Torbay Council
Arms of Torbay Council
Coat of arms
Torbay Council logo
Council logo
Founded1 April 1968
Mark Spacagna,
since 16 May 2023
David Thomas,
since 16 May 2023[1]
Anne-Marie Bond
since 2021[2]
Seats36 councillors
Political groups
Administration (17)
  Conservative (17)
Other parties (19)
  Liberal Democrats (15)
  Independent (4)
Length of term
Whole council elected every four years
Last election
4 May 2023
Next election
6 May 2027
SALUS ET FELICITAS (Health and Happiness)
Meeting place
Town Hall at Torquay
Town Hall, Castle Circus, Torquay, TQ1 3DR

Torbay Council is the local authority for Torbay, a unitary authority with borough status in the ceremonial county of Devon, England. The council is based in Torquay.

Following the 2023 election the Conservatives had a majority of the seats - however in October 2023 two Conservative members left the party to form a new group, Prosper Torbay. This leaves the Conservative group as a minority, though still in control of the council.[3] The leader of the council is David Thomas.


The council was created on 1 April 1968 to govern the county borough of Torbay, which replaced the abolished municipal borough of Torquay, urban districts of Brixham and Paignton and civil parish of Churston Ferrers. The council's formal title on creation in 1968 was the "mayor, aldermen and burgesses of the borough of Torbay", informally known as the corporation or borough council. As a county borough, the council provided all local government services for the area.[4]

Six years later local government was reorganised again, under the Local Government Act 1972. Torbay kept the same boundaries, but on 1 April 1974 it became a non-metropolitan district, with Devon County Council once more providing county-level services to the area.[5] Torbay retained borough status, allowing the council to take the name "Torbay Borough Council" and letting the chair of the council take the title of mayor, continuing Torbay's series of mayors which had started in 1968.[6][7]

Torbay regained its independence from the county council in 1998 when it was made a unitary authority, since when it has styled itself "Torbay Council".[8][7] Between 2005 and 2019 the council had a directly elected mayor. Since 2019 political leadership has instead been provided by a leader of the council.[9]


As a unitary authority, Torbay Council has the responsibilities of both a district council and county council combined. In its capacity as a district council it is a billing authority collecting Council Tax and business rates, and its responsibilities include town planning, housing, waste collection and environmental health. In its capacity as a county council it is a local education authority, and responsible for social services, libraries and waste disposal.

Torbay Council appoints two members to the Devon and Somerset Combined Fire Authority[10] and appoints one member to the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel.[11] The Torbay Health and Wellbeing Board is made up of representatives from Torbay Council and other local healthcare organisations.[12]

Political control

The council is under no overall control after two changes of allegiance in October 2023 saw the Conservatives lose the majority they had won in the May 2023 election.[13]

Political control of the council since the 1974 reforms has been as follows:[14][15]

Non-metropolitan district

Party in control Years
Conservative 1974–1990
No overall control 1990–1991
Liberal Democrats 1991–1998

Unitary authority

Party in control Years
Liberal Democrats 1998–2000
Conservative 2000–2003
Liberal Democrats 2003–2007
Conservative 2007–2019
No overall control 2019–2023
Conservative 2023–2023
No overall control 2023–present


Prior to 2005, political leadership was provided by the leader of the council. The leader from 2003 to 2005 was:[16]

Councillor Party From To
Chris Harris Liberal Democrats 15 May 2003 23 Oct 2005

Between 2005 and 2019 the council had a directly elected mayor. The mayors were:

Mayor Party From To
Nick Bye[17] Conservative 24 Oct 2005 8 May 2011
Gordon Oliver[18] Conservative 9 May 2011 5 May 2019

In 2019 the council reverted to having a leader instead of a directly elected mayor. The leaders since 2019 have been:[16]

Councillor Party From To
Steve Darling Liberal Democrats 28 May 2019 16 May 2023
David Thomas Conservative 16 May 2023


Following the 2023 election and two subsequent changes of allegiance in October 2023, the composition of the council was:[19][13]

Party Councillors
Conservative 17
Liberal Democrats 15
Independent 4
Total 36

Two of the independent councillors sit together as the "Independent Group", the other two (both elected as Conservatives) form the "Prosper Torbay" group.[20][21] The next election is due in 2027.


The council is based at Torquay Town Hall on Castle Circus, which had been completed in 1911 for the former Torquay Town Council.[22][23]

On its creation in 1968 the council also inherited the former Paignton Urban District Council's headquarters at Oldway Mansion and the former Brixham Urban District Council's headquarters at Brixham Town Hall. Oldway Mansion was used as additional office space for the council until 2013.[24] Brixham Town Hall was transferred to Brixham Town Council in 2011.[25]


See also: Torbay Council elections

Torbay Council wards

Since the last boundary changes in 2019 the council has comprised 36 councillors representing 16 wards, with each ward electing one, two or three councillors. Elections are held every four years.[26]


  1. ^ "Council minutes, 16 May 2023". Torbay Council. Retrieved 30 May 2023.
  2. ^ "Council formally confirms Anne-Marie Bond as new Chief Executive". Torbay Council. 1 April 2021. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  3. ^ "Councillors quit Tory party and form new group". BBC News. 26 October 2023. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  4. ^ Smith, R. J. D. (1 April 1968). "Torbay Borough starts with a history: Story of the foundation of the new borough". Herald Express. Torquay. p. 1968. Retrieved 3 August 2023.
  5. ^ "The English Non-metropolitan Districts (Definition) Order 1972",, The National Archives, SI 1972/2039, retrieved 31 May 2023
  6. ^ "District Councils and Boroughs". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 28 March 1974. Retrieved 4 December 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Council History - Torbay Council". Archived from the original on 26 December 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  8. ^ "The Devon (City of Plymouth and Borough of Torbay) Structural Change) Order 1996",, The National Archives, SI 1996/1865, retrieved 3 August 2023
  9. ^ "Torbay mayor and cabinet system scrapped in referendum". BBC News. 8 May 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
  10. ^ "Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority".
  11. ^ Council, Torbay (17 June 2019). "Outside bodies – Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel". Government of the United Kingdom.
  12. ^ "Torbay Health and Wellbeing Board created | Torquay Herald Express". Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2022.
  13. ^ a b Boothroyd, David (29 October 2023). "The home of lost causes and forsaken beliefs". Local Councils. Thorncliffe. Retrieved 29 October 2023.
  14. ^ "Compositions calculator". The Elections Centre. 4 March 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
  15. ^ "Torbay". BBC News Online. Retrieved 11 September 2009.
  16. ^ a b "Council minutes". Torbay Council. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  17. ^ "Torbay Mayor Nick Bye loses local Conservative support". BBC News. 26 November 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  18. ^ "Gordon Oliver remains Torbay Mayor". ITV News. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  19. ^ "Local elections 2023: live council results for England". The Guardian.
  20. ^ "Political balance at Torbay Council to change". Torbay Council. 26 October 2023. Retrieved 29 October 2023.
  21. ^ "Your councillors". Torbay Council. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
  22. ^ Historic England. "The Town Hall (1208247)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  23. ^ "Contact us". Torbay Council. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
  24. ^ Oldfield, Edward (28 January 2019). "Rescue plan drawn up to secure future of Oldway Mansion". Devon Live. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
  25. ^ "Transfer of Brixham Town Hall to Brixham Town Council". Torbay Council. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  26. ^ "The Torbay (Electoral Changes) Order 2018",, The National Archives, SI 2018/740, retrieved 15 August 2023