The Chairman

As the civic and ceremonial head of the authority, the role of the Chairman is to uphold the democratic values of the council as a whole and represent the council at civic and ceremonial functions.

The Chairman also raises money for charity. Donate to charities the Chairman is currently supporting.

Current Chairman is Bryan Sweetland

Now retired, Bryan Sweetland was a senior manager in the telecommunications industry, working in UK, Europe, USA and Bermuda.

He has served as a non executive director of a number public organisations including NHS West Kent Primary Care Trust, Kent Community Health Trust and various KCC Commercial Services companies.

He was a councillor at Gravesham Borough Council from 2007 to 2015 and served as Cabinet Member for Business and the Town Centre.

In May 2009, he was elected to Kent County Council, initially serving as Deputy Cabinet Member for Business Services before holding various Cabinet positions including

  • Highways, Environment and Waste
  • Commercial and Traded Services
  • People, Partnerships and Communication.

In addition to serving as a Cabinet Member, Bryan has chaired a number of KCC Committees, including Policy and Resources, Property, and Selection and Member Services.

He has represented KCC on the Rochester Bridge Trust and the Kent Fire and Rescue Authority.

Bryan is a past President of Gravesend and Meopham Rotary Club and during the COVID-19 pandemic worked as an NHS volunteer at the Gravesend mass vaccination centre. At KCC, he is proud to represent his constituents in the Gravesham Rural Division.


Vice Chairman is Alan Ridgers

Alan Ridgers was born in Dover and grew up in Deal, moving to Northfleet when he was 13 and has always lived in Kent (apart from one year when in Berkshire).

Following a career in distribution and logistics with Blue Circle Industries, he eventually operated his own fleet of vehicles serving the cement industry. The cement industry in Northfleet operated worldwide and sales included shipping to every continent.

He has also had the opportunity to promote and help young people - starting with mentoring sixth formers through Young Enterprise, which he did for 8 years and serving the local Sea Cadet management board for over 20 years.

He has had a life-long interest in archaeology and history. He is an honorary life member of the Kent Archaeological Society and the Gravesend Historical Society having previously been Secretary for 17 years, Chairman and President. He is honoured to be the KCC’s Heritage Champion.

Alan was elected 9 years ago to Gravesham Borough Council where he had a Cabinet position. He was elected to KCC in 2017 and was Deputy Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services. He has chaired the Growth and Economic Development Cabinet Committee and for the last three years, has chaired Adult Social Care Cabinet Committee. Alan has served on several other committees and pride himself on good attendance at meetings.

He currently sits on the Kent Fire and Rescue Authority council and the local Joint Transport Board.

Alan has been a Rotarian for 32 years, having been Secretary twice and President. He is a trustee of the 400-year-old Pinnocks Almhouses trust.

He represents the Gravesend East Division and his local ward of Painters Ash at Gravesham Borough Council. Alan is proud to have been given the responsibility of representing those constituents.

The Chairman is the civic and ceremonial head of Kent County Council, and represents the council at many events in Kent and the South East. The role of the Chairman is to uphold the democratic values of the council as a whole and represent the council at civic and ceremonial functions.

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman are elected annually by the county council.


The duties of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman are to:

  • chair the full council meetings
  • receive petitions at county council meetings
  • host a programme of civic and ceremonial events throughout the course of the year
  • attend citizenship ceremonies to give the Welcome to Kent Community address to new citizens of Kent
  • become Chairman of Kent Volunteers Advisory Group, and as such an ambassador for volunteering
  • become a trustee of The Kent Foundation to provide a link between the foundation and Kent County Council and look for opportunities where The Kent Foundation might help the future of disadvantaged young people in Kent
  • become Honorary President of the Kent Active Retirement Fellowship – an organisation for retired public sector staff to meet with former colleagues and colleagues.

To invite the Chairman to an event, contact us with:

  • a brief outline of the event
  • details of any points that the Chairman should include in the opening address or thanking response
  • dress code for the occasion
  • time of arrival and departure
  • the name of the person who will meet the Chairman
  • car parking arrangements.

Send your invitation to the Civic Office:

Official order of precedence for civic dignitaries

Except for royal visits, it is not necessary for all the civic dignitaries to be invited to a function, but where any are invited this order of precedence must be followed:

  • Lord Lieutenant of Kent
  • High Sheriff of Kent
  • Chairman of Kent County Council
  • Mayor or Chairman of the borough or district in which the event takes place
  • Borough or district Chief Executive
  • Town Mayor of the town in which the event takes place
  • Member of Parliament for the constituency in which the event takes place
  • Member of the European Parliament for the constituency in which the event takes place
  • Chief Constable of Kent.

If an event is hosted by a borough council, or relating to a particular borough, the mayor of that borough and the borough chief executive take precedence over the Chairman of Kent County Council.

Visiting members of the royal family take precedence over all civic dignitaries, but other visiting dignitaries, including Mayors of other boroughs, normally take precedence after those listed above.

Eight districts in Kent have borough or city status, and have Mayors as their civic heads, except Canterbury, which has a Lord Mayor. The remaining four districts (Dover, Sevenoaks, Shepway and Thanet) have Chairmen rather than Mayors as their civic heads.

Medway is a unitary authority that has a Mayor as its civic head.

The correct way to refer to the Chairman formally in writing is "The Chairman of Kent County Council, Mr/Mrs [NAME]"

The correct way to refer to the Chairman verbally is "The Chairman of Kent County Council, Mr/Mrs [NAME]"

After formal introductions, speakers are asked to refer to the Chairman as "The Chairman".

Address the Chairman in a preamble to a speech as "Mr/Madam Chairman".

Except where the Leader of the Council invites a local Member of Parliament or other eminent civic dignitary to perform a ceremonial function (including the opening of new highways, schools or other county council buildings or facilities) the Chairman (or Vice-Chairman) would attend and perform the ceremonial event and, if called upon, give a brief speech of thanks.

The Cabinet Portfolio Holder, Deputy Cabinet Member, Corporate Director, Committee Chairman or nominated senior officer, whilst acknowledging the precedence of the Chairman, should make a professional speech, describing the project.

The accepted etiquette at ceremonial events or functions that the Chairman has been invited to is for the senior member or officer attending and responsible for the event to welcome the Chairman on arrival and extend the arrival courtesies and introductions as appropriate to the dignity of the office.

  • Gary Cooke 2023 to 2024
  • Lesley Game 2022 to 2023
  • Ann Allen 2021 to 2022
  • Graham Gibbens 2020 to 2021
  • Ann Allen 2019 to 2020
  • Mike Angell 2018 to 2019
  • David Brazier 2017 to 2018
  • Tom Gates 2016 to 2017
  • Mike Harrison 2015 to 2016
  • Peter Homewood 2014 to 2015
  • Eric Hotson 2013 to 2014
  • Richard King 2012 to 2013
  • Paulina Stockell 2011 to 2012
  • Bill Hayton 2010 to 2011
  • John Davies 2009 to 2010
  • Peter Lake 2008 to 2009
  • Leyland Ridings 2007 to 2008
  • Fred Wood-Brignall 2006 to 2007
  • John London 2005 to 2006
  • Kent Tucker MBE 2004 to 2005
  • Frank Gibson OBE 2003 to 2004
  • Chris Capon MBE 2002 to 2003.