Talk:Counties debacle

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Which country?

>> There are currently three things called counties in this country <<.

Erm, would that be "in England"? I think it needs to be made clear which country we are talking about in this article. SABRE covers up to seven "countries" in Britain and Ireland, depending upon your definitions. -- Viator 14:10, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Administrative counties

The article makes several references to "administrative counties" using the present tense. The question is: Do such beasts exist?

Even the Association of British Counties (ABC) -- who are the ultras in the "the historic counties are still alive and kicking" debate -- affirms on its County-Wise (county-wise.org.uk) website that the administrative counties have gone:
>> The Local Government Act 1972 radically amended local government in the rest of England and Wales. It abolished the LGA 1888’s administrative counties <<

It further argues that none of the local government areas that have succeeded the erstwhile administrative counties are, by its own lights, counties of any stripe. Indeed, the ABC argues strongly that no council responsible for administering a post-1972 local government area is entitled to call itself a county council (what sauce!).

I believe that if the SABRE Wiki is to go on using the term "administrative county" (and I think I would, on the whole, much prefer it if it refrained from doing so, other than in reference to entities abolished in 1972) it needs -- since the term has no currently applicable legal definition -- to supply a definition of its own devising (accompanied by an explanatory page). As things stand, I believe that the SABRE Wiki is the only source to make reference to the likes of the Administrative County of Norfolk (capital A, capital C!), the Administrative County of Cheshire West and Chester, the Administrative County of Poole, etc.

Comments? -- Viator (talk) 02:38, 5 July 2019 (BST)

It's not entirely true to say that it's "the only place". Administrative counties as a phrase is used in a number of locations including gov.uk, the BBC and OpenStreetMap. Having said that, in our terms we're actually talking about Highway Authorities anyway, which makes more sense within our context. If we're going full-on legalese, there is also no such thing as "Ceremonial Counties" which get mentioned regularly too - they're "counties for the purposes of lieutenancy".
After all that, we shouldn't actually be using that phrase anyway. As it says in Help:Place Names, Unless specified otherwise, counties within the SABRE Wiki refer to the Traditional (or Historic) County, rather than any modern or defunct administrative area such as former Metropolitan Counties or former administrative counties such as Avon or Cleveland. Traditional Counties are used as the primary geographical area larger than an individual town or city. [...] Traditional Counties are the only geographical reference that is unambiguously correct for any road project ever. Hence any "X is in Y" type phrases should refer to the place of X in the historic county of Y; though in many cases it's immediately followed with wording along the lines of "its non-trunk road network is managed and maintained by Z", with Z being the relevant top-tier local authority.
I'm also not entirely sure why this article exists? And as this is a bit of a tucked-away place to be discussing something that I suspect affects many pages, this question needs to be raised on the Wiki and Maps Forum as agreed, not here. Steven (talk) 08:51, 5 July 2019 (BST)

Many thanks for the reply, Steven.

You wrote:

>> I'm also not entirely sure why this article exists <<

Nor am I! That was, in truth, my main reason for starting this discussion. I agree with you that if we are going to use the term "administrative county" at all it should be with reference to the entities abolished in 1972. At present those words appear in fifty SABRE Wiki articles -- in forty-six of which, by my count, they are used inaccurately!

A typical example from among those 46 is:

>> Herefordshire Council is the Highway Authority for all roads in the Administrative County of Herefordshire, which does not include roads managed by Highways England. It lies mostly within the historic county of Herefordshire.<<

I believe this should read something like:

Herefordshire Council is the Highway Authority for all roads (other than trunk roads, which are managed by Highways England) in the area it administers, which corresponds roughly to that of the historic county of Herefordshire.

I especially dislike such entries as:

>>Luton Borough Council is the Highway Authority for all roads in the Administrative County of Luton, with the exception of Trunk roads managed by Highways England. It lies within the historic county of Bedfordshire.<<

Should in my opinion be:

Luton Borough Council is the Highway Authority for all roads (other than trunk roads, which are managed by Highways England) in the area it administers, which lies within the historic county of Bedfordshire.

There may once have been a Luton County Borough but that "Administrative County of Luton" must surely be wrong -- although "the non-metropolitan county of Luton" IS referred in government texts, as well, of course, as the Borough of Luton.

What is your view, by the way, on the continued use (in general) of the terms "metropolitan" and "non-metropolitan county"?

P.S. The structure of English local government is especially muddled, but even "revolutionary" France -- which has seen far, far less change in local government than "traditional" England in the last 230 years (the great majority of communes and départements occupy exactly the same territory as they did in 1790) -- contrives to be singularly lacking in clarity at times. I've been trying for some time -- in connection with some other work I've been doing -- to get my head round the system by which the boundaries of National Assembly constituencies are decided. It turns out they are based on groupings within each département of entities known as cantons (which are themselves groupings of communes: there were 34,979 of them on 1 January 2019!). The problem is that the cantons used in 2017 were not those in existence at the time, but those that had existed before 2014, when there was a great reparcelling -- itself based not on the most recent census figures at the time, but on an earlier census dating back to 1999... -- Viator (talk) 21:45, 7 July 2019 (BST)

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