What’s in a (local planning authority) name ?

As a fairly routine part of my job I end up trying to get different sources of data to play nice. For example, today I’m assembling a set of data for a bunch of councils coming to a leadership academy. I have to take appeals data (from PINS), NI157 data (from DCLG) and some other stuff I’m generating.

Life would be simple if everyone started with a GSS code. These are the standard names for every council. You can then use a VLOOKUP or little database to get your data neatly lined up. If only. PINS say “City of York” and DCLG say “York City Council”.

It’s even worse when you ask a human which council they work for – as we do when people book up for our events. So here, in case it is useful for anyone in a similar position to me, is the list I’ve built over the years. It’s a long list of councils, spelled in many and various ways, mapped to the GSS codes. It works about 80-90% of the time, and when it doesn’t I add the new variety of spelling at the bottom.

It’s a simple job to see which council has the biggest variety of spellings. Step forward the “Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk” (according to their website). You are listed 12 times, a few more than any other:

Borough Council of Kings Lynn & West Norfolk
Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk
Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk
Borough of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk
King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council
King’s Lynn & W. Norfolk
Kings Lynn & West Norfolk
Kings Lynn & West Norfolk BC
Kings Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council
Kings Lynn and West Norfolk
King’s Lynn and West Norfolk
King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council

So, as a small geeky gift to the world here is an English council fuzzy match thing. Enjoy. Authority names and GSS codes etc 1.6

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