Isle of Wight Council
|Founded||1 April 1890|
Chair of the Council
Leader of the Council
|First past the post|
|6 May 2021|
|1 May 2025|
|County Hall, Newport|
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. 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. 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.
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. 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'. 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.
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.
|Party||Composition in May 2021||Composition in June 2023|
|Island Independent Network||2||2|
Main article: Isle of Wight Council elections
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. 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.
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.' Following this a new Conservaive-led administration was created, with Dave Stewart appointed as leader. A new ruling executive was formed, made up of five Conservatives, one UKIP member and three non-aligned members.
|Party in control||Years|
|Party in control||Years|
|No overall control||1998–2005|
|No overall control||2013–2017|
|No overall control||2021–present|
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".