What is a parish or town council?
There are over 8,700 parish and town councils representing around 16 million people across England. They form the most local level of government and cover many rural and urban areas.
What powers and duties do they have?
Parish Councils have a variety of powers and duties, all of which impact directly on the community.
The degree to which they need to exercise these depends on the nature of the community, for example urban or rural.
It also varies dependent on the services provided by other authorities, e.g. Milton Keynes Council and bodies such as the Park’s Trust. In some cases, e.g. litter bins, it is shared.
In short, it’s not always easy to understand who does what; who owns which litter bin!
If you’re not sure if it’s us, please ask us.
Below is the full list. We’ve highlighted in bold italics those that our Parish Council is most actively focused on.
• 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 public Art
• 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 maintenance of it
• 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 (including dog waste) 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, play areas 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