Tyne and Wear is a metropolitan county in North East England around the mouths of the Rivers Tyne and Wear. It came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. It consists of the five metropolitan boroughs of South Tyneside, North Tyneside, City of Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead and the City of Sunderland.
Tyne and Wear 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.
The territory comprising the county of Tyne and Wear previously formed part of the counties of Northumberland and County Durham.
The need to reform local government on Tyneside was recognised as early as 1935, when a Royal Commission to Investigate the Conditions of Local Government on Tyneside was appointed. The three commissioners were to "examine the system of local government in the areas of local government north and south of the river Tyne from the sea to the boundary of the Rural District of Castle Ward and Hexham in the County of Northumberland and to the Western boundary of the County of Durham, to consider what changes, if any, should be made in the existing arrangements with a view to securing greater economy and efficiency, and to make recommendations."
The report of the Royal Commission was published in 1937. It recommended the establishment of a Regional Council for Northumberland and Tyneside (to be called the "Northumberland Regional Council") to administer services that needed to be exercised over a wide area, with a second tier of smaller units for other local government purposes. The second-tier units would be formed by amalgamating the various existing boroughs and districts. The county boroughs in the area would lose their status. Within this area, a single municipality would be formed covering the four county boroughs of Newcastle, Gateshead, Tynemouth, South Shields and other urban districts and boroughs.
A minority report proposed amalgamation of Newcastle, Gateshead, Wallsend, Jarrow, Felling, Gosforth, Hebburn and Newburn into a single "county borough of Newcastle-on-Tyneside". The 1937 report was not acted upon : local authorities were unable to agree on a scheme and the legislation of the time did not allow central government to compel one.
Tyneside (excluding Sunderland) was a Special Review Area under the Local Government Act 1958. The Local Government Commission for England came back with a recommendation to create a new county of Tyneside based on the review area, divided into four separate boroughs. This was not implemented. The Redcliffe-Maud Report proposed a Tyneside unitary authority, again excluding Sunderland, which was to form a separate East Durham unitary authority.
The White Paper that led to the Local Government Act 1972 proposed as "area 2" a metropolitan county including Newcastle and Sunderland, extending as far south down the coast as Seaham and Easington, and bordering "area 4" (which would become Cleveland). The Bill as presented in November 1971 pruned back the southern edge of the area, and gave it the name 'Tyneside'. The name 'Tyneside' was controversial on Wearside, and the name changed to 'Tyne and Wear' by a government amendment upon the request of Sunderland County Borough Council.
The Passenger Transport Authority is a "precepting authority", raising funds by imposing a levy on the Council Tax of the five constituent authorities of Tyne and Wear.
Other joint bodies include Tyne and Wear Museums, Tyne and Wear Archives Service and the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service. These joint bodies are administered by representatives of all five of the constituent councils. In addition the Northumbria Police force, which covers the whole of Northumberland and Tyne and Wear, is one of several joint forces in England spanning two or more counties. The force was created in 1974, and so is not a by-product of the abolition of the county council.
Some organisations do not use Tyne and Wear as a county, instead retaining the historic boundary between Northumberland and County Durham. This includes particularly wildlife and biological recording groups, for whom the stability of recording boundaries is important for the maintenance of long-term records (see Watsonian vice-counties).
Additionally, administrative convenience, demographics and loyalty mean that many sporting organisations also use the historic boundary; For example, the Northumberland Football Association is based in Newcastle upon Tyne, as is the minor counties Northumberland County Cricket Club and its four regular grounds.
Some residents also prefer to use the historic counties when referring to places in Tyne and Wear.
Others feel that the Tyne is linking factor, not a dividing line. Many inhabitants refer to themselves as Tynesiders or Geordies, regardless of which side of the river they are from. Despite a strong local rivalry, there are strong links between Newcastle and Gateshead, as well as the many bridges that link the two communities; one example being the (failed) joint bid for European Capital of Culture in 2008.
Reviews by the Boundary Commission may lead to a change in the number of parliamentary constituencies in Tyne and Wear, reducing them by one. This could see a constituency returning a Conservative MP as the reorganisation of constituencies in the City of Sunderland has created a Sunderland Central constituency, encompassing the Conservative-held wards north and south of the River Wear. Sunderland North and Washington and Sunderland South and Houghton are the other new constituencies, although there has been criticism that Sunderland does not share the same cultural and historical links that Washington and Houghton-le-Spring do, which is currently reflected in the Houghton and Washington East constituency. The small part of the Gateshead East and Washington West constituency that lies within the City of Sunderland will be included in the Sunderland North and Washington constituency.
At the level of local government, three of the region's five unitary authorities were controlled by Labour in 2005, the exceptions being Newcastle City Council and North Tyneside Council. Since an upset result in the local elections of 2004, the former has been controlled by the Liberal Democrats. No one party has overall control of North Tyneside Council: while the Conservatives hold the greatest number of seats, 28, they lack an overall majority, there are 32 other councillors. North Tyneside is the only authority in the area with a directly elected Mayor. Currently a Labour member.
|Gateshead Metropolitian Borough Council|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||Byker|
Newcastle upon Tyne
|Newcastle upon Tyne City Council|
|North Tyneside Metropolitian Borough Council|
|South Tyneside Metropolitian Borough Council|
|Sunderland City Council|