Jump to content

North Somerset Council

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

North Somerset Council
Founded1 April 1996 (1996-04-01)
Preceded byAvon County Council
Woodspring District Council
Peter Crew,
since 14 May 2024[1]
Mike Bell,
Liberal Democrat
since 23 May 2023
Jo Walker
since January 2019[2]
Seats50 councillors
Political groups
Administration (35)
  Labour (10)
  Liberal Democrats (9)
  Green (8)
  Independent (5)
  Portishead Ind. (3)
Opposition (15)
  Conservative (13)
  Independent (2)
Length of term
Whole council elected every four years
Last election
4 May 2023
Next election
6 May 2027
Meeting place
Town Hall, Weston-super-Mare
Town Hall, Walliscote Grove Road, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1UJ

North Somerset Council is the local authority of North Somerset, a local government district in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England. The council is a unitary authority, being a district council which also performs the functions of a county council.

The council has been under no overall control since 2019. It is based at Weston-super-Mare Town Hall.



The district was formed in 1974 as Woodspring, one of six non-metropolitan districts in the new county of Avon. Woodspring was created from areas which had previously been in Somerset. Woodspring District Council was a lower-tier district council from 1974 until 1996, with Avon County Council providing county-level services.[3][4]

The county of Avon was abolished in 1996 and four unitary authorities established to govern the area. The way the 1996 change was implemented was to rename the Woodspring district as North West Somerset, and to create a non-metropolitan county of North West Somerset covering the district, but with no separate county council. Instead, the existing district council also took on the functions that legislation assigns to county councils, making it a unitary authority.[5] At the same time, the new district was transferred for ceremonial purposes back to Somerset, but as a unitary authority the council was always independent from Somerset County Council (which became a unitary authority itself in 2023).[6][7]

In July 1995 the council resolved to change the name from 'North West Somerset' to 'North Somerset' with effect from when the reforms came into effect on 1 April 1996. Some years later the government identified that the council's decision to rename in 1995 may not have been technically valid, and so in 2005 the council passed another resolution formally changing the name to put the matter beyond doubt.[8][9]

In 2017 the West of England Combined Authority was established comprising the other three former Avon unitary authorities (Bath and North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council). Initial proposals for the combined authority had sought to include North Somerset Council too, but the council decided in 2016 not to join the combined authority.[10]



North Somerset Council provides both county-level and district-level services. The whole area is also covered by civil parishes, which form a second tier of local government.[11]

Political control


The council has been under no overall control since 2019. Following the 2023 election a coalition of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Greens, local party the Portishead Independents and some of the independent councillors formed to run the council, led by Liberal Democrat councillor Mike Bell.[12]

The first election to Woodspring District Council was held in 1973, initially operating as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until the new arrangements took effect on 1 April 1974. Political control of the council since 1974 has been as follows:[13][14]

Woodspring District Council

Party in control Years
Conservative 1974–1995
No overall control 1995–1996

North Somerset Council (unitary authority)

Party in control Years
Liberal Democrats 1996–1999
Conservative 1999–2003
No overall control 2003–2007
Conservative 2007–2019
No overall control 2019–present



The leaders of the council since 2005 have been:[15]

Councillor Party From To
Alan Hockridge[16] Liberal Democrats 2005 14 Apr 2007
Nigel Ashton[17] Conservative 2007 14 May 2019
Don Davies Independent 14 May 2019 10 May 2022
Steve Bridger Independent 10 May 2022 12 May 2023
Mike Bell[12] Liberal Democrats 12 May 2023



Following the 2023 North Somerset Council election and a by-election in November 2023, the composition of the council was:

Party Councillors
Conservative 13
Labour 10
Liberal Democrats 9
Green 8
Independent 7
Portishead Independents 3
Total 50

Of the independent councillors, three sit in a group with the Liberal Democrats, one sits with the Portishead Independents, two sit with the Conservatives and the other does not belong to a group.[18] The next election is due in 2027.



Since the last boundary changes in 2015 the council has comprised 50 councillors representing 35 wards, with each ward electing one or two councillors. Elections are held every four years.[19]



The council is based at Weston-super-Mare Town Hall on Walliscote Grove Road. The building had been the headquarters of the old Weston-super-Mare Borough Council, one of Woodspring's predecessors, having been built in 1856 for the town's improvement commissioners, predecessors of the borough council. The building has substantial modern extensions.[20]


  1. ^ Hill, Amber (15 May 2024). "Cllr Peter Crew elected as new Chairperson of Council". Weston Mercury. Retrieved 14 July 2024.
  2. ^ Wright, Tom (17 October 2018). "New chief executive appointed by North Somerset Council". Weston Mercury. Retrieved 13 December 2023.
  3. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 3 March 2023
  4. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Names) Order 1973", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1973/551, retrieved 3 March 2023
  5. ^ "The Avon (Structural Change) Order 1995", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1995/493, retrieved 18 June 2024
  6. ^ "The Local Government Changes for England (Miscellaneous Provision) Regulations 1995", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1995/1748, retrieved 6 March 2024
  7. ^ "Lieutenancies Act 1997". legislation.gov.uk. The National Archives. 1997 c. 23. Retrieved 25 February 2024.
  8. ^ "Report to the Executive". 14 June 2005. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  9. ^ "Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Council". 28 June 2005. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  10. ^ Bridge, Thomas (8 June 2016). "North Somerset Council rejects £1bn devolution deal". LocalGov. Retrieved 15 July 2024.
  11. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 12 December 2023.
  12. ^ a b "Partnership Administration announced for North Somerset". North Somerset Council. 12 May 2023. Archived from the original on 14 May 2023. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  13. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2023.
  14. ^ "England council elections". BBC News Online. Retrieved 14 August 2011.
  15. ^ "Council minutes". North Somerset Council. Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  16. ^ "North Somerset council boss dies". BBC News. 16 April 2007. Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  17. ^ Angear, Simon (19 January 2018). "Council leader slams his own party for treating elderly 'without dignity'". Weston Mercury. Retrieved 17 June 2022.
  18. ^ "Your councillors by political grouping". North Somerset Council. Retrieved 13 December 2023.
  19. ^ "The North Somerset (Electoral Changes) Order 2014", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 2014/3291, retrieved 13 December 2023
  20. ^ Historic England. "The Town Hall (1138148)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 8 December 2020.