unreasonable ask is the stupid mess that modern local government is - hence why the use of the word "county" in this context is unhelpful.

For example, there are three entirely different "modern" meanings of "County of Derby"/"Derbyshire". People get welcomed to Lancashire upon leaving Blackburn. And then there's the areas for which there is supposedly an administrative county but no administration takes place at that level at all, for example, so-called "Berkshire", which doesn't even include a huge chunk of the county.
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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Vierwielen » Tue Oct 26, 2021 21:57

Steven wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 21:51
Vierwielen wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 21:43
Since people might use county boundary signs for all sorts of purposes, it should always be clear whether the sign in question marks a current boundary or a historic bouncary.
Which isn't an unreasonable ask. However, what is an unreasonable ask is the stupid mess that modern local government is - hence why the use of the word "county" in this context is unhelpful.

For example, there are three entirely different "modern" meanings of "County of Derby"/"Derbyshire". People get welcomed to Lancashire upon leaving Blackburn. And then there's the areas for which there is supposedly an administrative county but no administration takes place at that level at all, for example, so-called "Berkshire", which doesn't even include a huge chunk of the county.
This is possibly where there is a case to use the ceremonial county. To me, places like Bracknell and Wokingham are town whereas Berkshire is a county. Possibly a case for two signs on a single pair of posts "Welcome to the Ceremonial County of Berkshire" and below it "Unitary Authority of Wokingham". Possibly, on the first sign, the text should span three lines with the words "Welcome to" and "Berkshire"on the first and third line in large lettes and the words "the Ceremonial County of" on the second line in small letters.

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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Steven » Tue Oct 26, 2021 22:06

Vierwielen wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 21:57

This is possibly where there is a case to use the ceremonial county.
Of course, there actually is no such thing as a "ceremonial county" - it's a Wikipedia invention. What there are are "Counties for the Purposes of Lieutenancy", which are intended solely for that purpose, which are combinations of Administrative Counties which may or may not have a county council. They also change boundaries regularly, and generally aren't where people think they are - for example, Yorkshire still doesn't exist with this idea; which is clearly insane. The former Metropolitan Counties which have been out of any functional existence now for nearly three times longer than they ever existed are also Counties for the Purposes of Lieutenancy; which is again completely insane.
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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Vierwielen » Tue Oct 26, 2021 22:25

Steven wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 22:06
Vierwielen wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 21:57

This is possibly where there is a case to use the ceremonial county.
Of course, there actually is no such thing as a "ceremonial county" - it's a Wikipedia invention. What there are are "Counties for the Purposes of Lieutenancy", which are intended solely for that purpose, which are combinations of Administrative Counties which may or may not have a county council. They also change boundaries regularly, and generally aren't where people think they are - for example, Yorkshire still doesn't exist with this idea; which is clearly insane. The former Metropolitan Counties which have been out of any functional existence now for nearly three times longer than they ever existed are also Counties for the Purposes of Lieutenancy; which is again completely insane.
Primary destinations are arranged by Ceremonial County in this document (Annex A). This document is a .gov.uk file, not a Wikipedia file.

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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Steven » Tue Oct 26, 2021 22:49

Vierwielen wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 22:25
Steven wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 22:06
Vierwielen wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 21:57

This is possibly where there is a case to use the ceremonial county.
Of course, there actually is no such thing as a "ceremonial county" - it's a Wikipedia invention. What there are are "Counties for the Purposes of Lieutenancy", which are intended solely for that purpose, which are combinations of Administrative Counties which may or may not have a county council. They also change boundaries regularly, and generally aren't where people think they are - for example, Yorkshire still doesn't exist with this idea; which is clearly insane. The former Metropolitan Counties which have been out of any functional existence now for nearly three times longer than they ever existed are also Counties for the Purposes of Lieutenancy; which is again completely insane.
Primary destinations are arranged by Ceremonial County in this document (Annex A). This document is a .gov.uk file, not a Wikipedia file.
I suggest that you go and read the actual Lieutenancies Act 1997, where the legal term is "County for the purposes of this Act" and so they only exist within the purposes of said Act. Nowhere in the Act does the phrase "ceremonial county" occur.


In addition, the document quoted was created in 2012, long after the first use on Wikipedia in 2004, hence the assertion that the term first appeared on Wikipedia is intact; and it is not the legal or correct name for them.
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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Chris Bertram » Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:51

Steven wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 22:06
... for example, Yorkshire still doesn't exist with this idea; which is clearly insane. The former Metropolitan Counties which have been out of any functional existence now for nearly three times longer than they ever existed are also Counties for the Purposes of Lieutenancy; which is again completely insane.
The "Ridings" of Yorkshire are of ancient standing; whether you consider them to be counties in their own right is up to you, but they became the basis for the administrative counties when they were set up. "Yorkshire" as a unit exists principally in two senses: (1) as a county for sporting representatation and organisation, most famously for Yorkshire CCC, and (2) as the nominal area of the Duke of York, whose title refers to the county rather than the city.

The Met Counties didn't actually disappear completely from functional existence, though the county councils were abolished and some powers distributed among the Met Boroughs. Policing, for instance, continued to be a county-level function with joint authorities overseeing it; now the PCCs for the forces are elected from areas coterminous with the "abolished" counties, and the folly of that abolition may have been belatedly recognised with the formation of some Combined Authorities, such as that for the West Midlands, overseen by an elected Mayor. So retaining the Met Counties as lieutenancy areas makes perfect sense in that context.
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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Steven » Wed Oct 27, 2021 13:13

Chris Bertram wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:51
the folly of that abolition
Creation of them in certainly at least one case was a complete folly with the boundaries it had.

Whilst, say, Greater Manchester is a single functional area with one Travel to Work Area, others most certainly are not (where there are clearly parts of several functional areas), and just resulted in a power grab by the largest city. As I've pointed out before, the requirements of Birmingham and its functional area would have been much better served by an authority actually covering its area, so including Tamworth and Redditch, rather than fighting to take over Coventry and Wolverhampton to either side, both of which have sufficient gravity of their own to be at the centre of large functional areas.

All it results in is infighting as all three cities are separated out from large parts of their functional areas and forced to live with one another instead of having a clear vision.
"Yorkshire" as a unit exists principally in two senses: (1) as a county for sporting representatation and organisation, most famously for Yorkshire CCC, and (2) as the nominal area of the Duke of York, whose title refers to the county rather than the city.
And the one that's completely missed out of the list given here - a historic county with a large associated culture.
The Met Counties didn't actually disappear completely from functional existence, though the county councils were abolished and some powers distributed among the Met Boroughs.
No, all powers were distributed to the boroughs, which became functionally "unitary authorities". There was no residual powers left, although some joint boards were set up to provide some services across the different authorities. Such as...
Policing, for instance, continued to be a county-level function with joint authorities overseeing it
Policing was not a county-level function, but a joint-board of the areas within, just like other policing areas. I've heard this claim that policing is a county-level function here before, but that entirely fails to take account of forces like West Mercia or Thames Valley.

There also used to be a similar claim about West Midlands Ambulance Service too, but that's the clear demonstration of it not being the case.
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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Chris Bertram » Wed Oct 27, 2021 13:57

Steven wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 13:13
Chris Bertram wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:51
the folly of that abolition
Creation of them in certainly at least one case was a complete folly with the boundaries it had.

Whilst, say, Greater Manchester is a single functional area with one Travel to Work Area, others most certainly are not (where there are clearly parts of several functional areas), and just resulted in a power grab by the largest city. As I've pointed out before, the requirements of Birmingham and its functional area would have been much better served by an authority actually covering its area, so including Tamworth and Redditch, rather than fighting to take over Coventry and Wolverhampton to either side, both of which have sufficient gravity of their own to be at the centre of large functional areas.

All it results in is infighting as all three cities are separated out from large parts of their functional areas and forced to live with one another instead of having a clear vision.
"Yorkshire" as a unit exists principally in two senses: (1) as a county for sporting representatation and organisation, most famously for Yorkshire CCC, and (2) as the nominal area of the Duke of York, whose title refers to the county rather than the city.
And the one that's completely missed out of the list given here - a historic county with a large associated culture.
The Met Counties didn't actually disappear completely from functional existence, though the county councils were abolished and some powers distributed among the Met Boroughs.
No, all powers were distributed to the boroughs, which became functionally "unitary authorities". There was no residual powers left, although some joint boards were set up to provide some services across the different authorities. Such as...
Policing, for instance, continued to be a county-level function with joint authorities overseeing it
Policing was not a county-level function, but a joint-board of the areas within, just like other policing areas. I've heard this claim that policing is a county-level function here before, but that entirely fails to take account of forces like West Mercia or Thames Valley.

There also used to be a similar claim about West Midlands Ambulance Service too, but that's the clear demonstration of it not being the case.
Coventry actually asked to be included in the West Midlands county as otherwise it would have become a non-metropolitan district within Warwickshire, losing its responsiblities for education, social services and so on to the county council. Whether that's the case for other parts of the county I don't know, but I can certainly imagine parts of Staffordshire outside Wolverhampton and Walsall having a fit of the vapours about being included and fighting tooth and nail to ensure that it didn't happen.

And you refer to West Mercia and Thames Valley constabularies to try to disprove that policing is county-level. However, look under the bonnet and West Mercia as established in 1974 covered two counties - Shropshire and Hereford & Worcester - a single force being set up for reasons of efficiency. It still covers the same area, though the underlying governance arrangements have changed. Thames Valley covered Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire - again reasons of efficiency mean a single force for three counties. See also Devon & Cornwall, Avon & Somerset, Hampshire including IoW, Northumbria for Northumberland and T&W, and a single force for E&W Sussex. There was never any intention to devolve policing to, e.g. a Wolverhampton force or a Birmingham force, with the cities "just happening" to agree to joint arrangements. See also the fire service for continuing county-level operation; the legislation for the abolition of the GLC and Met Counties set out that this would happen, with a joint committee of the boroughs replacing the county council committee. The third big function that continued at a county level was the PTA/PTE; once again, this was mandated in the abolition legislation. Remember, I was there, working at WMCC at the time of its abolition; we knew what the arrangements would be as they unfolded. The county was still to exist; it would, however, no longer have a council.
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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Steven » Wed Oct 27, 2021 14:14

Chris Bertram wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 13:57
And you refer to West Mercia and Thames Valley constabularies to try to disprove that policing is county-level. However, look under the bonnet and West Mercia as established in 1974 covered two counties - Shropshire and Hereford & Worcester - a single force being set up for reasons of efficiency. It still covers the same area, though the underlying governance arrangements have changed. Thames Valley covered Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire - again reasons of efficiency mean a single force for three counties. See also Devon & Cornwall, Avon & Somerset, Hampshire including IoW, Northumbria for Northumberland and T&W, and a single force for E&W Sussex. There was never any intention to devolve policing to, e.g. a Wolverhampton force or a Birmingham force, with the cities "just happening" to agree to joint arrangements.
But isn't that rather the point - the West Mercia force has an identical arrangement, that of joint-boards. The very items that has been attempted to be set out as differences are in fact, identical!
Chris Bertram wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 13:57
Remember, I was there, working at WMCC at the time of its abolition; we knew what the arrangements would be as they unfolded. The county was still to exist; it would, however, no longer have a council.
I know - and unfortunately that seems to be a case of "too close to the problem" to see the major failings in place.

And as for "still to exist", it's interesting that the phrase "former Metropolitan county" gets used quite a lot; and ONS datasets including "Counties and Unitary Authorities" include all the former metropolitan districts; and "Counties" does not include the former Metropolitan counties. And of course, Ordnance Survey don't mark them at all...
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Re: Missing County sign

Post by Chris Bertram » Wed Oct 27, 2021 14:32

"Former" counties don't usually have Lord Lieutenants. Please don't start to believe that what is in the papers is the truth, you're better than that. If you want to find a real *former* county, I suggest you look for Cleveland, Humberside and Avon, all of which lost their Lords Lieutenant.

The point about the police forces is that the default area for a force (in England, anyway) is a county, whether that be Greater London or Rutland. However, the Home Office decides how forces are organised for reasons of efficiency, and so some forces cover multiple counties. Forces covering single counties used to have a county police committee as their Police Authority, those covering several would have a joint committee drawn from the counties concerned. We now have PCCs, and they're elected from the force area; if the committees still exist, they don't have much say anymore.

Local government reorganisation has, as was inevitable, created a few anomalies of the sort that only Britain could come up with. The three "former" counties named above still have police forces covering their areas under those names, though Avon's force was always a joint one with Somerset. But this is still a legacy of the counties' existence in the first place; the Home Office has simply yet to catch up.
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