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Kent County Council

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Kent County Council
Coat of arms
Council logo
Bryan Sweetland,
since 23 May 2024[1]
Roger Gough,
since 17 October 2019
Amanda Beer
since July 2023
Seats81 councillors
Political groups
Administration (59)
  Conservative (59)
Other parties (22)
  Labour (7)
  Liberal Democrat (6)
  Green Party (5)
  S&G Residents (1)
  Swale Independents (1)
  Thanet Independent (1)
  Independent (1)
Length of term
4 years
Last election
6 May 2021
Next election
1 May 2025
Meeting place
County Hall, County Road, Maidstone, ME14 1XQ

Kent County Council is a county council that governs the non-metropolitan county of Kent in England. The non-metropolitan county is smaller than the ceremonial county, which additionally includes the unitary authority of Medway. Kent County Council is the upper tier of elected local government, below which are 12 district councils, and around 300 town and parish councils. The county council has 81 elected councillors. It is one of the largest local authorities in England in terms of population served and the largest local authority of its type.[notes 1] The council is based at County Hall in Maidstone. It has been under Conservative majority control since 1997.



Elected county councils were created in 1889 under the Local Government Act 1888, taking over many administrative functions that had previously been performed by unelected magistrates at the quarter sessions. The areas covered by the new county councils were termed administrative counties. In Kent the administrative county differed from the historic county in a few places:[2]

The first elections to the county council were held in January 1889 and it formally came into being on 1 April 1889, on which day it held its first official meeting at the Sessions House in Maidstone. John Farnaby Lennard was appointed the first chairman of the council.[3]

The county council's duties at first were few, but gradually it absorbed school boards, the rural highway boards and the boards of guardians. The county council adopted the Sessions House as its meeting place.[4]

In 1965, the London Government Act 1963 abolished the existing county of London and replaced it with a larger administrative area called Greater London, which took over the Bexley and Bromley areas from the administrative county of Kent. In 1974, the Local Government Act 1972 saw Kent re-classified as a non-metropolitan county and it gained the formerly independent county borough of Canterbury.[5] Until 1974 the lower tier of local government had comprised numerous boroughs, urban districts and rural districts. As part of the 1974 reforms, the lower tier was reorganised into fourteen non-metropolitan districts.[6]

In 1998 the districts of Gillingham and Rochester-upon-Medway were removed from the non-metropolitan county of Kent to become a new unitary authority called Medway, whilst remaining part of the ceremonial county of Kent.[7]

In November 2022, the county council stated it, alongside Hampshire County Council, may face bankruptcy within 12 months due to austerity cuts.[8]



Kent County Council provides county-level services. District-level services are provided by the twelve district councils:

Much of the county is also covered by civil parishes, which form a third tier of local government.[9][6]

Political control


The county council has been under Conservative majority control since 1997.

Political control of the council since the 1974 reforms has been as follows:[10]

Party in control Years
Conservative 1974–1993
No overall control 1993–1997
Conservative 1997–present



The leaders of the council since 1974 have been:[11]

Councillor Party From To
John Grugeon Conservative 1974 1982
Bobby Neame[12] Conservative 1982 1984
Tony Hart Conservative 1984 1992
Brenda Trench Conservative 1992 1993
John Ovenden Labour 1993 1997
Sandy Bruce-Lockhart[13] Conservative May 1997 12 Oct 2005
Paul Carter Conservative 12 Oct 2005 17 Oct 2019
Roger Gough Conservative 17 Oct 2019



Following the 2021 election and subsequent by-elections and changes of allegiance up to May 2024 the composition of the council was as follows:[14][15]

Party Councillors
Conservative 59
Labour 7
Liberal Democrats 6
Green 5
Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents' Association 1
Swale Independents 1
Thanet Independents 1
Independent 1
Total 81

The Greens, Swale Independent and Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents' Association councillors sit together as the "Green and Independents" group.[16] The next election is due in 2025.



Since the last boundary changes in 2019 the council has comprised 81 councillors representing 72 electoral divisions, with each division electing one or two councillors. Elections are held every four years.[17]



The council is based at County Hall, a complex of buildings on County Road in Maidstone which incorporates the old Sessions House of 1824, which had been the meeting place of the quarter sessions which preceded the county council.[4] The council has various other buildings around the county as well.[18]



The council is responsible for public services such as education, transport, strategic planning, emergency services, social services, public safety and waste disposal.[19]



Kent Top Travel[20] was owned by Kent County Council, and was established by them in 2005. It operated the council's bus network.[21] It was argued that its existence stimulated competition. It also operated a coach charter fleet. The majority of Kent Top Travel's route portfolio comprised rural, evening and Sunday services won under competitive tender from Kent County Council and other local authorities in open competition with private bus operators. Kent Top Travel operated Canterbury City Council's park & ride service from October 2008 until 2013.[22][23] Kent Top Travel operated both single and double deck buses as well as charter coaches. Buses were painted in a white and green livery, the Canterbury park & ride fleet silver and green. Coaches were painted both white & red, and yellow.

Following an independent report criticising Kent County Council's trading companies, in December 2012 it was decided to close Kent Top Travel once its existing contracts expired.[21][24][25] Kent Top Travel ceased trading on 1 October 2013.[26]

Council structure


The Council is structured as follows:[27]

County Council

The County Council is made up of 81 elected county councillors. The full council meets seven times a year to agree the council's Constitution and amendments to it, appoint the Leader, and approve the policy framework and budget (including the level of Council Tax).


The cabinet is made up of ten county councillors. The cabinet is responsible for the strategic thinking and decisions that steer how the council is run. The cabinet meets monthly and takes decisions collectively.

Local Boards

Local boards are local community groups that hold regular public meetings across Kent, so that the people of Kent can voice issues that affect their community. They also allocate funding to local projects. There are 12 local boards in Kent, and every county councillor is required to be a member of one local board.

The work of the Council is organized into directorates:

Strategic and Corporate Services

supports the work of the directorates by providing specialist expertise and strategic direction. The department also leads and co-ordinates major change and organisational development.: It manages services that include human resources, finance, governance, law and democracy, strategic commissioning, property and infrastructure, information technology, media and communications, consultation and engagement, customer relations including gateways and contact centre, business intelligence and policy.

Children, Young People and Education

It combines Education services with universal and targeted services for children and young people designed to reduce demand for specialist services, also provided in this directorate. By focusing on prevention and early intervention, their aim is to reduce demand in specialist children's social services by helping families earlier, improving parenting skills and the health and educational outcomes of young children, ensuring they are school ready. KCC will intervene earlier to support families in crisis through area based working and joined up teams providing a more seamless service and better working arrangements with partner organisations.: This encompasses the Kent Youth County Council which provides the young people of the county to have a voice on the issues that matter to young people aged 11–18. Successes of the youth council include the introduction of the Kent Freedom Pass, which allows unlimited travel around Kent for a year at the cost of £100. The Youth County Council holds its elections every November, and four young people from each of the 12 districts are elected to a two-year term. The Kent Youth County Council is also affiliated with the UK Youth Parliament and British Youth Council.[28][29]

Adult Social Care and Health

works with people who need care and support, providing Adult Social Care Services and Public Health Services.[30]

Growth, Environment and Transport

This includes strategic responsibility for the future of the county in terms of planning, economic development, transport policy, and major transport improvement schemes, waste disposal and recycling services. In addition to a range of leisure and cultural facilities including the Turner Contemporary; country parks; libraries; and enforcement services including trading standards and community safety.[31]

Joint arrangements with Medway


Kent County Council co-operates with the unitary Medway Council in many ways, for instance in the Kent and Medway Local Plan, and together they run joint agencies. Kent is combined with Medway for the purposes of representation in Parliament. The combined area elects 17 MPs, of whom 14 represent seats entirely within the Kent County Council area and another whose constituency is in both Kent and Medway.

See also



  1. ^ With a population of 1,576,100 at the 2021 census, Kent is the most populous non-metropolitan county in a two tier arrangement.


  1. ^ Finlay, Simon (24 May 2024). "Cllr Bryan Sweetland takes over as chairman of Kent County Council from Cllr Gary Cooke". Kent Online. Retrieved 7 July 2024.
  2. ^ Local Government Act 1888
  3. ^ "Kent County Council". Kentish Express and Ashford News. 6 April 1889. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  4. ^ a b Historic England. "The Old Sessions House, Maistone (1086392)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Local Government Act 1972", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1972 c. 70, retrieved 22 October 2023
  6. ^ a b "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 22 October 2023
  7. ^ "The Kent (Borough of Gillingham and City of Rochester upon Medway) (Structural Change) Order 1996", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1996/1876, retrieved 22 October 2023
  8. ^ Harris, Mary (14 November 2022). "Leader warns Kent County Council could face bankruptcy in a year". KentLive. Retrieved 14 November 2022.
  9. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  10. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Council minutes". Kent County Council. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
  12. ^ Protz, Roger (2 December 2019). "Robert Neame obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
  13. ^ "Sir Sandy quits as council leader". BBC News. 12 September 2005. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
  14. ^ Austin, Ben (9 March 2024). "Kent County Council's Trevor Shonk leaves Conservative Party to join Thanet Independents". Kent Online. Retrieved 12 May 2024.
  15. ^ Finlay, Simon (26 March 2024). "Cllr Mike Whiting has been suspended from the Conservative Party after drink driving conviction". Kent Online. Retrieved 12 May 2024.
  16. ^ "County councillors". Kent County Council. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  17. ^ "The Kent (Electoral Changes) Order 2016", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 2016/658
  18. ^ "Our offices". Kent County Council. Retrieved 22 October 2023.
  19. ^ Executive summary
  20. ^ Companies House extract company no 5242900 Kent Top Temps Limited
  21. ^ a b Kent takes axe to council bus operation Buses 13 January 2013
  22. ^ Park & Ride Contract Canterbury City Council
  23. ^ Kent Top Travel takes on Canterbury park Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine Bus & Coach Professional 24 October 2008
  24. ^ End of road for Kent County Council bus company Kent Top Travel KentOnline 13 December 2012
  25. ^ Kent County Council to abandon Kent Top Travel Coach & Bus Week issue 1092 19 June 2013 page 5
  26. ^ Thank you for visiting the Kent Top Travel website Kent Top Travel 18 August 2013
  27. ^ Council structure
  28. ^ "Kent Youth County Council". Kent.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 6 September 2008. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  29. ^ Porn and Sex » Archived 1 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Ukyp.org (24 March 2013). Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  30. ^ "ASCH Directorate Business Plan 2017-18" (PDF). Kent.gov.uk. 5 April 2017. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  31. ^ "Kent Leadership | Kent County Council - Structure of KCC". www.kentleadership.co.uk. Retrieved 2 May 2017.