The Metropolitan Borough of Bury is a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester in North West England, just north of Manchester, which consists of six towns: Bury, Ramsbottom, Tottington, Radcliffe, Whitefield and Prestwich. Bury bounds the Lancashire districts of Rossendale and Blackburn with Darwen to the north.
The Metropolitan Borough of Bury, which covers 24,511 acres (99 km2) and has a population of 181,900, was created on 1 April 1974, with the transfer of functions from the county borough of Bury and the boroughs of Prestwich and Radcliffe, along with the urban districts of Tottington and Whitefield, and part of the urban district of Ramsbottom, all previously in Lancashire.
In 2006, facing a budget shortfall of over £10 million, Bury Metropolitan Council decided to sell its painting by L. S. Lowry called “A Riverbank”. The work, which depicts the River Irwell and cost £175 in 1951, was expected to fetch between £500,000 and £800,000. Between the announcement and the sale at Christie’s, the council was accused of “selling off the family silver”. The authority, which had the painting on display at Bury Art Museum, said it was putting its people before a picture. The painting raised £1.25 million for the authority on 17 November 2006 at the auction in London, costing the bidder £1,408,000 including commission. Consequently, the council’s membership of the Museums Association was cancelled and it was deregistered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, a quango that was disbanded in 2011, transferring some of its duties to Arts Council England.
In 2004 the Electoral Commission reviewed the electoral arrangements for Bury, resulting in 17 wards:
These 17 wards are each represented by 3 councillors to form a council of 51 members. The Bury electorate figures based on the 2006 forecast are: Total electorate 140,697; Average electorate for ward 8,276; Average number of electors for councillor 2,759.
At the 2008 Bury Metropolitan Borough Council election the average turnout to vote was 38.22%. This varied locally with 47.32% of electors voting in North Manor ward and a low turnout of only 32.4% in Besses ward.
In July 2008 the borough was the first in Greater Manchester to hold a referendum on whether to install a directly-elected mayor. This was the result of a campaign against congestion charge plans that raised a petition with 9,460 names, well above the required five per cent of voters needed to trigger a mayoral vote. The proposal to have an elected Mayor was rejected.