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In 1967 Plymouth absorbed the towns of Plympton and Plymstock. Plympton pre-dates any development in the Sutton / Plymouth area on the coast. Plympton stands two miles inland on the river Plym, and its origins, which, like that of Sutton, date from the Saxon age, were founded on tin mining and trading. For as long as trading vessels could reach Plympton, the community flourished. However, in the early years of the last millennium the river silted with mining residue, and it was from that time that Sutton / Plymouth grew to pre-eminence. The name Plympton means plum-tree village in Saxon English, and it was from this that the river and later the city of Plymouth itself derived their names.
Today Plymouth is the third largest city in southern England, with a population of almost 250,000. It has strong links with several European cities, with ferry links to France and Spain. Plymouth is twinned with Gdynia in Poland, San Sebastian in Spain, Novorossiysk in Russia, Brest in France and, since 2001, with Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The whole region is a popular tourist destination, and the city itself attracts large numbers of visitors, particularly Americans, who are drawn to the Old Barbican district where they can stroll through streets that date from the sixteenth century and take tea in Elizabethan tearooms. At the Barbican, too, is the Mayflower Steps monument, built in 1934 and a permanent reminder of the Pilgrims' voyage to America. Plymouth's motto is Turris fortissima est nomen Jehovah - "the name of Jehovah is the strongest tower", taken from the Proverbs of Solomon.
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 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 the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Plymouth is represented by the three constituencies of Plymouth Moor View, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport and South West Devon and within the European Parliament as South West England. In the 2010 general election, Moor View and South West Devon were held by Conservative MPs Oliver Colvile and Gary Streeter, with Sutton and Devonport held by Labour MP Alison Seabeck.
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. The local election of May 2010 resulted in a political composition of 36 Conservative councillors, 20 Labour and one independent, resulting in a Conservative administration.
Plymouth has a Lord Mayor, which is elected each year on the third Friday of May by a group of six people. It is traditional that the position of the Lord Mayor alternates between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party annually and that the Lord Mayor chooses the Deputy Lord Mayor. As of May 2009 and until May 2010 Ken Foster holds the position of Lord Mayor.