The council was formed on April 1, 1998, when the districts of Rochester-Upon-Medway and Gillingham were abolished under a local government review and merged to become a unitary authority covering all the Medway Towns.
However, the council’s first election was held in 1997, initially to act as a shadow authority until it formally took over a year later.
For most of its time, it has been dominated by the Conservatives, but power shifted this year when Labour took the majority of seats for the first time since its creation.
The first-ever council saw no party with an overall majority but Labour as the largest group, coinciding with the height of popularity of Tony Blair’s New Labour.
However, by 2000, it party wasn’t able to keep its lead and the council shifted towards the Conservatives as the largest group.
The authority is composed of 59 councillors who are elected every four years.
The first two elections were held every three years as the unitary authority changed over from the previous regime. Rochester-Upon-Medway held elections every four years but Gillingham Council held theirs in thirds.
The outcome of each of those elections are below:
The number of wards represented has fluctuated but currently the boundaries are made up of 24 across the Towns – with a party needing 30 seats to form a majority.
All members meet as the ‘full council’ where they decide overall policies and set the budget each year.
The council leader appoints a cabinet of senior councillors who then have responsibility for set areas of policy.
During the 20 years of Tory control, the party had two leaders – Rodney Chambers (2000 to 2015) and Alan Jarrett (2015 to 2023). Both have now retired.
Labour leader Vince Maple, ward councillor for Chatham Central and Brompton, now leads the council.