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City of Colchester

Coordinates: 51°53′19″N 0°54′13″E / 51.88861°N 0.90361°E / 51.88861; 0.90361
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City of Colchester
Colchester Castle in Colchester, the administrative centre and largest settlement
Colchester Castle in Colchester, the administrative centre and largest settlement
Colchester shown within Essex
Colchester shown within Essex
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionEast of England
Non-metropolitan countyEssex
StatusNon-metropolitan district, City,
Admin HQColchester
Incorporated1 April 1974
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district council
 • BodyColchester City Council
 • Leadership(No overall control)
 • MPsBernard Jenkin
Priti Patel
Will Quince
 • Total128.64 sq mi (333.18 km2)
 • Rank115th (of 296)
 • Total194,394
 • Rank103rd (of 296)
 • Density1,500/sq mi (580/km2)
Ethnicity (2021)
 • Ethnic groups
Religion (2021)
 • Religion
Time zoneUTC0 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code22UG (ONS)
E07000071 (GSS)
OS grid referenceTL997254

The City of Colchester is a local government district with city status in Essex, England, named after its main settlement, Colchester. The district also includes the towns of West Mersea and Wivenhoe and the surrounding rural areas stretching from Dedham Vale on the Suffolk border in the north to Mersea Island in the Colne Estuary in the south.

The district borders Tendring District to the east, Maldon District to the south, Braintree District to the west, and Babergh District in Suffolk to the north.



Colchester stands on the site of Camulodunum, which had been an important stronghold of the Trinovantes and Catuvellauni tribes in the Iron Age prior to the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD. The Romans subsequently developed Camulodunum into the first capital of their province of Britannia. They later moved their capital to Londinium (London). Following the end of Roman rule in Britain in the early 5th century, the area was settled by Anglo-Saxons, and the town on the site of Camulodunum became known as Colchester.[2]

Colchester was an ancient borough with urban forms of local government from Saxon times. Burgesses were already established by the time of the Domesday survey of 1086. The earliest known borough charter dates from 1189, but that charter appears to confirm pre-existing borough rights rather than being the foundation of a new borough.[3] The borough was reformed in 1836 to become a municipal borough.[4]

The current district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, covering four former districts which were abolished at the same time:[5]

The new district was named Colchester after its largest settlement.[6] The new district was awarded borough status from its creation, allowing the chair of the council to take the title of mayor, continuing Colchester's series of mayors.[7]

As part of the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II celebrations in 2022, the borough of Colchester was granted city status, confirmed by Letters Patent dated 5 September 2022, allowing the council to change its name to "Colchester City Council".[8]


Colchester City Council
Lesley Scott-Boutell,
since 22 May 2024
David King,
Liberal Democrat
since 22 May 2022
Pamela Donelly
since 1 April 2022[10]
Political groups
Administration (14)
  Liberal Democrats (14)

Other parties (35)

  Conservatives (19)
  Labour (14)[a]
  Green (3)
  Independent (1)
Last election
2 May 2024
Next election
7 May 2026
Meeting place
Town Hall, High Street, Colchester, CO1 1PJ

Colchester City Council provides district-level services. County-level services are provided by Essex County Council. Parts of the district are also covered by civil parishes, which form a third tier of local government.[11]

Political control


The council has been under no overall control since 2008. Since the 2023 election it has been controlled by a Liberal Democrat minority administration with the support of the Labour Party and the Green Party on a case-by-case basis.[12]

The first election to the borough council following the reforms of the Local Government Act 1972 was held in 1973, initially operating as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until the new arrangements came into effect on 1 April 1974. Political control of the council since 1974 has been as follows:[13][14][15]

Party in control Years
No overall control 1974–1976
Conservative 1976–1986
No overall control 1986–1994
Liberal Democrats 1994–1998
No overall control 1998–2007
Conservative 2007–2008
No overall control 2008–present



The role of mayor is largely ceremonial in Colchester. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 2000 have been:[16]

Councillor Party From To
Bill Frame Liberal Democrats 2000 2002
Colin Sykes Liberal Democrats 2002 2004
John Jowers Conservative 2004 2006
Robert Davidson Conservative 2006 2008
Anne Turrell Liberal Democrats 2008 16 Jun 2014
Martin Hunt Liberal Democrats 16 Jun 2014 10 May 2015
Paul Smith Liberal Democrats 27 May 2015 6 May 2018
Mark Cory Liberal Democrats 23 May 2018 26 May 2021
Paul Dundas Conservative 26 May 2021 8 May 2022
David King Liberal Democrats 22 May 2022



Following the 2024 council elections and subsequent party-resignations,[9] the composition of the council is:

Party Councillors
Conservative 19
Labour 14[a]
Liberal Democrats 14
Green 3
Independent 1
Total 51

The next election is due 7 May 2026.



The council is based at Colchester Town Hall on the High Street. The current building was completed in 1902 on a site which had been occupied by Colchester's main civic buildings since 1277.[17]



Since the last boundary changes in 2016 the council has comprised 51 councillors representing 17 wards, with each ward electing three councillors. Elections are held three years out of every four, choosing one councillor for each ward at a time to serve a four year term. In the fourth year of the cycle when there are no elections to the city council, elections for Essex County Council are held instead.[18]


Tiptree, one of the outlying settlements of the City of Colchester District
Great Horkesley, one of the many outlying villages of the City of Colchester District

According to the Office for National Statistics as of 2008, Colchester had a population of approximately 181,000.[19] Average life expectancy was 78.7 for males. and 83.3 for females.[20]

Based on ethnic groups, predominantly of 92% of the population is White (87.5% British, 0.7% Irish and 3.8% Other White), Asians were the second largest making up 3.6% (0.8% Indian, 0.2% Pakistani, 0.2% Bangladeshi and 1% Chinese, other 1.4%), Black people constituted 1.4% (0.3% Caribbean, 1% African, 0.1% other), those of mixed race made up 1.8%, 0.6% were Arab and there were 0.4% from other ethnic groups.[21]

In the 2011 census, 57.7% identified themselves as Christian, while 31.4% had no affiliation to a religion. Of other religions, 1.6% identified as Muslim, 0.7% Hindu, 0.6% Buddhist, 0.2% Jewish, 0.1% Sikh, 0.5% others, and 7.3% did not answer.[22] There are more than 100 churches located in Colchester: other religious places of worship include the Colchester Islamic Cultural Association and the Jewish Community Synagogue.



There are 35 civil parishes in the district. The former Colchester Municipal Borough is an unparished area (subject to some adjustments since 1974 to that area's boundaries with neighbouring parishes).[23] The parish councils of Wivenhoe and West Mersea take the style "town council". Some of the smaller parishes are grouped together to share a parish council: Abberton and Langenhoe Parish Council covers those two parishes, and the Winstred Hundred Parish Council covers the four parishes of Great and Little Wigborough, Peldon, Salcott, and Virley. The two parishes of Layer Breton and Layer Marney have parish meetings rather than parish councils due to their small populations.[24]


  1. ^ a b Including 5 Labour Co-op councillors.


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2021). "2021 Census Area Profile – Colchester Local Authority (E07000071)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  2. ^ Cooper, Janet; Elrington, C. R., eds. (1994). "Late Iron-Age and Roman Colchester". A History of the County of Essex: Volume 9, the Borough of Colchester. London: Victoria County History. pp. 2–18. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  3. ^ Cooper, Janet; Elrington, C. R., eds. (1994). "Medieval Colchester: Borough government". A History of the County of Essex: Volume 9, the Borough of Colchester. London: Victoria County History. pp. 48–57. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  4. ^ "Colchester Municipal Borough". A Vision of Britain through Time. GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  5. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 31 May 2023
  6. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1973/551, retrieved 31 May 2023
  7. ^ "District Councils and Boroughs". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 28 March 1974. Retrieved 16 January 2012.
  8. ^ "Crown Office - The Gazette". 29 September 2022. The Late QUEEN was pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 5 September 2022 to ordain that the Borough of Colchester shall have the status of a City.
  9. ^ a b Deady, Elliot (30 May 2024). "Colchester councillor Lesley Scott-Boutell quits Lib Dems". Daily Gazette (Colchester). Retrieved 3 June 2024.
  10. ^ "Colchester Borough Council appoints new Chief Executive". BBC News. 21 December 2021. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  11. ^ "Local Government Act 1972", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1972 c. 70, retrieved 31 May 2023
  12. ^ Dedman, Simon (24 May 2023). "Colchester: Power-sharing ends between Labour and Lib Dems". BBC News. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  13. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  14. ^ "Colchester". BBC News Online. 19 April 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  15. ^ Wilkin, Chris (11 July 2007). "Colchester: Lib Dems furious at pair's defection to the Tories". Daily Gazette. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  16. ^ "Council minutes". Colchester Borough Council. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  17. ^ Baggs, A. P.; Board, Beryl; Crummy, Philip; Dove, Claude; Durgan, Shirley; Goose, N. R.; Pugh, R. B.; Studd, Pamela; Thornton, C. C. (1994). "'Municipal buildings', in A History of the County of Essex: Volume 9, the Borough of Colchester, ed. Janet Cooper and C R Elrington". London: British History Online. pp. 274–277. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  18. ^ "The Colchester (Electoral Changes) Order 2015", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 2015/1859, retrieved 4 June 2023
  19. ^ Colchester Resident Population ONS. Retrieved on 2010-03-07.
  20. ^ Colchester Life Expectancy ONS. Retrieved on 2010-03-07.
  21. ^ "Neighbourhood Statistics". Office for National Statistics (ONS). Retrieved 2012-12-22.
  22. ^ "2011 Census: Religion, local authorities in England and Wales". Office for National Statistics (ONS). Retrieved 2012-12-22.
  23. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  24. ^ "Parish and Town Councils". Colchester City Council. Retrieved 5 June 2023.

51°53′19″N 0°54′13″E / 51.88861°N 0.90361°E / 51.88861; 0.90361