Structural changes to local government in England were effected on 1 April 2009, whereby a number of new unitary authorities were created in parts of the country which previously operated a 'two-tier' system of counties and districts. In five shire counties the functions of the county and district councils were combined into a single authority; and in two counties the powers of the county council were absorbed into a significantly reduced number of districts.

Elections to the new authorities took place on 1 May 2008 for some of the new authorities, which took up their powers on 1 April 2009. The other new authorities retained the existing county council as the "continuing authority" as of 1 April 2009 with elections taking place two months later on 4 June 2009.