Worthing Borough Council

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Worthing Borough Council
Coat of arms or logo
Founded1 April 1974
Preceded byWorthing Municipal Council
Henna Chowdhury, Labour
since May 2022
Rebecca Cooper, Labour
since May 2022
Leader of the Opposition
Kevin Jenkins, Conservative
since 2022
Chief Executive
Dr Catherine Howe
Seats37 councillors
Worthing Borough Council composition
Political groups
Administration (23)
  Labour (23)
Opposition (14)
  Conservative (13)
  Liberal Democrats (1)
Joint committees
Various joint committees of Adur and Worthing Councils
Greater Brighton City Board
First past the post
Last election
2 May 2019 (11 councillors)
6 May 2021 (13 councillors)
5 May 2022 (14 councillors)
Next election
4 May 2023 (11 councillors)
May 2024 (13 councillors)
May 2026 (13 councillors)
"Ex terra copiam e mari salutem"
(Latin for "From the land plenty and from the sea health")
Meeting place
Worthing Town Hall - geograph.org.uk - 1717402.jpg
Worthing Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing

Worthing Borough Council is a district council in the county of West Sussex, based in the borough of Worthing. The borough council was created in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972 out of the existing Worthing Municipal Council, which also had borough status. It forms the lower tier of local government in Worthing, responsible for local services such as housing, planning, leisure and tourism. Since 2014 it has been a constituent council of the Greater Brighton City Region.[1]

It is composed of 37 councillors, three for each of 11 electoral wards and two each for the electoral wards of Durrington and Northbrook wards. The council is currently led by the Labour Party, who have 23 councillors; the opposition consists of 13 Conservative councillors, and one Liberal Democrat councillor. Dr Catherine Howe is the chief executive. Many of the council's staff are based at Worthing Town Hall.


Worthing Town Commissioners (1803–1865)[edit]

The early town was run by 72 town commissioners following the Worthing Town Improvement Act of 1803. The first chairman of the commissioners was Timothy Shelley, who chaired the first meeting at the Nelson Inn on South Street.[2] Commissioners were elected by ratepayers rather than the general population of the town. Their remit was to raise rates for the purpose of providing pavements, lighting, the disposal of sewage and a local police force. Following further Acts in 1809 and 1821 further powers were given to commissioners, who established a market between Market Street and Ann Street in 1810.[3] Further activities included laying down, widening, and paving streets and building a new road from Worthing to South Lancing.[4]

From 1812, town commissioners met at the Royal George at the corner of Market Street[5] and George Street until Worthing's first purpose-built town hall was built in 1835.[2]

Worthing Board of Health (1865–1890)[edit]

The Worthing Local Board of Health replaced the commissioners as Worthing's local government in 1852.[6]

Worthing Town Council (1890–1974)[edit]

In 1890 Worthing and the new town of West Worthing were incorporated by charter as the borough of Worthing. Six aldermen and 18 councillors, including the mayor, at first represented five wards. In 1902 the borough of Worthing expanded to include parts of Broadwater and West Tarring. In 1929 the borough of Worthing expanded to include Goring and Durrington and in 1933 the borough of Worthing expanded again to include the west of Sompting and the south of Findon.

Alfred Cortis was Worthing's first mayor.[7] One notable councillor was Frederick Linfield, who was one of the first councillors when Worthing was incorporated as a borough in 1890 and was mayor of Worthing twice, from 1906 to 1908. Linfield went on to become Liberal MP for Mid Bedfordshire.

In 1910 Ellen Chapman became Worthing's first woman councillor and one of the first women councillors in the UK. She subsequently became the first female Mayor of Worthing in 1920.[7]

The Labour Party first put up candidates in Worthing in 1919, and its first councillor, Charles Barber, was elected to Broadwater ward in 1922.[8] Worthing was the first town in the UK to establish a branch of the conservative Middle Class Union, largely made up, in Worthing, of retired army personnel. An MCU candidate, Colonel Connolly, was elected in 1921. The elections of Connolly and Barber brought about an end to the tradition in Worthing of non-party participation in elections.[9]

On 31 March 1930, Charles Bentinck Budd was elected to the Offington ward of the West Sussex County Council. Later that year, Budd, who lived at Greenville, Grove Road, was elected to the town council as the independent representative of Ham Ward in Broadwater.[10] At an election meeting on 16 October 1933, Budd revealed he was now a member of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). He was duly re-elected and the national press reported that Worthing was the first town in the country to elect a fascist councillor.[11] Street confrontations took place culminating on 9 October 1934 when anti-fascist protesters met outside a blackshirt rally at the Pavilion Theatre in what became known as the Battle of South Street.[12]

Between 1933 and 1939 the Worthing Corporation purchased 1,000 acres (405 ha) of downland to the north of Worthing, which forms the Worthing Downland Estate.[13] In 1939 the Worthing Corporation purchased 72 acres (29 ha) acres of land at High Salvington. This land adjoined another 59 acres (24 ha) acres that were purchased around the same time.[14]

Worthing's new town hall was opened in 1933. The first Labour mayor, Charles Barber, was selected in 1936. After the 1950s the corporation had a Conservative majority.

Worthing Borough Council (1974 onwards)[edit]

The borough council was formed in 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972. The borough of Worthing became a district with borough status granted by a new charter. In 1976 30 councillors still represented 10 wards, but aldermen had been abolished.[5]

In 2017 Alex Bailey also became Director of Innovation and Infrastructure’ at the Coastal West Sussex NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, in addition to his role as Chief Executive of Worthing Borough Council and Adur District Council.[15]

On 18 July 2019,[16] Worthing Borough Council declared a climate emergency, which aims to see the council carbon-neutral by 2030.[17]

The Labour Party took control of the council for the first time in 2022.[18]

Joint administration with Adur District Council[edit]

Since 2008 Worthing Borough Council has worked in partnership with Adur District Council, as Adur and Worthing Councils, sharing a joint management structure, with a single Chief Executive.[19]


For electoral purposes, the borough is divided into 13 wards: Broadwater, Castle, Central, Durrington, Gaisford, Goring, Heene, Marine, Northbrook, Offington, Salvington, Selden, and Tarring. There are thirty-seven borough councillors with two councillors assigned to Durrington and Northbrook wards and three councillors assigned to each other ward.[20] The party composition of the council is 23 Labour, 13 Conservative, and 1 Liberal Democrat.

23 1 13
Labour LD Conservative

The highest non-elected official is the Chief Executive, Dr Catherine Howe, who is also the joint Chief Executive of Adur District Council.

Historical composition[edit]

Historical compositions are as follows:

Year Conservative Labour Lib Dems Green UKIP Independent
Current 13 23 1 0 0 0
2022 12 23 1 0 0 1
2021 19 15 3 0 0 0
2019 22 10 3 0 1 1
2018 28 5 2 0 1 1
2016 31 0 2 1 2 1
2015 29 0 5 1 1 1

Political control[edit]

Party in control Years
No overall control 1973 — 1976
Conservative 1976 — 1994
Liberal Democrats 1994 — 1999
Conservative 1999 — 2002
Liberal Democrats 2002 — 2003
No overall control 2003 — 2004
Conservative 2004 — 2021
No overall control
(Conservative administration)
2021 — 2022
Labour 2022 — present



The Borough consists of 13 wards, each of which is represented by three Councillors, except for Durrington and Northbrook wards which have two members each. Since boundaries were revised in 2002 these have been:

Ward 2019—23 term 2021—24 term 2022—26 term
Broadwater Dawn Smith (Labour) Cathy Glynn-Davies (Labour) Margaret Howard (Labour)
Castle Lionel Harman (Conservative) Sam Theodoridi (Labour and Co-operative) Ibsha Choudhury (Labour)
Central Sally Smith (Labour) Rosey Whorlow (Labour) James Deen (Labour)
Durrington Dan Coxhill (Conservative) Charles James (Conservative)
Gaisford Henna Chowdhury (Labour) John Turley (Labour) Dale Overton (Labour)
Goring Roy Barraclough (Conservative) Steve Waight (Conservative) Kevin Jenkins (Conservative)
Heene Helen Silman (Labour) Emma Taylor (Labour) Richard Mulholland (Labour)
Marine Vicki Wells (Labour[21]) Rebecca Cooper (Labour) Andy Whight (Labour)
Northbrook Russ Cochran (Independent[22]) Mike Barrett (Labour)
Offington Daniel Humphreys (Conservative) Elizabeth Sparkes (Conservative) Louise Murphy (Conservative)
Salvington Noel Atkins (Conservative) Richard Nowak (Conservative) Heather Mercer (Conservative)
Selden Carl Walker (Labour) Jon Roser (Labour) Dan Hermitage (Labour)
Tarring Martin McCabe (Labour[23]) Hazel Thorpe (Liberal Democrat) Rita Garner (Labour and Co-operative)

For full election results see Worthing Borough Council elections.

Leadership roles[edit]

A new mayor and deputy mayor are elected every May by the full Council at its annual general meeting. The current mayor is Councillor Henna Chowdhury, the borough's first female Muslim mayor and the borough's first Labour mayor since the 1930s. The mayor's duties are almost entirely ceremonial, although the mayor chairs meetings for the full Council.

The leader of the Council is Councillor Rebecca Cooper (Labour) and the Deputy Leader is Councillor Carl Walker (Labour).

The official opposition is the Conservative Party, with Councillor Kevin Jenkins leading that group.

Coat of arms[edit]

Worthing Borough Council's coat of arms was created in 1890 after the town received borough status

The borough's coat of arms includes three silver mackerel, a Horn of Plenty overflowing with corn and fruit on a cloth of gold, and the figure of a woman, considered likely to be Hygieia, the ancient Greek goddess of health, holding a snake. The images represent the health given from the seas, the fullness and riches gained from the earth and the power of healing.[24][25] Worthing's motto is the Latin Ex terra copiam e mari salutem, which translates as 'From the land plenty and from the sea health'.[24] The borough's coat of arms was created in 1890 after it received borough status. Designed by Mr TR Hyde the arms were only granted officially by the College of Arms in 1918 and were formally granted in 1919.

See also[edit]


  • Hare, Chris (1991). Historic Worthing: The Untold Story. Cassell Reference. ISBN 9780900075919.


  1. ^ "City Deal; The beginning of a great city region". Brighton and Hove City Council. 11 March 2019. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b Hare 1991, p. 1
  3. ^ "Worthing Municpial Borough". National Archives. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Worthing: Local government and public services | British History Online".
  5. ^ a b "Worthing: Local government and public services". Victoria County History, British History Online. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  6. ^ Hare 1991, p. 108
  7. ^ a b "Past Mayors and Honorary Aldermen and Alderwomen". Adur and Worthing Councils. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  8. ^ Hare 1991, p. 158
  9. ^ Hare 1991, p. 160
  10. ^ "The notorious Charles Bentinck Budd and the British Union of Fascists". www.worthingherald.co.uk.
  11. ^ "Charles Bentinck Budd".
  12. ^ "Friend of the Nazis who fate left behind". The Argus. 23 January 2003. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  13. ^ Feest, Freddie (2012). "Rapid expansion between World Wars". HA Design. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  14. ^ Municipal Journal, Volume 48, Part 2. 1939.
  15. ^ Poole, Oli (10 October 2017). "Council chief's secondment to reduce role to three days". Worthing Herald. Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  16. ^ "List of Councils Who Have Declared a Climate Emergency". Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Climate Emergency Declared By Adur & Worthing Councils". Adur and Worthing Councils. 10 July 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  18. ^ "Sussex election results 2022: Labour wins control of Worthing for first time". BBC News. 6 May 2022. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  19. ^ "Senior Management structure". Adur & Worthing Councils. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  20. ^ "Councillors: Worthing - find out about my councillor ..." Adur and Worthing Councils. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  21. ^ Gained from Conservative in 2021 by-election
  22. ^ Elected as Conservative
  23. ^ Elected as Liberal Democrat
  24. ^ a b "Arms of the Borough of Worthing". Worthing Borough Council website. Worthing Borough Council. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2009.
  25. ^ Young, Robert. "West Sussex". Civic Heraldry of England and Wales. Retrieved 16 April 2009.