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 Ann Allen MBE

Ann Allen MBE was elected to the County Council in May 1997, as the Conservative Member for Dartford South West (now Wilmington).

She is a retired catering officer for the Dartford Hospitals and a former foster carer. She gained a City and Guilds Certificate in hotel and catering management which enabled her to work in all aspects of catering.

She is a Parish and District Councillor. She is the Member of Dartford Borough Council for Joydens Wood and the Cabinet Member for the Communities and Wellbeing Portfolio. She has served the Council since 1985, and was named ‘Woman of the Year’ in 1994 for her services to the community. She was the Deputy Mayor in 1992/93 and Mayor of Dartford in 1993/94 and again in 2011/13. She has been a Member of Wilmington Parish Council since 1981. In 2014 Mrs Allen was awarded an MBE for services to the community in Dartford and Wilmington in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

She lists her interests as her grandchildren and gardening, and is actively involved in many local voluntary groups and organisations. She is a Trustee of Dartford Almshouse Charity, the Wilmington Parochial Charities. She is Trustee of Age UK in North West Kent.

At KCC she held post of Chief Whip for sixteen years and Deputy Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education. Mrs Allen Chairs the Corporate Parenting Panel and is the Learning Disability Champion.


Vice-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.

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.

  • David Brazier 2017 – 2018
  • Tom Gates 2016 - 2017
  • Mike Harrison 2015 - 2016
  • Peter Homewood 2014 - 2015
  • Eric Hotson 2013-2014
  • Richard King 2012-2013
  • Paulina Stockell 2011-2012
  • Bill Hayton 2010-2011
  • John Davies 2009-2010
  • Peter Lake 2008-2009
  • Leyland Ridings 2007 – 2008
  • Fred Wood-Brignall 2006 - 2007
  • John London 2005-2006
  • Kent Tucker MBE 2004-2005
  • Frank Gibson OBE 2003-2004
  • Chris Capon MBE 2002-2003