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South Bedfordshire

South Bedfordshire
South Bedfordshire within non-metropolitan Bedfordshire post 1998
 • 1974 124,423 acres (503.52 km2)[1]
 • 1973 94,750[1]
 • 1992 110,110[2]
 • 2007 118,200
 • Origin

Municipal Borough of Dunstable
Leighton-Linslade Urban District

Luton Rural District
 • Created 1974
 • Abolished 2009
 • Succeeded by Central Bedfordshire
Status Non-metropolitan district
ONS code 09UE
Government South Bedfordshire District Council
 • HQ Dunstable
 • Motto By Truth and Diligence
Coat of Arms of South Bedfordshire District Council
Logo of South Bedfordshire District Council
 • Type Civil parishes

South Bedfordshire was, from 1974 to 2009, a non-metropolitan district of Bedfordshire, in the East of England. Its main towns were Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Leighton Buzzard.


  • Creation 1
  • Civil parishes 2
  • Elections and political control 3
  • Coat of arms 4
  • Abolition 5
  • References 6


The district was formed on 1 April 1974 as part of a general reorganisation of local authorities in England and Wales carried out under the Local Government Act 1972. South Bedfordshire was formed by the amalgamation of three districts: the municipal borough of Dunstable, Leighton-Linslade urban district and Luton Rural District.[1]

Civil parishes

The district comprised the following civil parishes:[3]

Elections and political control

The first election to South Bedfordshire District Council took place on 7 June 1973, with the 45 councillors elected forming a shadow authority until 1 April 1974.[1] Following ward boundary changes, the number of councillors was increased to 53, with an election of the whole council held in 1976. The council resolved to hold elections by thirds thereafter. Councillors had a four-year term of office, and one third of the council was elected in three years out of four. Elections to Bedfordshire County Council took place in years that there were none to the district council. In 2002 the wards were again redrawn, and the size of the council was reduced to 50 members.[3] An election of the whole council was held on the new boundaries.[3] The electoral cycle continued by thirds in later years. The elections due to take place in May 2008 were cancelled, with councillors staying in office until the abolition of the council in 2009.[4]

The first council elected was under no overall control, with the Conservative Party having the largest number of councillors.[5] The party dominated the council for most of its existence, gaining a majority in 1976 which they held until 1995.[6][7] In 1996 they were supplanted by the Labour Party as the largest grouping on the council, in a year that saw a strong vote against the unpopular Conservative government of John Major.[8] In 1999 the Liberal Democrats briefly became the largest group on the council, which remained under no overall control.[9] The Conservatives staged a recovery in 2000, taking 10 seats from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and again gaining a plurality of councillors.[10] They subsequently regained their majority, which they held until the council's abolition.

Year Conservative Labour Liberal/
Liberal Democrat
Independent Other Control
1973[5] 17 13 8 7 0 No overall control
1976[6] 40 5 6 2 0 Conservative gain from no overall control
1978[11] 37 9 5 2 0 Conservative hold
1979[12] 37 9 6 1 0 Conservative hold
1980[13] 35 11 7 0 0 Conservative hold
1982[14] 34 11 6 2 0 Conservative hold
1983[15] 38 10 4 1 0 Conservative hold
1984[16] 41 9 1 2 0 Conservative hold
1986[17] 37 10 5 1 0 Conservative hold
1987[18] 39 8 4 2 0 Conservative hold
1988[19] 39 8 4 2 0 Conservative hold
1990[20] 37 9 5 2 0 Conservative hold
1991[21] 34 11 6 2 0 Conservative hold
1992[22] 37 9 6 0 1 vacancy Conservative hold
1994[23] 35 9 7 2 0 Conservative hold
1995[7] 24 15 11 2 Ratepayers 1 Conservative loss to no overall control
1996[8] 15 24 11 3 0 No overall control
1998[24] 13 21 13 3 0 No overall control
1999[9] 16 15 19 3 0 No overall control
2000[10] 26 7 17 3 0 No overall control
2002[25] 28 7 15 0 0 Conservative hold
2003[26] 31 6 13 0 0 Conservative hold
2004[27] 34 4 12 0 0 Conservative hold
2006[28] 35 4 11 0 0 Conservative hold
2007[29] 34 4 11 1 0 Conservative hold

† New ward boundaries

Coat of arms

On 27 November 1976 South Bedfordshire District Council was granted armorial bearings by the College of Arms. The arms combined elements from the devices of the three merged councils, and were blazoned as follows:

Or a pile gules over all a single-arched bridge throughout argent masoned sable the keystone charged with an ear of wheat between on the pile three sickles proper all within a bordure engrailed sable; and for a Crest on a wreath of the colours out of a mural crown argent masoned sable in front of a demi-Bull three cog-wheels in fesse Or; and for a Badge or Device: Upon a roundel embattled gules irradiated with rays of the sun a demi-bull rampant couped Or.[30]

The gold and red colouring was derived from the arms of the Bedfordshire County Council. The triangular "pile" and black engrailed border around the shield came from the device of Dunstable Borough Council, itself based on the arms of Dunstable Priory. The bridge across the centre of the shield was from the arms of Leighton Linslade UDC, and the sickles from those of Luton RDC. The crest above the shield was a gold bull, one of the supporters of the county council arms. The motto of Leighton-Linslade, "By Truth and Dilgence" was adopted.[30]


In 2006 the 2009 structural changes to local government in England. On 6 March 2008 it was announced that South Bedfordshire would merge with Mid Bedfordshire to form a new unitary authority called Central Bedfordshire. The new council was formed on 1 April 2009.[31]


  1. ^ a b c d Local government in England and Wales: A Guide to the New System. London:  
  2. ^ OPCS Key Population and Statistics 1992
  3. ^ a b c "The District of South Bedfordshire (Electoral Changes) Order 2001".  
  4. ^ "Elections". South Bedfordshire District Council. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  5. ^ a b "Final poll result may lie with Independents".  
  6. ^ a b "Heavy Labour losses in district polls".  
  7. ^ a b "Complete list of results from Thursday's council elections".  
  8. ^ a b "Complete list of results".  
  9. ^ a b "How Britain voted: Council Election Results".  
  10. ^ a b "Election Results".  
  11. ^ "Power shift in only eight of 80 councils outside London".  
  12. ^ Whitaker's Almanack 1980. London: Joseph Whitaker. 1980.  
  13. ^ "Labour makes gains throughout Britain in local government elections".  
  14. ^ "Conservative candidates hold ground as Alliance bandwagon falters".  
  15. ^ "How votes were cast in local government elections".  
  16. ^ "Labour captures Birmingham and Liberals make gains".  
  17. ^ "How the main parties fared in Britain's local elections".  
  18. ^ "Results in Thursday's local elections".  
  19. ^ "The gains and losses: Council election results in full".  
  20. ^ "Local election results".  
  21. ^ "Complete round-up of results from Thursday's local council elections".  
  22. ^ "Local election results 1992".  
  23. ^ "Non Metropolitan Districts".  
  24. ^ "Local Election results".  
  25. ^ "Election Results".  
  26. ^ "English councils: Non-metropolitan districts".  
  27. ^ "Elections 2004: Results at a glance".  
  28. ^ "Local elections 2006: Results in full.".  
  29. ^ "Results: Election 2007.".  
  30. ^ a b "South Bedfordshire District Council". Civic Heraldry of England and Wales. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  31. ^ Unitary solution confirmed for Bedfordshire - New flagship unitary councils approved for Cheshire - Corporate - Communities and Local Government

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