Surrey County Council
Coat of arms or logo
Saj Hussain,
since 23 May 2023
Tim Oliver,
since 11 December 2018
Leigh Whitehouse (interim) [1]
since March 2024
Seats81 councillors
Political groups
Administration (44)
  Conservative (44)
Other parties (37)
  Liberal Democrats (16)
  Residents (13)
  Independent (4)
  Labour (2)
  Green (2)
Length of term
4 years
First past the post[2]
Last election
6 May 2021[2]
Next election
1 May 2025
Meeting place
Woodhatch Place, 11 Cockshot Hill, Reigate, RH2 8EF[3][4]

Surrey County Council is the county council for the non-metropolitan county of Surrey, England. The council is composed of 81 elected councillors, and in all but one election since 1974 the Conservative Party has held the majority.[5] The leader of the council is Tim Oliver.[6]


Elected county councils were created in 1889 under the Local Government Act 1888, taking over many administrative functions which had been performed by unelected magistrates at the quarter sessions. In Surrey's case, most such functions in the north-east of the county had already passed to the Metropolitan Board of Works, which had been established in 1856 to administer the urban area of London.[7] Under the 1888 Act, the Metropolitan Board of Works' area became the new County of London. The then borough of Croydon lay outside the County of London, but was considered large enough to run county-level services and so it was made a county borough. Surrey County Council was elected by and provided services to the rest of the county, which area was termed the administrative county.[8][9]

The first elections to the county council were held in January 1889 and it formally came into being on 1 April 1889. On that day it held its first official meeting at the Sessions House in Newington, which had been the meeting place of the Surrey Quarter Sessions since 1791. Co-incidentally, it was also near Waterloo station, a major hub for the railways serving Surrey. Sessions House was in the area that had transferred from Surrey to the new county of London. The first chairman was Edward Leycester-Penrhyn, who had been chairman of the quarter sessions since 1861.[10][11]

In 1965, the London Government Act 1963 abolished the existing county of London and replaced it with the larger Greater London, which took over more territory in the north-east of Surrey, including Richmond, Kingston-upon-Thames, Wimbledon and Sutton. At the same time, Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames were transferred to Surrey from Middlesex. In 1974, the Local Government Act 1972 designated Surrey a non-metropolitan county.[12] Prior to the 1974 reforms the lower tier of local government had comprised numerous municipal boroughs, urban districts and rural districts; these were reorganised into eleven non-metropolitan districts.[13]


Surrey County Council provides county-level services. District-level services are provided by the eleven district councils:

Much of the county is also covered by civil parishes, which form a third tier of local government.[14][12]

Political control

The county council has been under Conservative majority control since 1997.

Political control of the council since the 1974 reforms has been as follows:[15][16]

Party in control Years
Conservative 1974–1993
No overall control 1993–1997
Conservative 1997–present


The leaders of the council since 1997 have been:[17]

Councillor Party From To
Nick Skellett[18] Conservative 1997 23 Jun 2009
Andrew Povey Conservative 23 Jun 2009 11 Oct 2011
David Hodge Conservative 11 Oct 2011 11 Dec 2018
Tim Oliver Conservative 11 Dec 2018


Following the 2021 election and subsequent by-elections and changes of allegiance up to January 2024, the composition of the council was:

Party Councillors
Conservative 44
Liberal Democrats 16
Independent 4
Residents Associations of Epsom and Ewell 4
Residents' association 4
Farnham Residents 3
Green 2
Labour 2
Residents for Guildford and Villages 2
Total 81

The various residents' associations and three of the four independent councillors sit together as a group.[19] The next election is due in 2025.


See also: Surrey County Council elections

Since the last boundary changes in 2013 the county has been divided into 81 electoral divisions, each of which elects one councillor. Elections are held every four years.[20]


The council is based at Woodhatch Place in Reigate. The main building there was built in 1999 as the headquarters of Canon (UK) Limited; the complex also includes a large Georgian house. Woodhatch Place was bought by the council in 2020 and converted to become its headquarters including council chamber and committee rooms.[21] The venue's first full council meeting took place in May 2021.[22]

The council was first headquartered in Newington where the Surrey Quarter Sessions court had been held since 1791.[23] The council moved to a purpose-built headquarters at County Hall, Kingston upon Thames in 1893.[24]

County Hall, Kingston upon Thames: Council's headquarters 1893–2020

Kingston became part of Greater London in 1965. Despite it no longer being in their administrative area, the council continued to be based at County Hall for another 56 years. In November 2019 Surrey County Council planned it would relocate to Woking.[25] The move to Woking was scrapped in 2020;[26] a move to Reigate was announced instead.[27]

Coat of arms

The escutcheon is described as 'Per pale Azure and Sable two Keys in bend wards upwards and outwards bows interlaced Or between in dexter base a Woolpack and in sinister chief a Sprig of Oak fructed Argent', with the badge 'On a Roundel per pale Azure and Sable in chief a Sprig of Oak fructed Argent and in base two Keys [in saltire] wards upwards and outwards Or'. These arms were granted in 1974.[28]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Election results declared". 5 May 2017.
  3. ^ "127 year chapter of history comes to an end as Surrey County Council moves home". Get Surrey. 23 December 2020. Retrieved 3 May 2021.
  4. ^ "Council Offices". Surrey County Council. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  5. ^ "Tories increase power in county amid UKIP wins". 3 June 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Tim Oliver announced as new leader of SCC's Conservative group". 23 November 2018.
  7. ^ Metropolis Management Act 1855
  8. ^ "Local Government Act 1888",, The National Archives, 1888 c. 41, retrieved 27 August 2023
  9. ^ "Diagram of the County of Surrey, 1900". National Library of Scotland. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  10. ^ "Surrey County Council". Wallington and Carshalton Herald. 6 April 1889. p. 3. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  11. ^ "Mr E. H. Leycester-Penrhyn". Evening Mail. London. 20 January 1919. p. 5. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  12. ^ a b "Local Government Act 1972",, The National Archives, 1972 c. 70, retrieved 22 October 2023
  13. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972",, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 22 October 2023
  14. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  15. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
  16. ^ "Elections 2009 – Surrey council". 5 June 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  17. ^ "Council minutes". Surrey County Council. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  18. ^ "Council leader collects his CBE". BBC News. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  19. ^ "Your councillors by political grouping". Surrey County Council. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  20. ^ "The Surrey (Electoral Changes) Order 2012",, The National Archives, SI 2012/1872, retrieved 8 January 2024
  21. ^ "Surrey County Council set to be based in Surrey for first time in 55 years". Get Surrey. 5 October 2020. Archived from the original on 3 March 2021. Retrieved 20 May 2021.
  22. ^ "County Council minutes, 25 May 2021" (PDF). Surrey County Council. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  23. ^ "Surrey History : Exploring Surrey's past – County Hall, Kingston". Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  24. ^ Peter Ward (31 May 2011). "County Hall". Archived from the original on 20 March 2007. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  25. ^ Surrey County Council (1 November 2019). "Surrey County Council moves to Woking". Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  26. ^ "Coronavirus forces county council to pull out of Woking HQ move". 23 April 2020.
  27. ^ "County council base will be in Surrey for first time in 55 years". 15 October 2020.
  28. ^ "SURREY COUNTY COUNCIL". Robert Young. Retrieved 31 October 2019.