Click on a section below to learn more about what your Parish Council can do for you.
The Powers and Duties of The Parish Council
|Allotments||Powers to provide allotments.
Duty to provide allotment gardens if demand unsatisfied.
|Small Holdings Act 1908 ss23,26 & 42|
|Archives||Power to make records held available to the public and to support local archives||Local Government Records Act 1962 ss1 & 4|
|Baths & Washouses||Power to provide public baths and washhouses||Public Health Act 1936 ss221, 222, 223 & 227|
|Burial Grounds, Cemeteries and Crematoria||Power to acquire and maintain||Open Spaces Act 1906 ss9 & 10 Local Government Act 1972 s214|
|Power to provide
Power to agree to maintain monuments and memorials
|Parish Councils and Burial Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970 s1|
|Power to contribute towards expenses of cemeteries||Local Government Act 1972 s214 (6)|
|Bus Shelters||Power to provide and maintain shelters||Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953 s4|
|Bye Laws||Powers to make Bye Laws in regards to pleasure grounds||Public Health Act 1875 s164|
|Cycle Parks||Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 s57|
|Baths and Washhouses||Public Health Act 1936 s223|
|Open Spaces and Burial Grounds||Open Spaces Act 1906 ss12 & 15|
|Mortuaries and Post-Mortem Rooms||Public Health Act 1936 c198|
|Car Sharing Schemes||Power to establish, maintain and assist others||Local Government and Rating Act 1997 s26|
|Charities||Duty to receive accounts of parochial charities||Charities Act 1960 s32|
|Clocks||Power to provide public clocks||Parish Councils Act 1957 s2|
|Closed Churchyards||Powers as to maintenance||Local Government Act 1972 s215|
|Commons and Common Pastures||Powers in relation to enclosure, as to regulation and management, and as to providing common pasture||Enclosure Act 1845;
Local Government Act 1894 s8(4);
Smallholdings & Allotmentst Act 1908 s34;
Commons Act 1899
|Conference Facilities||Power to provide and encourage the use of facilities||Local Government Act 1972 s144|
|Community Centres||Power to provide and equip buildings for use of clubs having athletic, social or educational objectives||Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s19|
|Delegated Functions||Power to assume a function delegated by another authority||Local Government Act 1972 ss101, 111 & 112|
|Power to ensure effective discharge of Council functions||as above|
|Power to employ persons to carry out Council functions||as above|
|Power to deal with ponds/ditches, agreements with landowners and with English Nature to manage Council-owned reserve land as a nature reserve||Public Health Act 1936 s260|
|Legal Proceedings||Power to prosecute or defend||Local Government Act 1972 s222|
|Listed Buildings||Power to contribute to the preservation of historic buildings||Essex Act 1987 s48|
|Litter||Provision of receptacles||Litter Act 1983 ss5.6|
|Lotteries||Power to promote||Lotteries & Amusements Act 1976 s7|
|Nuisances||Power to deal with offensive ditches||Public Health Act 1936 s260|
|Open Spaces||Power to acquire land and maintain||Public Health Act 1975 s164; Open Spaces Act 1906 ss9 & 10; Commons Act 1899|
|Parish Property and Records||Powers to direct as to their custody||Local Government Act 1972 s226|
|Planning||Right to be notified of and power to respond to planning applications||Town & Country Planning Act 1990 s1 ss8;
Local Government Act 1972 s15 ss20
|Postal and telecommunications facilities||Power to pay the Post Office, British Telecommunications or any other public telecommunications operator any loss sustained in providing post or telegraph office or telecommunications facilities||Post Office Cat 1953 s51;
Telecommunications Act 1984 s97
|Public Buildings and Village Halls||Power to provide||Public Health Act 1936 s87|
|Public Conveniences||Power to provide||as above|
|Public Enquiries||Power to make representations at public enquiries||Local Government Act 1972 s222|
|Publicise Functions||Powers to publicise council and local authority functions||Local Government Act 1972 s142|
|Raising of Finances||Power to raise money through the precept||Local Government Act 1972 s150|
|Recreation||Power to acquire land for or to provide recreation grounds, public walks, pleasure grounds and open spaces and to manage and control them||Public Health Act 1875 s164; Local Government Act 1972 s14 ss27; Public Health Acts Amendments Acts 1890 s44; Open Spaces Act 1906 ss9 & 10; Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s19; Commons Act 1899|
|Power to provide gymnasiums, playing fields and holiday camps||as above|
|Provision of boating pools||Public Health Act 1961 s54|
|Taxi Fare Concessions||Power to reimburse operator||Local Government and Rating Act 1997 s28|
|Tourism||Power to contribute to organisations encouraging||Local Government Act 1972 s144|
|Transport and Traffic||Power to conduct surveys to establish the transport needs of the community, the use of and need for roads and the management and control of traffic||Local Government and Rating Act 1997 s29|
|Power to collect and disseminate passenger transport information and make grants for bus services||Local Government and Rating Act 1997 s29 (2) 27|
|Powers to contribute financially to traffic calming schemes||Local Government and Rating Act 1997 s26|
|Training||Powers to train Councillors||Local Government Act 1972 s175|
|Transport||Powers to spend money on community transport schemes||Local Government and Rating Act 1997 ss26-29|
|War Memorials||Power to maintain, repair and adapt war memorials||War Memorials (Local Authorities Powers) Act 1923 s1; as extended by Local Government Act 1948 s123|
|Water Supply||Powers to utilise well, spring or stream and to provide facilities for obtaining water there from||Public Health Act 1936 s125|
The Role of the Parish Council
Parish Councillors are elected by the electors of the parish, under section 16 (2) of the Local Government Act 1972, every four years. A councillor may also be returned by bye-election, co-option, appointment by the district council or by return after a successful election petition. All Councillors are required to complete a declaration of Acceptance of Office and to provide a written undertaking that they accept the Council’s Code of Conduct.
Individual councillors work together to serve the community and to help the Council to make decisions on behalf of the local community. Councillors contribute to the work of the council by suggesting ideas, engaging in constructive debate and by responding to the needs and views of the community representing their constituents. Councillors comment on proposals to ensure the best outcome and vote to enable the council to make decisions. Councillors must accept the decisions of the Council as a whole even if they do not agree with it. In such circumstances a Councillor may ask for a vote against a resolution to be recorded. Councillors are required to behave in an ethical way and to declare an interest when necessary.
The Chairman is elected by the members of the Council at the Annual Council meeting and serves for twelve months under Section 15 (1) of the Local Government Act 1972. The Chairman’s main role is to run council meetings.
The Chairman is responsible for ensuring that effective and lawful decisions are taken at meetings of the council and, assisted by the clerk, guides activities by managing the meetings of the council. The Chairman is responsible for involving all councillors in discussion and ensuring that councillors keep to the point. The Chairman summarises the debate and facilitates the making of clear resolutions and is responsible for keeping discussions moving so that the meeting is not too long. The Chairman has a casting vote. His/her first vote is a personal vote as a member of the council. If there is a tied vote, the Chairman can have a second, casting vote.
The Chairman will often be the public face of the council and will represent the council at official events. He/she may be asked to speak on behalf of the council in such circumstances should only expresses the agreed views of the council and not his/her personal views. The Chairman cannot legally make a decision on behalf of the council.
The Local Government Act of 1894 created civil parish councils effectively excluding the church from local government. Local government was further reformed in 1974 following the Local Government Act of 1972 with the result that parish councils had more freedom to operate without consents from central government. A parish council is a body corporate under section 14 (3) of the Local Government Act 1972, which means that it is an ‘it’ in law and that the decisions it takes are the responsibility of the council as a whole.
The council represents and serves the whole community. The council is responsible for the services it provides. It establishes policies for action and decides how money will be raised and spent on behalf of the community. It is responsible for spending public money lawfully and achieving the best value for money. Except in certain circumstances (Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960) council meetings are open to the public. The council as a body decides whether to work in partnership with other organisations and it often serves (through representatives) on other bodies. An individual councillor (including the Chairman) cannot make a decision on behalf of the council so when working in partnership, councillors must always remember that they represent the council as a corporate body.
The Role of a Parish Councillor
A councillor is a member of the council and is normally elected for a term of four years. People of any political or religious persuasion are eligible to become a councillor, although their personal views should not extend into their parish council work.
They are elected to represent the interests of the local community as a whole and promote a harmonious local environment. The number of elected councillors depends on the size of the area.
Local councils are the first tier of governance and are the first point of contact for anyone concerned with a community issue. They are democratically elected local authorities and exist in England, Wales and Scotland. The term ‘local council’ is synonymous with ‘parish council’, ‘town council’ and ‘community council’.
Local councils are made up of locally elected councillors. They are legally obliged to hold at least one meeting a year. Most meet on a six-weekly cycle to discuss council business and hear from local residents. In addition to this, any committees or sub-committees dealing with specific subjects must also hold regular open sessions, at which members of the public can speak. District councillors regularly attend parish meetings to report back to the district on developments at parish level. County, unitary and metropolitan councillors are also invited to attend parish meetings when the parish council feels it is appropriate, and they have a standing invitation to attend and report at the annual assembly.
Councillors attend meetings of the full council and often participate in committees that deal with specific areas of council business. Councillors take collective decisions that form the policy of the council.
Being a Parish Councillor can be an interesting and rewarding experience.
The Role of a Parish Clerk
The clerk is employed by the council, under section 112 (1) of the Local Government Act 1972, to provide administrative support for the council’s activities. Any other staff, although employed by the council, answer to the clerk who is their manager and is responsible for their performance.
The clerk’s primary responsibility is to advise the council on whether its decisions are lawful and to recommend ways in which decisions can be implemented. To help with this, the Clerk can be asked to research topics of concern to the council and provide unbiased information to help the council to make appropriate choices.
The clerk has a wide range of other responsibilities which are set out in his/her job description. The clerk must recognise that the council is responsible for all decisions and that he/she takes instructions from the council as a body. The clerk is not answerable to any individual councillor – not even the Chairman
The Council must be confident that the clerk is, at all times, independent, objective and professional.
‘Proper officer’ is a title used in statute. It refers to the appropriate officer for the relevant function. In town and parish councils, the proper officer is normally the clerk. In financial matters, the proper officer is known as the Responsible Financial Officer.
Code of Conduct