Regional and Local Administration

Regional and local administration

There are two styles of address for individuals in regional and local administration: formal and social.  In most circumstances the social form of address is used - that is a polite but slightly less deferential style of approach than the very rigid form that was followed in the last century. The formal styles of address may be found in the published edition of Debrett's Correct Form.

The English system of local government is highly complex. England is subdivided into nine regional authorities, and only one of these - London - has an elected Assembly and Mayor.

Below this regional level there are two main types of local government: county councils (responsible for areas such as education and strategic planning, with a number of district councils within the county taking responsibility for services such as waste management, planning and housing); unitary authorities (which combine these two strata - county and district councils - into a single authority.

Since the Local Government Act 2000 most councils have moved to an executive-based system, either with a council leader and a cabinet acting as an executive authority, or with a directly elected mayor. A number of district councils (those with populations of less than 85,000) are governed by a committee system.

There are currently 12 directly-elected mayors, all of them in districts that voted in a referendum in favour of them.

Where borough councils have not opted for a directly elected mayor the chair of the council is mayor. In some cities the mayor is known as the Lord Mayor.

The British Sovereign's personal representatives in the UK are known as Lord-Lieutenants. This position dates back to the mid-16th century, when the military functions of the sheriff were handed over to the Lord Lieutenant, who was responsible for local militias.

These non-political appointees are normally retired people with a substantial local reputation - for example local businessmen, senior military officers, or peers. Their responsibilities include: arranging Royal visits, presenting awards on behalf of the Sovereign, leading the local magistracy, chairing committees appealing against local Income Tax decisions.

Within each county High Sheriffs are appointed for a year as the Sovereign's judicial representative.  They attend judges sitting in local courts and provide hospitality for them. The post is unpaid.

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