Southend-on-Sea City Council
since 11 May 2023
since 18 May 2023
since October 2022
|4 May 2023|
|Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, SS2 6ER|
Southend-on-Sea City Council is the local authority of the Southend-on-Sea district in Essex, England. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. It is a member of the East of England Local Government Association. It is based at Southend Civic Centre in Southend-on-Sea.
Southend's first elected council was a local board, which held its first meeting on 29 August 1866. Prior to that the town was administered by the vestry for the wider parish of Prittlewell. The local board district was enlarged in 1877 to cover the whole parish of Prittlewell.
In 1892 the town was made a municipal borough governed by a corporation, also known as a town council. It was then elevated to county borough status in 1914, making it independent from Essex County Council. The powers of the council were substantially reformed in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, when Southend-on-Sea was made a non-metropolitan district with Essex County Council once more providing county-level services. Southend regained its independence from Essex County Council on 1 April 1998 when it was made a unitary authority.
On 26 January 2022 letters patent were issued granting city status to the borough, allowing the council to change its name to Southend-on-Sea City Council.
The council has been under no overall control since 2019. Following the 2023 election a Conservative minority administration formed to run the council.
The first elections to the borough council as reformed under the Local Government Act 1972 were held in 1973, initially acting as a shadow authority until the new arrangements took effect on 1 April 1974. Political control of the council since 1974 has been as follows:
|Party in control||Years|
|No overall control||1974–1976|
|No overall control||1987–1990|
|No overall control||1994–1998|
|Party in control||Years|
|No overall control||1998–2000|
|No overall control||2012–2013|
|No overall control||2014–2017|
|No overall control||2019–present|
The role of mayor is largely ceremonial in Southend-on-Sea, usually being held by a different councillor each year. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 2003 have been:
|Howard Briggs||Conservative||20 Feb 2003||12 May 2005|
|Anna Waite||Conservative||12 May 2005||7 May 2006|
|Murray Foster||Conservative||18 May 2006||6 May 2007|
|Nigel Holdcroft||Conservative||17 May 2007||25 May 2014|
|Ron Woodley||Independent||5 Jun 2014||19 May 2016|
|John Lamb||Conservative||19 May 2016||9 May 2019|
|Tony Cox||Conservative||9 May 2019||3 Jun 2019|
|Ian Gilbert||Labour||3 Jun 2019||May 2022|
|Stephen George||Labour||19 May 2022||18 May 2023|
|Tony Cox||Conservative||18 May 2023|
Following the 2023 election and one subsequent change of allegiance later in May 2023, the council comprises members from four political parties plus eight independent councillors who do not belong to any party:
Of the independent councillors, three form the "Independent Group", three form the "Residents First" group and the other two are not aligned to any group.
The next election is due in 2024.
The council has been run by a Conservative minority administration since May 2023. Prior to this it was run by a rainbow coalition of Labour, Independent Group and Liberal Democrat councillors since June 2019. The council had previously been run by the same coalition between May 2014 and May 2016. Apart from these occasions, since the 2000 election the council had been run by a Conservative administration.
See also: Southend-on-Sea local elections
Seventeen wards each return three councillors, a total of 51. Councillors serve four years and one third of the council is elected each year, followed by one year without election.
The council is based at Southend Civic Centre on Victoria Avenue. The building was designed by borough architect, Patrick Burridge, and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on 31 October 1967.
In 2007, Southend Borough Council was criticised as one of the worst financially managed local authorities in England by the Audit Commission report for 2006/7, one of three to gain only one of four stars, the others being Liverpool and the Isles of Scilly.
In March 2012, Southend Borough Council was awarded the title of 'Council of the Year 2012' by the Local Government Chronicle.