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.

Current Chairman is Graham Gibbens

Graham Gibbens was elected as a Kent County Council Member in 2001 and represents Canterbury City North. Graham was the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health from 2008 until he was elected Vice-Chairman of the Council in 2019.

His professional career was within international banking, during which he was employed by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, with a last appointment in Karachi, Pakistan as Head of Change Management and Development for the Middle East and South Asia. He also worked as an independent consultant with governmental and non-governmental organisations in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Graham was an inaugural member of the Kent Health and Wellbeing Board and is committed to supporting the most vulnerable members of our community, including the homeless and those suffering with mental health issues. Graham’s key focus is adult safeguarding and he sits on the Kent and Medway Multi-agency Adult Safeguarding Board.


Vice Chairman is Michael Northey

Michael Northey is a graduate of Oxford University, in classics and philosophy. During his time at university he was awarded the Chancellor's English Essay Prize. He also has a master's degree in English from the Open University.

He is a retired secondary school teacher, and has experience in teaching in a variety of schools. After 13 years of teaching in a school on the Welsh border, he became the housemaster at an independent school in Canterbury. Michael was also briefly a tax inspector and for many years a GCSE examiner.

From 1981 to 1987, he was a town councillor in Gloucestershire, a Member for Barton from 2001 to 2003 and Canterbury City Council from 2004 to 2006.He was elected to KCC as a Member for Canterbury South East in 2005, then in 2017 a Member for Canterbury South.

He has been Deputy Cabinet Member for three directorates, mostly in the children, young people and education directorate. Currently, Michael's focus is on the environment directorate.

Michael lists his interests as music, travel (he has visited over 30 countries and territories), reading, church and football. He attends St Martin's Church in Canterbury. In 2017 he published a crime novel: Shake Hands or Die.

He has two daughters and one son with his wife Margaret, and two small grandsons.

Holocaust Memorial Day

The Chairman invites you to watch an online presentation to mark Holocaust Memorial Day (Wednesday 27 January).

Holocaust Memorial Day is the international day to remember the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The presentation includes contributions from the Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, the High Sheriff of Kent, the Vice-Chairman, Rabbi Cliff Cohen, Nicky Younosi from the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE), the Leader of the Council, other senior members of the council and members of the Kent Youth County Council. At the end of the presentation there is an opportunity for you to light a candle and mark a minute’s silence in memory of those affected by genocide.

Other news

Read the latest news from the Chairman:

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.


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

Send your invitation to the Civic Office:

  • call 03000 41 65 43 or 03000 41 62 38
  • email
  • write to Civic Office, Members Desk, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone, Kent, ME14 1XQ.

Official order of precedence for civil 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.