Wiltshire County Council elections were first held on 23 January 1889, with the election of the first Wiltshire County Council. Thereafter, elections were held every three years, with all members being elected on the same day. Later, the cycle was changed to one election in every four years, and the last such election was in 2005. There were also occasional by-elections, the last of which took place in February 2008.
On 1 April 2009, the county council and the four Wiltshire district councils were merged into the new unitary Wiltshire Council.
Main article: Wiltshire County Council
The council was established in 1889 as the principal local authority for the historic county of Wiltshire, at the same time as a large number of other county councils covering most of England and Wales. To begin with, the elected county councillors were supplemented by county aldermen, who were co-opted by the elected members and could then vote at meetings of the council. The aldermen had a term of office of six years. The first elections were held on 23 January 1889, with sixty seats available, but twenty-eight of them had only one candidate, so that only thirty-two saw contested elections. Among those elected unopposed were the Marquess of Bath, the Earl of Pembroke, the Earl of Suffolk, Sir Thomas Grove, 1st Baronet, Sir Charles Hobhouse, 4th Baronet, and Sir R. H. Pollen, Baronet. On 31 January 1889 the first meeting took place, and several aldermen were chosen to join the elected members.
The county aldermen were abolished by the Local Government Act 1972, although the Act allowed for honorary aldermen to be appointed, who would only be able to vote if they were also elected.
Although it gained further powers over the next hundred years, in form and area the county council continued little changed until April 1997, when the Borough of Swindon became a unitary authority in its own right, taking almost a third of the population out of the area of Wiltshire County Council.
At the time of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England, Wiltshire County Council and the four districts then within its geographical area were replaced by the new Wiltshire Council, a unitary authority covering the same area, with elections to that continuing to be held every four years. The first was in June 2009, when they coincided with an election to the European Parliament. Between April and June 2009, the existing county councillors were the members of the new authority.
Political control of the council was held by the following parties:
|Party in control||Years|
|No overall control||1973–1977|
|No overall control||1985–1997|
|No overall control||1997–2000|
By-elections occur when seats become vacant between council elections. Below is a summary of recent by-elections; full by-election results can be found by clicking on the by-election name.
|By-election||Date||Incumbent party||Winning party|
|Whorwellsdown by-election||2 April 1998||Liberal Democrats||Conservative|
|Alderbury by-election||1 July 1999||Conservative||Conservative|
|Melksham Without by-election||30 January 2000||Liberal Democrats||Conservative|
|Bedwyn and Pewsey by-election||20 July 2000||Conservative||Conservative|
|Salisbury St Paul by-election||14 November 2002||Labour||Labour|
|Chippenham Sheldon by-election||26 February 2004||Liberal Democrats||Liberal Democrats|
|Warminster West by-election||2 November 2006||Independent||Liberal Democrats|
|Trowbridge East by-election||7 February 2008||Liberal Democrats||Conservative|
|Holt and Paxcroft by-election||7 February 2008||Liberal Democrats||Independent|