The Local Government Commission for England was established in July 1992 under the Local Government Act 1992. It inherited the functions of the former Local Government Boundary Commission for England in relation to boundaries and local electoral issues, but it also had a significant new duty, which was to review the structure of local government in shire England.
The Act required the Commission to conduct reviews of areas of England specified by the Secretary of State for the Environment and to recommend in respect of each area either "that he should make such structural, boundary and electoral changes as were specified in the recommendations; or that he should make no such changes." This review of structure formed part of a wider programme of reform of English local government, which also included the replacement of the community charge by the council tax (effected by the Local Government Finance Act 1992), the extension of the market testing of local government services, and a review of internal management arrangements.
The Commission met for the first time in July 1992. It expected originally to carry out its review of 39 areas in shire England in five tranches, and to complete its work by the end of 1997. At the direction of the Secretary of State the Commission started immediately on this programme, and completed its work on the first tranche in January 1994. However, in November 1993 the timetable for the remainder of the structural review was speeded up and the Commission was directed by the Secretary of State to complete all the reviews by the end of 1994.
The Commission's final recommendations were for the creation of 50 new unitary authorites in 21 out of the 39 county areas reviewed, and the abolition of the counties of Avon, Cleveland and Humberside. This would have represented a substantial increase (from 36 to 86) in the number of English unitary authorities outside London. In the other 18 county areas the Commission recommended that there should be no change to the existing two-tier structure. On the basis of its evaluation of the identities and interests of local communities, and the requirements of effective and convenient local government, the Commission was not satisfied that changes were desirable in those areas. In the event, only 46 new unitary authorities were created.
Following the structural reviews, the Commission commenced a periodic electoral review of all English local authorities. In advance of first elections to the London Assembly, it was also responsible for reviewing and making recommendations for the pattern of Assembly constituencies.
The Commission was wound up in 2002, when its functions were transferred to the Boundary Committee for England, a statutory committee of the Electoral Commission. In 2004, the Boundary Committee completed the periodic electoral review commenced by the Commission.
The links below provide copies of the reviews carried out by the LGCE: