Definition of unitary authority in English:

unitary authority

(also unitary council)


  • (chiefly in the UK) an administrative division of local government established in place of, or as an alternative to, a two-tier system of local councils.

    • ‘The plan is to replace the two-tier system with powerful unitary authorities to deliver all council services in their area.’
    • ‘Mr Prescott has already made clear that where devolution is introduced, all two-tier systems of local government must be replaced by unitary councils.’
    • ‘A single unitary council providing all local government services is the best way to do this.’
    • ‘City of York Council, already a unitary authority, would not be affected by the reorganisation.’
    • ‘If a vote is held, possibly next year, people will be asked whether they want Lancashire County Council to be scrapped and replaced with a regional assembly, with borough councils merging to form unitary authorities.’
    • ‘However, the body representing county councils has claimed that replacing two-tier county and district council government with three unitary councils - among the options proposed for North Yorkshire - could typically cost £76m.’
    • ‘Thirty years on there is talk in the air of even more radical changes, which will merge district and county councils into unitary authorities and create a regional assembly for the North West of England.’
    • ‘And Lancashire Tories immediately rejected plans to replace the two-tier system of local government with three or four unitary authorities.’
    • ‘The cabinet recently agreed its response to consultations on possible elected regional assemblies which could replace county councils and operate with a system of unitary authorities at local levels.’
    • ‘Blackburn with Darwen Council, as a unitary authority, deals with its own gritting.’
    • ‘If a regional assembly - which would take control of a limited number of government functions - is voted for in the autumn, the government will replace Lancashire's two-tier council system with unitary authorities.’
    • ‘The White Paper is likely to require the abolition of the existing North Yorkshire two-tier system of county/district councils and its replacement with a new system of unitary councils.’
    • ‘The same day, elections will also be held for 34 county councils in England, three unitary authorities, local councils in Northern Ireland, and four mayoral contests in English towns.’
    • ‘So, in the county authorities like Lancashire and Cheshire, a single layer of local government - unitary authorities - would be set up in aniticipation of the assembly.’
    • ‘In this region, that means scrapping North Yorkshire's traditional county and district council structure and replacing it with the unitary council system that applies everywhere else in Yorkshire such as Leeds, Sheffield and Hull.’
    • ‘Until those views had been heard, and decisions finalised over boundaries to make remaining district and county councils into unitary authorities, the fine detail would remain a ‘moveable feast’, he said.’
    • ‘There are local authority elections in England for all the county councils and some unitary authorities.’
    • ‘If there is a ‘yes’ vote for a regional assembly in next year's referendum, the county council believes a single unitary council for the whole of North Yorkshire would be the best solution to deliver local services.’
    • ‘Service delivery will still be done where it's done best at local level probably by unitary authorities or an all-embracing county authority.’
    • ‘During his time on Blackburn with Darwen Council, Bill has served as chairman of the finance and recreation committees as well as heading the education department when the council became a unitary authority in 1998.’


unitary authority