Dover District

Coordinates: 51°07′48″N 1°18′40″E / 51.130°N 1.311°E / 51.130; 1.311
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Dover District
Shakespeare Cliff and Dover town skyline and coastline
Shakespeare Cliff and Dover town skyline and coastline
Coat of arms of the district council
Dover shown within Kent
Dover shown within Kent
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
RegionSouth East England
Non-metropolitan countyKent
StatusNon-metropolitan district
Admin HQDover
Incorporated1 April 1974
 • TypeNon-metropolitan district council
 • BodyDover District Council
 • LeadershipLeader & Cabinet
 • MPsNatalie Elphicke (Labour)
Craig Mackinlay (Conservative)
 • Total121.56 sq mi (314.84 km2)
 • Rank116th (of 296)
 • Total117,473
 • Rank206th (of 296)
 • Density970/sq mi (370/km2)
Ethnicity (2021)
 • Ethnic groups
Religion (2021)
 • Religion
Time zoneUTC0 (UTC)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code29UE (ONS)
E07000108 (GSS)
OS grid referenceTR315415

Dover is a local government district in Kent, England. It is named after its largest town, the port town of Dover. The council is based in Whitfield on the outskirts of Dover. The district also covers the towns of Deal, Sandwich and Walmer as well as the surrounding rural areas.

The district borders Thanet District to the north, the City of Canterbury to the west, and Folkestone and Hythe District to the south-west. To the south and east, it faces the Strait of Dover.


The district was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. It covered the whole area of four former districts and part of a fifth, all of which were abolished at the same time:[2]

The new district was named Dover after its largest town.[3]


Dover District Council
Gordon Cowan,
since 17 May 2023
Kevin Mills,
since 17 May 2023
Nadeem Aziz
since April 2002[4]
Political groups
Administration (17)
  Labour (17)

Other parties (15)

  Conservatives (14)
  Independent (1)
Last election
4 May 2023
Last election
Meeting place
Council Offices, Honeywood Close, White Cliffs Business Park, Whitfield, Dover, CT16 3PJ

Dover District Council provides district-level services. County-level services are provided by Kent County Council.[5] The whole district is also covered by civil parishes, which form a third tier of local government.[6]

Political control[edit]

Since the 2023 election the council has been under Labour majority control.[7]

The first election to the council 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:[8][9]

Party in control Years
Conservative 1974–1991
No overall control 1991–1995
Labour 1995–1999
No overall control 1999–2007
Conservative 2007–2023
Labour 2023-present


The leaders of the council (formally the chair of the policy and resources committee prior to 2001) have been:[10][11]

Councillor Party From To
Alexander Greenway-Stanley Conservative 1974 1976
Raymond Norley Conservative 1976 1977
Alexander Greenway-Stanley Conservative 1977 1978
Gwladys Payne Conservative 1978 1986
Graham Forster Conservative 1986 Sep 1986
Paul Watkins Conservative Sep 1986 1989
George Tyler Conservative 1989 Oct 1989
Christopher Smith Conservative Oct 1989 1992
Paul Watkins Conservative 1992 Dec 1993
Tony Sansum Labour Dec 1993 Nov 1995
Terry Birkett Labour Nov 1995 1998
Reg Hansell[12] Labour Nov 1998 1999
Terry Birkett[13] Labour 1999 2001
Peter Wells Labour 2001 14 May 2003
Paul Watkins[14] Conservative 14 May 2003 30 Sep 2017
Keith Morris[15] Conservative 18 Oct 2017 14 Oct 2019
Trevor Bartlett Conservative 30 Oct 2019 17 May 2023
Kevin Mills Labour 17 May 2023


Following the 2023 election, the composition of the council was:[16]

Party Councillors
Labour 17
Conservative 14
Independent 1
Total 32

The next election is due in 2027.


The council's main offices are at the White Cliffs Business park in the parish of Whitfield, to the north of the town of Dover itself.[17]


Since the last boundary changes in 2019 the council has comprised 32 councillors representing 17 wards, with each ward electing one, two or three councillors. Elections are held every four years.[18]


The northern boundary of the district is the River Stour; on its western side is the district of Canterbury; to the south the parish of Capel-le-Ferne; and to the east the Straits of Dover. The southern part of the latter is the point where the North Downs meets the sea, at the White Cliffs of Dover. Further north along the coast, from Deal onwards, the land is at sea level, where the River Stour enters the sea by a circuitous route. It is here, on the sand-dunes, that the Royal St George's Golf Club, founded in 1887, and of international repute, is situated.

In the district are industrial remains of the erstwhile Kent coalfield, situated around Tilmanstone and Betteshanger. Half of the underwater section of the Channel Tunnel is under British Sovereignty and thus part of the district.


There are 35 civil parishes covering the whole district. The parish councils of Deal, Dover, Sandwich and Walmer take the style "town council".[19]


Deal Timeball is a Victorian maritime Greenwich Mean Time signal located on the roof of a waterfront four-storey tower. It was established in 1855 by the Astronomer Royal George Biddell Airy in collaboration with Charles V. Walker.

Crossing Dover district are the Roman roads of Watling Street and that leading from Richborough. Today the main road, the A2, closely follows Watling Street to Dover.


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2021). "2021 Census Area Profile – Dover Local Authority (E07000108)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  2. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972",, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 31 May 2023
  3. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973",, The National Archives, SI 1973/551, retrieved 31 May 2023
  4. ^ "Meet the board". Visit Kent. Retrieved 25 June 2023.
  5. ^ "Local Government Act 1972",, The National Archives, 1972 c. 70, retrieved 31 May 2023
  6. ^ "Election maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 6 June 2023.
  7. ^ Esson, Daniel (17 May 2023). "New Labour leader of Dover District Council reveals plan for cabinet". Kent Online. Retrieved 25 June 2023.
  8. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  9. ^ "Dover". BBC News Online. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  10. ^ "Past leaders of the council". Dover District Council. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  11. ^ "Council minutes". Dover District Council. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  12. ^ "Council minutes, 21 February 2007" (PDF). Dover District Council. Retrieved 27 July 2022. Councillor Reg Hansell...
  13. ^ "Press release: Foot and Mouth Disease" (PDF). Dover District Council. 27 March 2001. Retrieved 27 July 2022. Councillor Terry Birkett, Leader of the Council...
  14. ^ Robson, Beth (20 September 2017). "Dover District Council leader Cllr Paul Watkins to retire and says now is right time". Kent Online. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  15. ^ Lennon, Sam (14 October 2019). "Dover District Council leader Keith Morris resigns". Kent Online. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  16. ^ "Local elections 2023: live council results for England". The Guardian.
  17. ^ "Contact us". Dover District Council. Retrieved 27 July 2022.
  18. ^ "The Dover (Electoral Changes) Order 2019",, The National Archives, SI 2019/124, retrieved 25 June 2023
  19. ^ "Town and parish council contact details". Dover District Council. Retrieved 25 June 2023.

External links[edit]

51°07′48″N 1°18′40″E / 51.130°N 1.311°E / 51.130; 1.311