Northumberland County Council

Coordinates: 55°09′13″N 1°41′03″W / 55.15361°N 1.68417°W / 55.15361; -1.68417
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Northumberland County Council
Arms of Northumberland County Council
Founded1 April 1889[a]
Preceded by
District councils
  • Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council
  • Blyth Valley Borough Council
  • Castle Morpeth Borough Council
  • Alnwick District Council
  • Tynedale District Council
  • Wansbeck District Council
Civic Head
Trevor Cessford,
since 4 May 2022[1]
Chairman of the Council
Barry Flux, Conservative
since 26 May 2021
Glen Sanderson,
since 23 Sep 2020[2]
Seats67 councillors
Northumberland County Council composition
Political groups
  Conservative (33)
Other parties
  Labour (20)
  Non Aligned (8)
  Liberal Democrats (4)
  Green (2)
First past the post
Last election
6 May 2021
Next election
Meeting place
County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF
Northumberland proper, as administered by the Council

Northumberland County Council is a unitary authority in North East England. The population of the non-metropolitan unitary authority at the 2011 census was 316,028.[3]


It was formed in 1889 as the council for the administrative county of Northumberland. The city of Newcastle upon Tyne was a county borough independent from the county council, although the county council still had its meeting place at the Moot Hall in the city, with its administrative offices in County Hall next door; the Castle Garth technically remaining under the control of the county council until 1981, when Morpeth became the new county town. Tynemouth subsequently also became a county borough in 1904, removing it from the administrative county.

The county was further reformed in 1974, becoming a non-metropolitan county and ceding further territory around the Newcastle conurbation to the new metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear. As part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England it became a unitary authority with the same boundaries, which disregarded the referendum held in 2005 in which the population voted against the forming of a unitary authority.[4]

Its elections have been in May 2008, 2013, 2017 and 2021 at four-yearly intervals, the expected length of office of each councillor.

Naming of the new unitary authority[edit]

Throughout 2008, the people of Northumberland were consulted about the new name of the unitary authority. The choice was between having the name of the incumbent county council as the name for the new unitary authority – Northumberland County Council or whether a brand new name should be given – Northumberland Council. Online polls were held and the votes of staff within the former district councils were collated and overall, the name of the incumbent county council was preferred on a ratio of nearly 2:1.[5]

On 17 December 2008 it was decided that the new name would be Northumberland County Council. The chairman of the council stated that:

Having considered the findings of this consultation, it has been decided to call the new authority Northumberland County Council. It is important to reiterate that whilst the single unitary will adopt the name of an existing council, this is emphatically not a County Council takeover. As of 1 April 2009, all existing Northumberland councils will be abolished to make way for a brand new organisation, with new vision, values, and behaviours.

Legally, however, the council remains the same body as before, simply assuming the functions of the districts.[6]

2017 drawing of straws[edit]

In the 2017 election, the South Blyth ward was decided by drawing lots, a rarely-used method to resolve an electroral tie.[7] That outcome cost the Conservatives a majority outcome.

Council leadership[edit]

Northumberland appoints a civic head each year, and separately appoints a business chair to preside over council meetings. This differs from most councils where these two ceremonial roles are performed by the same person. The civic head for 2022–2023 is Trevor Cessford, whilst the business chair since 2021 has been Barry Flux, both Conservatives. Political leadership is provided by the leader of the council, being Glen Sanderson since 2020.

Leader of the council and cabinet[edit]

Offices(s) Name
Leader of the Council

Leader of the Conservative Group

Glen Sanderson
Deputy Leader of the Council

Portfolio holder for Corporate Services Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group

Richard Wearmouth
Portfolio holder for Children and Young People Guy Renner-Thompson
Portfolio holder for Adults' Well-being Wendy Pattison
Portfolio holder for Business Wojciech Ploszaj
Portfolio holder for Community Services Colin Horncastle
Portfolio holder for Healthy Lives Jeff Watson
Portfolio holder for Local Services John Riddle

Leader of the official opposition and shadow cabinet[edit]

Offices(s) Name
Leader of the Official Opposition

Leader of the Labour Group

Scott Dickinson
Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition

Deputy Leader of the Labour Group

Elizabeth Simpson
Chairman of Northumberland Labour Group Kath Nisbet


Following the election of 2021, Northumberland County Council the Conservative Party gained majority control of the Council. Following a Liberal Democrat gain in a December 2021 by election, the Conservatives lost majority control.[8][9][10]

Affiliation Members
Conservatives 33
Labour 20
Independents 8
Liberal Democrats 4
Greens 2

Other uses[edit]

Eurostat statistical area[edit]

For Eurostat purposes the area under the jurisdiction of Northumberland County Council is a NUTS 3 region (code UKC21) and is one of six boroughs or unitary districts that comprise the "Northumberland and Tyne and Wear" NUTS 2 region.


  1. ^ Became unitary authority 1 April 2009.


  1. ^ "Council minutes, 4 May 2022" (PDF). Northumberland County Council. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  2. ^ "Council minutes, 23 September 2020" (PDF). Northumberland County Council. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  3. ^ "Non-metropolitan unitary population 2011". Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Northumberland County Council". Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  5. ^ "Northumberland County Council". Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  6. ^ "The Northumberland (Structural Change) Order 2008". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Tories denied majority on council by one seat after drawing straws as a tiebreaker". 6 May 2017.
  8. ^ "County Council election results". Northumberland County Council. 7 May 2021.
  9. ^ "Northumberland County Council". BBC News. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  10. ^ "Find Councillor". Northumberland County Council. Retrieved 3 May 2022.

External links[edit]

55°09′13″N 1°41′03″W / 55.15361°N 1.68417°W / 55.15361; -1.68417