Local government in Wales

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: UK Politics & government

For local government purposes, Wales is divided into 22 unitary authorities. There are nine counties, three cities1, and ten county boroughs, although all have equal powers. Collectively these are known as the principal areas of Wales. They came into being on April 1, 1996 by virtue of the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 (1994 c. 19).

1 There are five cities in total in Wales — in addition to the three unitary authorities with City status, the communities of Bangor and St David's also have the status.

Principal areas of Wales

Areas are Counties, unless marked * (for Cities) or † (for County Boroughs). Welsh language forms are given in parentheses, where they differ from the English.

  1. Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tudful) †
  2. Caerphilly (Caerffili) †
  3. Blaenau Gwent †
  4. Torfaen (Tor-faen) †
  5. Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy)
  6. Newport (Casnewydd) *
  7. Cardiff (Caerdydd) *
  8. Vale of Glamorgan (Bro Morgannwg) †
  9. Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr) †
  10. Rhondda Cynon Taf (Rhondda Cynon Tâf) †
  11. Neath Port Talbot (Castell-nedd Porth Talbot) †
  12. Swansea (Abertawe) *
  13. Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin)
  14. Ceredigion
  15. Powys
  16. Wrexham (Wrecsam) †
  17. Flintshire (Sir y Fflint)
  18. Denbighshire (Sir Ddinbych)
  19. Conwy †
  20. Gwynedd
  21. Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Môn)
  22. Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)

Name changes

The current names of certain principal areas are different from those specified in the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994. The following changes took place, all with effect from April 2, 1996 :

  • Conwy from Aberconwy and Colwyn
  • Isle of Anglesey from Anglesey
  • Gwynedd from Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire
  • Ceredigion from Cardiganshire
  • Neath Port Talbot from Neath and Port Talbot


The lowest level of subdivision below principal areas are Communities. Each Welsh principal area is subdivided into communities. They have elected community councils (CCs) which perform a number of roles, such as providing local facilities, and representing their communities to larger local government bodies. Community councils are the equivalent of English parish councils. A community council may call itself a 'town council' if it wishes to do so. Two Welsh communities Bangor and St David's have city status and are therefore called 'City Councils'. Communities which are too small to have a council have a community meeting instead, an example of direct democracy.

Police and fire services

Police forces

There are four police forces in Wales. These are:

  1. North Wales Police (Heddlu Gogledd Cymru)
  2. Dyfed-Powys Police (Heddlu Dyfed Powys)
  3. South Wales Police (Heddlu De Cymru)
  4. Gwent Police (Heddlu Gwent)

Fire and rescue services

There are three fire and rescue services in Wales. The present Welsh fire services date from 1996. Each covers a number of principal areas. These are:

  1. North Wales Fire and Rescue Service (Gwasanaeth Tân ac Achub Gogledd Cymru)
  2. Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (Gwasanaeth Tân ac Achub Canolbarth a Gorllewin Cymru)
  3. South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (Gwasanaeth Tân ac Achub De Cymru)


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