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The city was heavily bombed by the Germans during World War II in a series of 59 raids known as the Plymouth Blitz. Although the dockyards were the principal targets, much of the city centre and over 3,700 houses were completely destroyed and more than 1,000 civilians lost their lives. The redevelopment of the city was planned by Sir Patrick Abercrombie in 1943 and by 1964 over 20,000 new homes had been built. Most of the shops had been destroyed and those that remained were cleared to enable a zoned reconstruction according to his plan. Charles Church was hit by incendiary bombs and partially destroyed in 1941 during the Blitz, but has not been demolished, as it is now an official permanent monument to the bombing of Plymouth during World War II. Devonport Dockyard was kept busy refitting aircraft carriers such as the Ark Royal. By the time this work ended in the late 1970s the nuclear submarine base was operational. The army had substantially left the city by 1971, with barracks pulled down in the 1960s, however the city has become home to the 42 Commando of the Royal Marines.
The first record of the existence of a settlement at Plymouth was in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Sudtone, Saxon for south farm, located at the present day Barbican. In 1254 it gained status as a town and in 1439, became the first town in England to be granted a Charter by Parliament.Between 1439 and 1934, Plymouth was governed by a Mayor. In 1914 the county boroughs of Plymouth and Devonport, and the urban district of East Stonehouse merged to form a single county borough of Plymouth. Collectively they were referred to as "The Three Towns". Plymouth was granted city status on 18 October 1928. The city's first Lord Mayor was appointed in 1935 and its boundaries further expanded in 1967 to include the town of Plympton and the parish of Plymstock.
The city's first Lord Mayor was appointed in 1935 and its boundaries further expanded in 1967 to include the town of Plympton and the parish of Plymstock. In 1254 it gained status as a town and in 1439, became the first town in England to be granted a Charter by Parliament. The 1971 Local Government White Paper proposed abolishing county boroughs, which would have left Plymouth, a town of 250,000 people, being administered from a council based at the smaller Exeter, on the other side of the county. This led to Plymouth lobbying for the creation of a Tamarside county, to include Plymouth, Torpoint, Saltash, and the rural hinterland. The campaign was not successful, and Plymouth ceased to be a county borough on 1 April 1974 with responsibility for education, social services, highways and libraries transferred to Devon County Council. All powers returned when the city become a unitary authority on 1 April 1998 under recommendations of the Banham Commission.
In UK Parliament, Plymouth is represented by the three constituencies of Plymouth Devonport, Plymouth Sutton and South West Devon and within the EU Parliament as South West England and Gibraltar. In the 2005 General Election, Devonport and Sutton were held by Labour MPs Alison Seabeck and Linda Gilroy, with South West Devon held by Conservative MP Gary Streeter. Starting from 2009 or 2010, the next general election, the constituencies of Devonport and Sutton will merge to become Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, whilst a new constituency, Plymouth Moor View, will be formed to the north of the city taking in wards from Devonport.
The City of Plymouth is divided into 20 wards, 17 of which elect three councillors and the other three electing two councillors, making up a total council of 57. Each year a third of the council is up for election for three consecutive years there are no elections on the following "fourth" year, which is when County Council elections take place. The total electorate for Plymouth was 183,358 in December 2007.
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