Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council is the local authority for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in Greater London, England. It is a London borough council, one of 32 in the United Kingdom capital of London. Kensington and Chelsea is divided into 18 wards, each electing three councillors. The council was created by the London Government Act 1963 and replaced two local authorities: Kensington Metropolitan Borough Council and Chelsea Metropolitan Borough Council. The borough council provides some shared services with Hammersmith and Fulham, and Westminster.
There have previously been a number of local authorities responsible for the Kensington and Chelsea area. The current local authority was first elected in 1964, a year before formally coming into its powers and prior to the creation of the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on 1 April 1965. Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council replaced Kensington Metropolitan Borough Council and Chelsea Metropolitan Borough Council. Both were created in 1900 and replaced the Vestry of the Parish of Kensington and the Vestry of the Parish of Chelsea.
It was envisaged through the London Government Act 1963 that Kensington and Chelsea as a London local authority would share power with the Greater London Council. The split of powers and functions meant that the Greater London Council was responsible for "wide area" services such as fire, ambulance, flood prevention, and refuse disposal; with the local authorities responsible for "personal" services such as social care, libraries, cemeteries and refuse collection. This arrangement lasted until 1986 when Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council gained responsibility for some services that had been provided by the Greater London Council, such as waste disposal. Kensington and Chelsea became an education authority in 1990. Since 2000 the Greater London Authority has taken some responsibility for highways and planning control from the council, but within the English local government system the council remains a "most purpose" authority in terms of the available range of powers and functions.
The council has been controlled by the Conservative Party since it was first elected in 1964.
After new boundaries were set by the Boundary Commission, the Conservatives lost the Earl's Court Ward By-election in September 2010 to the Liberal Democrats and narrowly won the Cremorne Ward By-election by only 19 votes. Many commentors blamed the Tory Councillors led by Merrick Cockell for these poor results, stating that the Council did not take adequately into account residents' views on projects such as the proposed Thames Tideway Tunnel and the Earl's Court building works. The Conservatives in the Cremorne Ward ran on the promise to Save Cremorne Gardens yet these gardens are still under threat.
On 14 June 2017 a major fire destroyed the council-owned, 24-storey Grenfell Tower providing public housing in a mainly working-class area north of White City, London (sometimes called North Kensington), causing at least 79 deaths. The tower block was home to a diverse population of many nationalities, ethnicities and faiths, and was managed on behalf (but independently) of the council by Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), the largest tenant management organisation (TMO) in England, which is responsible for the management of nearly 10,000 properties in the borough.
On 18 June, the government relieved Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council of responsibility for supporting the survivors, after a perceived inadequate response. Responsibility was handed over to a Grenfell fire-response team led by a group of chief executives from councils across London. Resources available to them included central government, the British Red Cross, the Metropolitan Police, the London Fire Brigade and local government across London. Neighbouring councils sent in staff to improve the rehousing response.
On 21 June, the Council chief executive Nicholas Holgate resigned amid criticism over the borough's response to the fire. The Prime Minister Theresa May commented that the council "couldn't cope" in the response to the fire, and that it "was right" that the chief executive had resigned. The Conservative leader of the council, Nicholas Paget-Brown resisted calls to resign, but he announced on 30 June that he would step down and was replaced as leader by Conservative Elizabeth Campbell on 19 July 2017.