Parish councils have a variety of powers and duties, all of which impact directly on the community. In England alone there are over 9,000 parish councils and town councils. They are the tier of Local Government, which are closest to the people.
Parish and town councils should maintain a close relationship with the local community. The public are encouraged to attend council meetings. Local electors may attend and raise issues of concern.
Town and Parish Councils are an essential part of the structure of local democracy and have a vital role in acting on behalf of the communities they represent.
- give views, on behalf of the community, on planning applications and other proposals that affect the parish
- undertake projects and schemes that benefit local residents
- work in partnership with other bodies to achieve benefits for the parish
- alert relevant authorities to problems that arise or work that needs to be undertaken
- help the other tiers of local government keep in touch with their local communities.
The following are all under the remit of local councils:
- Burial Grounds, Cemeteries, Churchyards and Crematoria
- Bus Shelters
- Bye-laws – the power to make bye-laws concerning baths and washhouses (swimming pools), cycle parks, mortuaries and pleasure grounds
- Clocks – public clocks can be provided and must be maintained
- Community Centres, Conference Centres, Halls, Public Buildings
- Drainage – of ditches and ponds
- Entertainment and the Arts
- General Spending – parish councils can spend a limited amount of money on anything they deem of benefit to the community that is not covered by the other specific responsibilities described in this list
- Gifts – parish councils may accept gifts
- Highways – lighting, parking places, right to enter into discussions about new roads and road widening, consent of parish council required for diversion or discontinuation of highway, traffic signs and other notices, tree planting and verge maintenance
- Land – acquisition and sale of
- Legal proceedings – power to prosecute and defend any legal proceedings in the interests of the community, power to take part in any public enquiry
- Litter – provision of litter-bins and support for any anti-litter campaigns
- Planning – parish councils must be notified of, and display for residents, any planning applications for the area. Any comments submitted to the planning authority by the parish council must be taken into account
- Postal and Telecommunication Facilities – power to pay a public telecommunications operator any loss sustained in providing services in that area
- Public conveniences – provision and maintenance of public toilets
- Recreation – provision of recreation grounds, public walkways, pleasure grounds, open spaces, village greens, gymnasiums, playing fields, holiday camps and boating ponds
- Rights of Way – footpath and bridleway maintenance
- Seats (public)
- Signs – danger signs, place names and bus stops signs
- Tourism – financial contributions to any local tourist organisations allowed
- Traffic Calming
- War Memorials
- Water Supply – power to utilise stream, well or spring water and to provide facilities for general use