Administrative Areas - Some Definitions


An administrative area (normally District or Unitary Authority) with an elected council and with privileges conferred by charter or defined by statute. The official name of the area will not have changed, although the Council are likely to include it in their name
There are 7 Boroughs (Districts) in Hertfordshire:

  • Broxbourne: "Borough of Broxbourne" Counci
  • Dacorum: "Dacorum Borough" Council
  • Hertsmere: "Hertsmere Borough" Council
  • St Albans: "St Albans City and District" Council
  • Stevenage: "Stevenage Borough" Council
  • Watford: "Watford Borough" Council
  • Welwyn Hatfield: "Welwyn Hatfield Borough" Council

Borough Constituency

See Parliamentary Constituency

Census Ward (Census Area Statistics Ward or CAS Ward) (defunct)

A non-administrative area for which the Office of National Statistics (ONS) collate socio-demographic data in the Census held once every 10 years in England and Wales.
Census Wards generally have the same geographic extent (and have the same name) as the District Wards extant at the time of the Census and remain ‘frozen’. It is often difficult to compare census data from two or more censuses as the geographic areas may not match.
Census wards were subdivided into Enumeration Districts until 1991; for the census in 2001 they were subdivided into Census Output Areas (OA - which may be aggregated into different levels of Super Output Areas). For the 2011 Census, no Census Ward boundaries were published. Instead, the ONS published an approximate correlation between OAs and 2011 District Wards.

Civil Parish

Civil parishes were created by the Local Government Act 1894.
It is the the lowest tier of local government in Hertfordshire, below county then District; they are not related to Wards. It is an administrative parish, in contrast to an ecclesiastical parish (a subdivision of a diocese having its own church and a clergyman).
A parish council serving a town may be called a Town Council, however before 1974 civil parishes had existed only within rural districts, as urban districts served a similar purpose. The 1972 Local Government Act replaced some Municipal Boroughs and Urban District with Parish Councils, who designated themselves Town Councils. Town Councils have a Mayor instead of a Chariman.
Not every civil parish has a parish council, those with a small electorate (typically fewer than 200) may instead have a "Parish Meeting" with statutory powers, an elected chairman and clerk.
In Hertfordshire there are ‘unparished’ areas also designated as Non Civil Parish (NCP) by Ordnance Survey. Unparished areas are often described as “the unparished area of X District” in Statutory Instruments (legal orders typically enacting boundary changes). In unparished areas, where there is no parish council, powers are exercised by the district council.


An administrative area having an elected council and forming the chief unity of local administration. County Councils were established by the Local Government Act 1898. A county may be subdivided into Districts (see also Borough) and Civil Parishes.

County Borough (abolished)

County borough is a term introduced in 1889 in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (excluding Scotland), to refer to a borough or a city independent of county council control.
County Boroughs were abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales; Unitarty Authorities now have the same similar powers

County Constituency

See Parliamentary Constituency

District (Non-metropolitan District)

A subdivision of a County having an elected council, some Districts are also Boroughs. District Councils were established by the Local Government Act 1898. There are 10 Districts (including Boroughs) in Hertfordshire.

District Ward (Local Authority District Ward)

Districts are divided into wards for electoral purposes, one or more Councillors being democratically elected to represent the resident population in Local Government (District Council).
The term District Ward is commonly used to differentiate between these wards and Census Wards. The boundaries of wards may be altered by statute as a result of an administrative boundary review, structural review or electoral review carried out by The Local Government Boundary Committee for England (LGBCE). It is not unusual for the amended area to retain the original name, however, where the area has been substantially altered, a new name is often adopted. District Wards may be subdivided into Polling Districts.

Electoral Division

The area represented by a County Councillor; there are 78 (from 2017) Electoral Divisions in Hertfordshire.
Apart from the special cases of the Isles of Scilly and the Greater London Authority (GLA), the English county councils are the only type of local authority in the UK which does not use standard electoral (district) wards for electing councillors, and use EDs instead.
These county electoral divisions are confined within district boundaries, but need not be based on whole electoral (district) wards. Like electoral wards, county electoral divisions are defined by the Boundary Committee for England (BCFE
Electoral Division Boundaries are denoted by the abbreviation ED on Ordnance Survey Maps (not to be confused with the abbreviation of Enumeration District).

Enumeration District (defunct)

A subdivision of a Census Ward, before 1991, now no longer used (except when using old data) frequently abbreviated to ED. The smallest are for which Census data is available.
Not to be confused with Electoral Division.

European Parliamentary Constituency (abolished)

The area represented by a Member of the European Parliament. European Parliamentary Constituencies are not coincident with County Boundaries.
Hertfordshire fell into two such constituencies, before the UK left the European Union.

First Tier Administrative Areas

Since each of the current types of administrative areas are in force over different parts of the country, one dataset was made by collating:Counties, Unitary Authories, London Boroughs or Metropolitan Districts

Hundred (abolished)

An administrative division of a Shire, probably established in the 10th century. Hundreds were superseded by the Urban and Rural Districts established by the Local Government Act 1894.

London Boroughs

These are officailly Local Authority Districts, but unlike general Districts, they are the principle Local Authorities and are responsible for running most services, such as Schools and Social Services, normally administered by the County Council (much like Metropolitan Boroughs below).
There are 32 London Boroughs, with Greater London Authority having strategic administrative and planning powers over them (as well as responsibility for transport, policing and the fire service).

Metropolitan Districts (Metropolitan Boroughs)

A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district in England, and is a subdivision of a metropolitan county. They are officially Districts, but all (currently 36) have been been given Borough status by royal charter

Metropolitan County

The metropolitan counties are a type of county-level administrative division of England.
There are six metropolitan counties, each covering large urban areas.
The metropolitan county councils were abolished in 1986 with most of their functions being devolved to the individual boroughs, making the boroughs effectively unitary authorities. The remaining functions were taken over by joint boards and combined authorities.

Municipal Borough (abolished)

Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974.
The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 reformed town governance, to create an elected town council in Muncipal Boroughs (Not to be confused with Parish Town Councils).
The Local Government Acts of 1888 (which came into affect 1989) and 1894 created non-county boroughs and county councils, subdivided into Urban and Rural Districts. However, many larger urban districts were granted the status of "Municipal Borough", so the Administrative Area name continued; in 1971 there were 4 Municipal Boroughs in Hertfordshire, alongside the Urban and Rural Districts.
Muncipal Boroughs were abolished on 1 April 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972. In England, they were replaced by metropolitan or non-metropolitan districts (see District) and in Wales by districts.


See Civil Parish

Parish Ward

In England (and formerly Wales) the smallest unit of local government is the Civil Parish. Parishes are sometimes subdivided into parish wards for electoral purposes.

Parliamentary Constituency

The area represented by a Member of Parliament at the House of Commons; there are 10 Parliamentary Constituencies in Hertfordshire.
Constituencies tend to exist within County Council Boundaries, but do not have to.
They can be classed as "County Constituencies" or "Borough Constituencies".
The OS refer to these as "Westminister Constituencies"

Polling District

A subdivision of a District Ward. The electoral Register is arranged by Polling District.

Rural District (abolished)

Established by the Local Government Act 1898 and abolished in 1974.
In 1971 there were 18 Rural Districts and 18 Urban Districts (plus 4 Municipal Boroughs) in Hertfordshire


Old English word superseded by County. Many Shires followed the boundaries of ancient kingdoms and provinces.

Unitary Authority

Unitary authorities of England are local authorities that are responsible for the provision of all local government services within a district. They are constituted under the Local Government Act 1992, which amended the Local Government Act 1972 to allow the existence of counties that do not have multiple districts.

Urban District (abolished)

Established by the Local Government Act 1888 (which came into affect 1898) and abolished in 1974.
In 1971 there were 18 Urban Districts (plus 4 Municipal Boroughs) and 18 Rural Districts in Hertfordshire


Census Ward, District Ward or Parish Ward may be meant. Ward is sometimes mistakenly used to mean Electoral Division. As the context is often unclear, the term is probably best avoided.

Westminister Constituency

See Parliamentary Constituency

More Information

For other Geographies (territorial units), including Health see Office for National Statistics - UK Geographies
The above has also got a link to Postal Geographies, but it is also worth referring to here: Postcodes - Assigning Postcodes to Defined Geographic Areas