Letter: Green welly brigade are not the only ones loyal to our historic counties

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The Independent Online
Sir: Christian Wolmar's article, 'The 1974 disasters, Part II' (29 April underlines important problems facing the current local government review, including the total lack of understanding about what a historic county is.

So many people are not cognizant that a historic county is not the same as a local government county - and it is only the latter which is under review by Sir John Banham and his commissioners. Local government counties were created in 1889 and are different from the real historic counties that were part of the fabric of our British heritage hundreds of years before 1889. Postal counties are different to both of the other two. For Mr Wolmar to talk about 'abolishing the 'historic' counties' shows that he, along with many others, has not grasped the difference. Parliament has said time and time again that it cannot abolish what it did not create, and as it only created administrative county units it cannot axe history, geography and loyalty. For example, it can abolish Middlesex County Council but cannot abolish the County of Middlesex - two separate counties with entirely different boundaries.

People's allegiance is to their historic county, and both in 1965, with the abolition of Middlesex County Council, and in 1972, 1973 and 1974, when the rest of the country followed suit, the Government stated 'the new county boundaries are administrative areas, and will not alter the traditional boundaries of counties, nor is it intended that the loyalties of people living in them will change, despite the different names adopted by the new administrative counties'.

The fight for a county's right to exist is not just by the 'green welly brigade'. Equally intense campaigns as in Yorkshire and Somerset are being waged in industrial Lancashire and suburban Middlesex, but it would appear the London-based media is either not interested or has not picked up on what is happening. The romantic notion that only 'little' Rutland wants to exist is nave to say the least.

Whatever the result of the current local government review, the Department of the Environment must recommend that the existence of our historic counties per se should be recognised in statute even if there are no councils corresponding to them. Then local government can be altered as much as it likes without adding further to the annoying anomalies and gross misunderstandings as to what a real county is.

Yours sincerely,

RUSSELL GRANT

Patron

Association of British Counties

Lytham-St-Annes, Lancashire

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