Isle of Wight Council
Founded1 April 1890
Preceded by
District councils
  • Medina Borough Council
  • South Wight Borough Council
Chair of the Council
Claire Critchison, Green Party
since 18 May 2022[1]
Leader of the Council
Lora Peacey-Wilcox, Independent
since 26 May 2021[2]
Seats39 councillors
Political groups
  Independent (12)
  Green Party (2)
  Island Independent Network (2)
  Our Island (1)
Other Parties
  Conservative (17)
  Liberal Democrats (3)
  Labour (1)
  Vectis Party (1)
First past the post
Last election
6 May 2021
Next election
1 May 2025
Meeting place
County Hall at Newport
County Hall, Newport
Website Edit this at Wikidata

The Isle of Wight Council, known until 1995 as Isle of Wight County Council, is the unitary authority which governs the county of the Isle of Wight in South East England. The council is controlled by the Alliance Group, a coalition of Independent, Green, Independent Network, and Our Island councillors. Its headquarters is County Hall in Newport.

Between 1974 and 1995 the county was a two-tier metropolitan county, governed by the county council and two district councils. In 1995 the districts were abolished and the county council assumed their functions. The Liberal Party and its successor, the Liberal Democrats, was the largest party on the council in 1973 and formed majority administrations between 1981 to 1998. Since 1998 the Conservative Party has been the largest on the council, and formed majority administrations between 1977-81, 2005-13, and 2017-21.


County councils were first introduced in England and Wales with from 1889 as a result of the Local Government Act 1888, taking over administrative functions until then carried out by the unelected Quarter Sessions.[3] The Isle of Wight was governed by Hampshire County Council for its first year, until a separate county council was established on 1 April 1890.

The council's first headquarters was the former Swan Hotel and adjacent houses in High Street, Newport.[4] A new building, designed in the Neo-Georgian style by Gutteridge and Gutteridge, was built on the same site and opened in October 1938. An extension was built on its east side in 1969.[5]

In 1974, as part of wider changes to local government in England, the county's six districts were amalgamated into two, Medina and South Wight.[6] On 1 April 1995, following recommendations made by the Local Government Commission for England appointed in 1992, the two district councils were abolished and the county council assumed their functions, becoming a unitary authority and being renamed 'Isle of Wight Council'.[7] The reformed council was the first unitary authority in England. The council had 48 councillors until the 2009 local elections, when the number was reduced to 39.[8]

Current council

After the 2021 Isle of Wight Council Election the Conservatives remained the largest party on the council but lost their majority, against the national trend for that party. An administration was formed by a coalition of the eight independent, Green, Island Independent Network, and Our Island councillors, and their leader was elected as leader of the council with support from the two Liberal Democrat and Vectis Party councillors.

In May 2023, Cllr Lilley, elected as an independent in Ryde, joined the Liberal Democrat Group.[9]

Party Composition in May 2021[10] Composition in June 2023
Conservative 18 16
Independent 13 13
Island Independent Network 2 2
Green 2 1
Labour 1 1
Liberal Democrats 1 3
Our Island 1 1
Vectis Party 1 1

Electoral history

Main article: Isle of Wight Council elections

A former logo of the county council

Prior to 1998, the Liberals and then Liberal Democrats had dominated the council. Between 1998 and 2005 it was under no overall control and ruled by a coalition of Lib Dems and Independents.

The 2005 council elections led to significant change as the Conservatives won a majority, winning seats primarily from the Lib Dems and Independents.[11] In the 2009 elections the Conservatives to retained their majority by securing 24 of the revised 40 seats; however this was the only Conservative council in the UK that lost seats.[12]

In 2013 the Island Independents gained 20 seats, one short of a majority, with the Conservatives only reduced to 15 seats. By January 2015 the Island Independents had lost four councillors through defections, and the Conservatives one. The then-leader of the council, Ian Stephens, stood down that month in order to stand for election to the Isle of Wight UK Parliament constituency. Jonathan Bacon, representing Bembridge, Brading and St. Helens, was elected unopposed as the new Leader. He stood down, along with deputy leader Steve Stubbings, in January 2017 citing 'the unwillingness of government to lift a finger to help and the preference for too many elected members to act negatively rather than try to help.'[13] Following this a new Conservaive-led administration was created, with Dave Stewart appointed as leader.[14] A new ruling executive was formed, made up of five Conservatives, one UKIP member and three non-aligned members.[15]

Council control

Non-metropolitan county

Party in control Years
Independent 1973–1977
Conservative 1977–1981
Liberal 1981–1985
Alliance 1985–1989
Liberal Democrats 1989–1995

Unitary authority

Party in control Years
Liberal Democrats 1995–1998
No overall control 1998–2005
Conservative 2005–2013
No overall control 2013–2017
Conservative 2017–2021
No overall control 2021–present

Coat of arms

Main articles: Coat of arms of the Isle of Wight and Flag of the Isle of Wight

The Coat of arms of the Isle of Wight was granted to the County Council in 1938. The shield shows a representation of Carisbrooke Castle, which was the historic seat of many island governors, surrounded by three gold anchors. At the bottom is the island's motto "All this beauty is of God".

See also


  1. ^ "Lora Peacey Wilcox: Profile of new the Isle of Wight council leader". On the Wight. 26 May 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  2. ^ "New Chair and Vice Chair at Isle of Wight council". On the Wight. 26 May 2021. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  3. ^ John Edwards, ”County” in Chambers's Encyclopedia (London: George Newnes, 1955), pp.189–191
  4. ^ County Hall history at, accessed 2 May 2020
  5. ^ David Wharton Lloyd, Nikolaus Pevsner The Isle of Wight (Yale University Press, 2006, ISBN 978-0300107333), pp. 177-178
  6. ^ "The English Non-Metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972, part 21". Retrieved 22 June 2023.
  7. ^ The Isle of Wight (Structural Change) Order 1994, SI 1994/1210, at, accessed 4 May 2020
  8. ^ "The Isle of Wight (Electoral Changes) Order 2008". Retrieved 22 June 2023.
  9. ^ "Isle of Wight power shift: Cllr Michael Lilley bids farewell to Alliance Group". 9 May 2023. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  10. ^ "Members". Isle of Wight Council.
  11. ^ "Pledge to fulfil election promises". Isle of Wight County Press. Archived from the original on 4 April 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  12. ^ "Tories surge back in Island polls". Isle of Wight County Press. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  13. ^ "Shock resignation of Isle of Wight Council leader and deputy". Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  14. ^ "New leader for Isle of Wight Council". Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  15. ^ "New council Executive announced". Retrieved 24 January 2017.