West Sussex County Council

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West Sussex County Council
Arms of West Sussex County Council.svg
West Sussex County Council.svg
Council logo
Chair of the Council
Pete Bradbury,Conservative
since May 2021
Leader of the Council
Paul Marshall [1] ,Conservative
since 18 October 2019 [2]
Chief Executive
Becky Shaw (jointly with East Sussex County Council)
since 6 January 2020 [3]
Seats70 councillors
Political groups
Administration (48)
  Conservative (48)
Other parties (22)
  Liberal Democrat (10)
  Labour (9)
  Green (1)
  Independent (1)
  Local Alliance (1)
Length of term
4 years
First past the post
Last election
6 May 2021
Next election
May 2025
Meeting place
County Hall, Chichester (geograph 4025876).jpg
County Hall, West Street, Chichester, PO19 1RQ

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) is the authority that governs the non-metropolitan county of West Sussex. The county also contains seven district and borough councils, and 158 town, parish and neighbourhood councils. The county council has 70 elected councillors. The Chief Executive and their team of Directors are responsible for the day-to-day running of the council.


The county elects eight members of parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. [4]

Since 1997, West Sussex County Council has been controlled by the Conservative Party. In 2019, the council's Children Services department was described in a Children's Commissioner's report as "clearly failing across all domains in the strongest terms" leading to the resignation of then council leader Louise Goldsmith.


The Local Government Act 1888 created the administrative county of West Sussex, with its own county council, from the three western rapes of the ancient county of Sussex, that is the rapes of Chichester, Arundel and Bramber. Except for the three county boroughs of Brighton, Hastings and Eastbourne, the three eastern rapes of Lewes, Pevensey and Hastings came under the control of East Sussex County Council. Until 1898 it existed alongside the Urban and Rural Sanitary Districts when these were abolished in favour of a new network of urban and rural districts.

The Local Government Act 1972 abolished the previous structure of local government in England and Wales. At this time West Sussex became a non-metropolitan county, divided into districts. This act created the two-tier system of government that exists in West Sussex to this day.

Chairmen and chairwomen of West Sussex County Council

Since 2011 most chairs of the council serve a two-year term, previously the term was more usually four years though before 1962 the position could essentially last almost a lifetime. Peter Mursell was the only individual to serve two non-consecutive terms, the second being after his 1969 knighthood. Cliff Robinson (died 2009 [5] ) was the only chairman elected as a Liberal.

Chairs of West Sussex County Council in date order [6]
2021 _____Mr Peter John James Bradbury
2019 2021Mrs Janet Elizabeth Duncton
2017 2019Mr Lionel Harvey Barnard
2015 2017Mrs Patricia Annette Cooper Arculus
2013 2015Mrs Amanda Jane Jupp
2011 2013Mr Michael William George Coleman
2001 2008Mrs Margaret Delia Johnson, DL
1997 2001Mr Ian Richard Wellesley Elliott, DL
1993 1997Mr Clifford Robinson, DL
1989 1993Mr Martyn Howard Long, CBE, DL
1985 1989Mr Peter Geoffrey Shepherd, CBE
1981 1985Mr Christopher Stewart Buckle, DL
1977 1981Mr Charles James Lucas, DL
1974 1977Mr Edward John Frederick Green, DL
1969 1974Sir Peter Mursell, MBE, DL
1967 1969Brigadier L. L. Thwaytes, DL
1962 1967Mr Peter Mursell, MBE, DL
1946 1962Lt Col Sir Herbert Shiner, DSO, MC, DL [7]
1917 1946 Charles Henry, 3rd Baron Leconfield, GCVO
1907 1917 Charles Henry, 7th Duke of Richmond & Gordon, KG, GCVO, CB
1903 1907 Edward, 5th Earl of Winterton, DL
1889 1903 Charles Henry, 6th Duke of Richmond & Gordon, KG, LLD

Political control

Paul Marshall (Conservative) has been leader of West Sussex County Council since 2019. He replaced Louise Goldsmith who had been leader since May 2010. [8] [9]

West Sussex County Council since 1973
YearsPolitical Control
1973 1993 Conservative
1993 1997 No Overall Control
1997 present Conservative


The council is responsible for public services such as education, transport, strategic planning, emergency services, social services, public safety, the fire service and waste disposal.

District councils

Parish councils

See List of civil parishes in West Sussex

The Council

West Sussex County Council offices in Horsham West Sussex County Council & Horsham District Council offices, Horsham.jpg
West Sussex County Council offices in Horsham

The whole County Council is the ultimate decision-making body and the principal forum for major political debate. Its 70 members meet six times a year. The County Council reserves to itself decisions on key policy plans, questions members of the Cabinet, debates major pieces of work by Select Committees and notices of motion.

It appoints the Leader who decides the composition and areas of competence of the Cabinet, to which responsibility is delegated for carrying out many of the County Council's existing policies. It also appoints the Scrutiny Committees which examine and review decisions and actions of the Cabinet and Cabinet Members, as well as some non-Executive committees and a Standards Committee. The current leader is Paul Marshall.


The West Sussex Cabinet has ten members selected from the Conservative majority. The Cabinet proposes the key policy decisions of the Council, which are subject to agreement by the full County Council of 70 members. Each member has a portfolio of work for which they take personal responsibility.


County council elections took place on 6 May 2021. For detailed results for each electoral division see 2021 West Sussex County Council election

West Sussex County Council election, 2021
PartySeatsGainsLossesNet gain/lossSeats %Votes %Votes+/−
  Conservative 48311-868.5
  Liberal Democrats 1043+114.3
  Labour 951+412.8
  Independent 110+11.4
  Green 110+11.4
  Local Alliance 110+11.4

Elections took place on 4 May 2017. Results are below. [10]

West Sussex County Council election, 2017
PartySeatsGainsLossesNet gain/lossSeats %Votes %Votes+/−
  Conservative 56111+1080.0
  Liberal Democrats 910+112.9
  Labour 501-17.1
  UKIP 000-100.0
  Independent 001-10.0
  Green 00000.0
  Other parties 00000.0

Since the divisions had been slightly reorganised and there was one less division than previously the gains and losses are not strictly meaningful.

County council elections took place on 2 May 2013. For detailed results for each electoral division see 2013 West Sussex County Council election.

West Sussex County Council election, 2013
PartySeatsGainsLossesNet gain/lossSeats %Votes %Votes+/−
  Conservative 461316-364.8
  UKIP 10102+814.1
  Liberal Democrats 8111-1011.3
  Labour 641+38.5
  Independent 110+11.4
  Green 001-10.0
  Socialist Labour 00000.0
  BNP 00000.0
 Justice Party00000.0
  Peace 00000.0

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    1. "West Sussex County Council names new leader as Paul Marshall". 14 October 2019. Retrieved 16 September 2020 via www.bbc.co.uk.
    2. "New Leader of West Sussex County Council elected". West Sussex County Council. 18 October 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
    3. "Appointment of a new Chief Executive at West Sussex County Council agreed by councillors". West Sussex County Council. 17 December 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
    4. "MPs for West Sussex". West Sussex County Council. Retrieved 8 June 2020.
    5. Death of Robinson's wife Mima in local press report
    6. Names and dates as listed on the carved boards in County Hall, Chichester
    7. West Sussex Records Office
    8. "West Sussex County Council names new leader as Paul Marshall". BBC News. 14 October 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
    9. "Ms Louise Goldsmith". West Sussex County Council. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
    10. "Results Summary" (PDF). West Sussex County Council.