What is a Parish Council and what does it do?

So, what is a parish council?

A bit of history. 

Parish councils go way back in time to the local government act of 1894 when they were formed to rationalize and reform the number of individual bodies which existed for a variety of activities from public health and secular burials to water supply and drainage and a whole host more.  A lot of other legislation was passed in the 20th century particularly the Local Government Act 1972.


Parish Councils are the tier of local government which are closest to their local community.

The primary aims of all parish councils are:

  • To represent the local community and aim to deliver services to meet local needs
  • To help improve the quality of life and community wellbeing.
Your Council:
  • Consists of seven volunteer councillors who are elected to serve for a four year period.
  • An employed clerk who is also the financial officer and first contact for all matters concerning the council.

So your Parish Council deals with the things within our local community that can affect us all:  sometimes in small ways and sometimes in quite significant ways. If you care about what happens in the parish the Parish Council is the means by which these things can be directed and influenced by local people like you.

The Parish Council has powers:

To provide some facilities themselves or contribute towards provision from others.

Your Council:
  • owns and maintains the playing field behind the village hall and the Children’s play area. The latest addition is the outdoor table tennis table.
  • Spends money on the maintenance of footpaths.
  • provides a grant for the maintenance of the churchyard.
  • Provides grants to community organisations
  • Provides a dog litter bin in addition to any provided by the District Council
  • Pays for some of the grass cutting within the parish
  • Maintains the war memorial
  • Pays for the Village Website
  • Maintains and repairs the fingerposts in the parish
  • Has obtained and maintains a defibrillator at the village hall

In addition your Council is consulted on planning applications and passes on appropriate responses to the planning authority.

The Council also responds to a range of consultations by other bodies.

Your Parish Council is funded…
  • By levying a ‘precept ‘ on residents and collected with the local council tax.
  • The parish council has the power to precept (tax) residents to support and carry out local projects.
  • The money can only be raised for a limited number of purposes defined by the 1894 act and further legislation.

Here is a fairly comprehensive list of the Powers and duties which could be used by the Parish Council but the Council only uses those which it considers needed or useful to the Parish.

 Function Powers & Duties
Allotments Duty to provide allotments.

Power to improve and adapt land for allotments, and to let grazing rights

Burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria Power to acquire and maintain

Power to provide

Power to agree to maintain monuments and memorials

Power to contribute towards expenses of cemeteries

Bus shelters Power to provide and maintain shelters


Bye-laws Power to make bye-laws in regard to pleasure grounds

Cycle parks

Open spaces and burial grounds


Clocks Power to provide public clocks
Closed churchyards Powers as to maintenance
Common pastures Powers in relation to providing common pasture
Conference facilities Power to provide and encourage the use of facilities
Community centres Power to provide and equip buildings for use of clubs having athletic, social or recreational objectives
Crime prevention Powers to install and maintain equipment and establish and maintain a scheme for detection or prevention of crime
  Power to contribute to police services e.g. PCSOs
  Duty on Parish Councils to consider crime reduction in every policy and action
Drainage Power to deal with ponds and ditches
Dogs Power to make a Dog Control Order

Power to take enforcement action against those who commit an offence against a Dog Control Order

Entertainment and the arts Provision of entertainment and support of the arts
Flyposting and Graffiti Power to take enforcement action against those that flypost or graffiti
Gifts Power to accept
Highways Power to maintain footpaths and bridle-ways

Power to light roads and public places

Provision of litter bins

Powers to provide parking places for bicycles and motor-cycles, and other vehicles

Power to enter into agreement as to dedication and widening

Power to provide roadside seats and shelters


Consent of parish council required for ending maintenance of highway at public expense, or for stopping up or diversion of highway

Power to complain to highway authority as to unlawful stopping up or obstruction of highway or unlawful encroachment on roadside wastes

Power to provide traffic signs and other objects or devices warning of danger

Power to plant trees and lay out grass verges etc. and to maintain them

Investments Power to participate in schemes of collective investment
Land Power to acquire by agreement, to appropriate, to dispose of

Power to accept gifts of land

Litter Provision of receptacles

Power to take enforcement action against those that litter

Lotteries Powers to promote
Open spaces Power to acquire land and maintain
Parish documents Powers to direct as to their custody
Telecommunications facilities Power to pay public telecommunications operators any loss sustained providing telecommunication facilities
Public buildings and village hall Power to provide buildings for public meetings and assemblies
Public conveniences Power to provide
Sustainable communities Able to be represented on a panel of representatives to be consulted on proposals that would contribute to sustainable communities
Town and country planning Right to be notified of planning applications
Tourism Power to encourage visitors and provide conference and other facilities
Traffic calming Powers to contribute financially to traffic calming schemes
Transport Powers in relation to car-sharing schemes, taxi fare concessions and information about transport

Powers to make grants for bus services

War memorials Power to maintain, repair, protect and alter war memorials
Water supply Power to utilise well, spring or stream and to provide facilities for obtaining water from them
Well-Being Power to well-being of the area (for eligible councils)