Administrative Areas - Some Definitions


An administrative area with an elected council and with privileges conferred by charter or defined by statute. There are 5 Boroughs in Hertfordshire.

Census Ward or Census Area Statistics Ward or CAS Ward

A non-administrative area for which the Office of National Statistics (ONS) collate socio-demographic data in the Census held once every 10 years in England and Wales. Census Wards generally have the same geographic extent (and have the same name) as the District Wards extant at the time of the Census and remain ‘frozen’. It is often difficult to compare census data from two or more censuses as the geographic areas may not match. Census wards were subdivided into Enumeration Districts until 1991; for the census in 2001 they were subdivided into Census Output Areas (OA - which may be aggregated into different levels of Super Output Areas). For the 2011 Census, no Census Ward boundaries were published. Instead, the ONS published an approximate correlation between OAs and 2011 District Wards.

Civil Parish

A civil parish is a territorial designation forming the lowest tier of local government in Hertfordshire, below districts and county. It is an administrative parish, in contrast to an ecclesiastical parish (a subdivision of a diocese having its own church and a clergyman). In Hertfordshire there are ‘unparished’ areas also designated as Non Civil Parish (NCP) by Ordnance Survey. Unparished areas are often described as “the unparished area of X District” in Statutory Instruments (legal orders typically enacting boundary changes). In unparished areas, where there is no parish council, powers are exercised by the district council. Not every civil parish has a parish council, those with a small electorate (typically fewer than 200) may instead have a parish meeting with statutory powers, an elected chairman and clerk. A parish council serving a town may be called a town council.


An administrative area having an elected council and forming the chief unity of local administration. County Councils were established by the Local Government Act 1898. A county may be subdivided into Districts (see also Borough) and Civil Parishes.


A subdivision of a County having an elected council, some Districts are also Boroughs. District Councils were established by the Local Government Act 1898. There are 10 Districts (including Boroughs) in Hertfordshire.

District Ward (Local Authority District Ward)

Districts are divided into wards for electoral purposes, one or more Councillors being democratically elected to represent the resident population in Local Government (District Council). The term District Ward is commonly used to differentiate between these wards and Census Wards. The boundaries of wards may be altered by statute as a result of an administrative boundary review, structural review or electoral review carried out by The Boundary Committee for England. It is not unusual for the amended area to retain the original name but, where the area has been substantially altered, a new name is often adopted. District Wards may be subdivided into Polling Districts.

Electoral Division

The area represented by a County Councillor. Often Electoral Divisions are a combination of District Wards. Electoral Division Boundaries are denoted by the abbreviation ED on Ordnance Survey Maps (not to be confused with the abbreviation of Enumeration District) there are 77 Electoral Divisions in Hertfordshire.

Enumeration District

A subdivision of a Census Ward, before 1991, now no longer used (except when using old data) frequently abbreviated to ED. The smallest are for which Census data is available. Not to be confused with Electoral Division.

European Parliamentary Constituency

The area represented by a Member of the European Parliament. European Parliamentary Constituencies are not coincident with County Boundaries/ Hertfordshire falls into two such constituencies.


An administrative division of a Shire, probably established in the 10th century’. Hundreds were superseded by the Districts established by the Local Government Act 1894.


See Civil Parish

Parish Ward

In England (and formerly Wales) the smallest unit of local government is the Civil Parish. Parishes are sometimes subdivided into parish wards for electoral purposes.

Parliamentary Constituency

The area represented by a Member of Parliament at the House of Commons. There are 10 Parliamentary Constituencies in Hertfordshire.

Polling District

A subdivision of a District Ward. The electoral Register is arranged by Polling District.

Rural District

Established by the Local Government Act 1898 and abolished in 1974.


Old English word superseded by County. Many Shires followed the boundaries of ancient kingdoms and provinces.

Urban District

Established by the Local Government Act 1898 and abolished in 1974.


Census Ward, District Ward or Parish Ward may be meant. Ward is sometimes mistakenly used to mean Electoral Division. As the context is often unclear, the term is probably best avoided.