Metropolitan county (pop., 2001: 1,362,034), northwestern England. Located on the estuary of the River Mersey, it comprises five metropolitan boroughs: Knowsley, St. Helens, Sefton, Wirral, and the city of Liverpool. The areas to the north of the Mersey, including Liverpool, form part of the historic county of Lancashire, while the borough of Wirral to the south belongs to the historic county of Cheshire. In 1986 it lost its administrative functions, which it held from 1974, and it is now a geographic and ceremonial county without administrative authority. During the 17th century many ships sailing from Liverpool, its main harbour, were engaged in the West Indies slave trade. In the 19th century the area benefited from U.S. cotton imports. Merseyside residents possess a distinctive local dialect, “scouse,” that provides the region with a strong identity. It was bombed heavily during World War II. It is famous for its contributions to national popular culture, from the Beatles to its football teams and its noted golf links.
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Merseyside County Council was abolished in 1986, and so its districts (the metropolitan boroughs) are now effectively unitary authorities. However, the metropolitan county continues to exist in law and as a geographic frame of reference.
Merseyside is divided into two parts by the Mersey estuary: the Wirral is located on the west side of the estuary upon the Wirral Peninsula; the rest of the county is located on the east side. The northern part of Merseyside borders onto Lancashire to the north, Greater Manchester to the east, both parts border Cheshire to the south.
The territory comprising the county of Merseyside previously formed the county boroughs of Birkenhead, Wallasey, Liverpool, Bootle, and St Helens and part of the administrative counties of Lancashire (north of the River Mersey) and Cheshire (south of the River Mersey).
Instead, a Royal Commission was set up to review English local government entirely, and its report (known as the Redcliffe-Maud Report) proposed a much wider Merseyside metropolitan area covering southwest Lancashire and northwest Cheshire, extending as far south as Chester and as far north as the River Ribble. This would have included four districts: Southport/Crosby, Liverpool/Bootle, St Helens/Widnes and Wirral/Chester.
The Redcliffe-Maud Report was rejected by the incoming Conservative Party government, but the concept of a two-tier metropolitan area based on the Mersey area was retained. A White Paper was published in 1971. The Local Government Bill presented to Parliament involved a substantial trimming from the White Paper, excluding the northern and southern fringes of the area, excluding Chester, Ellesmere Port (and, unusually, including Southport, whose council had requested to be included). Further alterations took place in Parliament, with Skelmersdale being removed from the area, and a proposed district including St Helens and Huyton being subdivided into what are now the metropolitan boroughs of St Helens and Knowsley.
Merseyside was created on 1 April 1974 from areas previously parts of the administrative counties of Lancashire and Cheshire, along with the county boroughs of Birkenhead, Wallasey, Liverpool, Bootle, and St Helens. Following the creation of Merseyside, Merseytravel expanded to take in St. Helens and Southport.
Between 1974 and 1986 the county had a two-tier system of local government with the five boroughs sharing power with the Merseyside County Council. However in 1986 the government of Margaret Thatcher abolished the county council along with all other metropolitan county councils, and so its boroughs are now effectively unitary authorities.
Merseyside however still exists legally, both as a metropolitan and ceremonial county.
MORI polls in the boroughs of Sefton and Wirral in the 2000s showed that more residents in these boroughs identified strongly to Merseyside than to Lancashire or Cheshire respectively (but was less likely to be "very strong" as opposed to "fairly strong").
Several organisations are still recognised using the old name of "Merseyside". The court service at Liverpool's Magistrate Court for example, registered the domain merseysidemcc.org.uk on 25 March 2000, more than a decade after the Merseyside Council was abolished.
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Other nearby towns that are not part of Merseyside, such as Skelmersdale, Ormskirk, Warrington, Runcorn, Widnes and Ellesmere Port, the designation "Greater Merseyside" has sometimes been adopted for the area unofficially although has a semi-official usage by some local authorities and organisations and is used by Geographers' A-Z Map Company for their Merseyside Street Atlas . However a separate 'City region' comprising of Merseyside and Halton is more officially recognised as Greater Merseyside although it has also been referred to as Liverpool City Region.
MERSEYSIDE EUROPEAN AID SPECIAL REPORT -DAY 2: How Objective 1 Was Won for Merseyside; Larry Neild Looks Back on How Merseyside's European Millions Were Secured -and the Dreams That Never Quite Became Reality
Mar 09, 2004; Byline: Larry Neild THE award to Merseyside of Objective 1 status --and all of that European gold that goes with it -was...