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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.
 
Each parish and town council have a limited amount of duties, as they are local authorities. With agreement of the district council or county council, if they decide to use them, the parish and town council have wide powers. These are certain functions normally carried out by those councils.
 
Parish and town councils should maintain a close relationship with the local community. The public are encouraged to be observers at the council meetings, as they are obliged to arrange at least one meeting for the parish or town council each year. Local electors may attend as they may raise issues of concern.
 
Please see below a table of the powers and duties of parish and town councils.
 
 
Powers And Duties Of Parish Councils
 
Functions
Powers And Duties
Statutory Powers
Agency Arrangements
Power to arrange for the discharge of functions by another local authority
Local Government Act 1972 s.101
Allotments
Powers to provide allotments Duty to provide allotment gardens if demand unsatisfied
Small Holdings Allotments Act 1908 ss 23, 26 and 42
Archives
Power to make records held available to the public and support local archives
Local Government (Records) Act 1962, ss1 and 4
Baths and Washhouses:
Power to provide public baths and washhouses
Public Health Act 1936 ss 221, 222,223 and 227
Borrowing
Power to borrow money for statutory functions
Local Government Act 1972 Sch. 13
Burial Grounds, Cemeteries and crematoria*
Power to acquire and maintain
Open Spaces Act 1906, ss 9 and 10: Local Government Act 1972, s 214
Power to provide
Local Government Act 1972, s.214
Power to agree to maintain monuments end memorials
Parish Council and Burial Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 19970, s. 1
Power to contribute towards expenses of cemeteries
Local Government Act 1972
Bus Shelters
Power to provide and maintain
Local Government (Miscellaneous) Act 1953 s.4
Bye Laws
Power to make byelews for public walks and pleasure ground
Public Health Act 1875, s 164
Cycle Parks
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 s.57 (7)
Swimming pools, bathing places, baths and washhouses
Public Health Act 1936, s 223
Open Spaces and Burial Grounds
Open Spaces Act 1906 ss 12 and 15
Mortuaries and post-mortem rooms
Public Health Act 1936 s. 198
Public Bathing
Public Health Act 1936 s. 231
Hiring of pleasure boats in parks and pleasure grounds
Public Health Amendments Act 1907, s 44(2): Public Health Act 1961, s54
Charities
Duty to receive accounts of parochial charities
Charities Act 1960, s 32
Power to appoint trustees of parochial charities
Charities Act 1993, s 79
Clocks*
Power to provide public clocks
Parish Councils Act 1957,s 2
Closed Churchyards
Powers (and sometimes duty) as to maintain
Local Government Act 1972, s.215
Commons Land and Common Pastures
Powers in relation to inclosure as to regulation and management and as to providing common pasture
Inclosure Act 1845; Local Government Act 1984, s 8(4); Smallholding and Allotments Act 1908, s.34
Power to protect unclaimed common land from unlawful interference
Commons Registration Act1965,s.9
Power to manage commons and village greens under a district council scheme
Commons Act 1899, ss 4 & 5
Conference facilities*
Power to provide and encourage theuse of facilities
Local Government Act 1972, s.144
Consultation
Right to be consulted by principal councils if directed by Secretary of State (England) of by Welsh Assembly (Wales)
Local Government and Rating Act1997, s21; Local Government Act 1972, s 33A
Community Centres and Village Halls
Power to provide and equip premises for use of clubs having athletic, social or educational objectives
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s.19
Crime Prevention*
Powers to spend money on various crime prevention measures
Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s 31
Power to (a) install equipment, (b) establish schemes and (c) assist others in so doing for the prevention of crime
Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s 31
Delegated Functions
Power to assume a function delegated by another authority
Power to ensure effective discharge of Council functions
Power to employ someone to carry out Council functions
 
Local Government Act 1972ss. 101, 111 and 112
Drainage
Power to deal with ponds/ditches
Public Health Act 1936, s. 260
Education
Right to appoint governors of primary schools
School Standards and Framework Act 1988, para 15 of Sch.10
Entertainment and the Arts*
Provision of entertainment and support of the arts
Local Government Act 1972,s145
Environment
Power to act for the benefit of the community by tackling and promoting awareness of environmental issues
Local Government Act 1972,ss 111 and 137
Flagpoles
Power to erect flagpoles in highways
Highways Act 1980, s 144
" Free Resource"
Power to incur expenditure not otherwise authorised on anything which in the council's opinion is in the interests of the area or part of it or all or some of the inhabitants
Local Government Act 1972,s139
Gifts
Power to accept
Local Government Act 1972 s139
Highways
Power to repair and maintain footpaths and bridleways
Highways Act 1980, ss 43 and 50
Power to light roads and public places
Parish Councils Act 1957 s 3:Highways Act 1980, s 301: Local Government Act 1972,Sched. 14 para 27
Provision of litter bins
Litter Act 1983, 5 and 6
Power to provide parking places for vehicles, bicycles and motorcycles
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, ss 57 and 63
Power to enter into an agreement as to dedication and widening
Highways Act 1980. ss 30 and 72
Power to provide roadside shelters, and omnibus shelters
Parish Councils Act 1957, s 1
Consent of Parish Council required for ending maintenance of highway at public expense, or for stopping up or diversion of highway
Highways Act, 1980 ss 47 and 116
Power to complain to District Council as to protection of rights of way and roadside waste
 
Power to provide traffic signs and other notices
Highways Act 1980, s 130
Power to plant trees, etc., and to maintain roadside verges
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s 72; Countryside Act 1968
Power to complain to local highway authority that a highway is unlawfully stopped up or obstructed
Highways Act 1980, s 96
Power to prosecute for unlawful ploughing of a footpath or bridleway
Highways Act 1980, s 130 Highways Act 1980, s 134
Investments
Power to participate in schemes of collective investment
Trustee Investments Act 1962,s11
Land
Power to acquire land by agreement, to appropriate land and to dispose of
Local Government Act 1972, ss 124, 126 and 127
Power to accept gifts of land
Local Government Act 1972s139
Power to acquire land by compulsory purchase
Local Government Act 1972, s 125
Power to obtain particulars of persons interested in land
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976,s 16
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, s 16;: Local Government Act 1972, Sched. 14, para 27; Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1980, s 44; Open Spaces Act 1906, ss 9 and 10; Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 19
Lighting
Power to light roads and public places
Parish Councils Act 1957, s Highways Act 1980, s 301
Litter* and dog fouling
Provision of receptacles Obliged to keep own land free of litter and dog faces
Litter Act 1983, ss 5 an Environmental Protection Act 1990; Litter (Animal Droppings) Order 1991
Lotteries
Power to promote
Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, s 7
Mortuaries and post-mortem rooms
Powers to provide mortuaries and post-mortem rooms
Public Health Act 1936, s 198
Nature Reserves
Power to designate statutory to the nature reserves and marine nature reserves - English Nature can designate sites of specific scientific interest
National Parks and Access Countryside Act 1949, ss 15, 16 and 21; The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1982, ss 36 and 39 and Sched.12
Powers to make management agreements with landowners and the English Nature to manage council-owned reserve land as a nature reserve
 
Nuisances
Power to deal with offensive ditches, ponds and gutters
Public Health Act 1936, s 260
Open Spaces
Power to acquire land and maintain
Public Health Act 1875, s 164; Open Spaces Act 1906, ss 9 and 10; Commons Act 1899
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, s 164; Local Government Act 1972, Sched 14, para 27; Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1980, s 44; Open Spaces Act 1906, ss 9 and 10; Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 19.
Parish Property and Records
Powers to direct as to their custody
Local Government Act 1972, s226
Parking Facilities
Power to provide parking places for motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, ss 57 and 63
Planning
Right to be notified of and power to respond to planning applications
Town and Country Planning Act 990, Sched. 1 para 8; Local Government Act 1972, Sched. 15 para 20.
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 Act 1954, s 51; Telecommunications Act 1984,s97
Public Buildings and Village Halls
Power to provide buildings for offices and for public meetings and assemblies
Local Government Act 1972 s 133
Public Conveniences
Power to provide
Public Health Act 19336, s 87
Public Enquiries
Power to make representations at public enquiries
Local Government Act 1982, s222
Publicise functions
Power to publicise council and local authority functions
Local Government Act 1982, s. 142
Raising of Finances
Power to raise money through them precept
Local Government Act 1982, s150
Records
Power to collect, exhibit and purchase local records
Local Government Act Records) Act 1962 ss 1 and 2
Recreation*
Power to acquire land for or to provide recreation grounds, public walks, pleasure grounds, and open spaces and to manage and control them.
Power to provide gymnasiums, playing fields, holiday camps
Public Health Act 1875, s 164; Local Government Act 1972, Sched 14 para 27; Public Health Acts Amendment Acts 1890, s 44; Open Spaces Act 1906, ss 9 and 10; Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s 19; Commons Act 1899
Provision of boating pools
Public Health Act 1962, s 54
Seats and Shelters*
Power to provide roadside seats and shelters
Parish Councils Act 1957, s 1
Tourism*
Power to contribute to the encouragement of tourism
Local Government Act 1972, s. 144
Town and Country Planning
Right to be notified of planning applications
Town & Country Planning Act 1990, Sched. 1 para 8
Town Status
Power to adopt town status
Local Government Act 1972, ss 245 and 245B
Traffic Calming
Power to contribute financially to traffic calming schemes
Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s 26
Training
Power to train Councillors
Local Government Act 1972. s175.
Transport*
Power to (a) establish car sharing schemes (b) make grants for bus services, (c) provide taxi-fare concessions; (d) investigate public transport, road use and needs; (e) provide information about public transport services
Community Transport Schemes
Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s 26-29
Village greens
Power to maintain, to make bylaws for and to prosecute for interference with village greens
Open Spaces Act 1906, s 15 Inclosure Act 1857, s 12, Commons Act 1876, s 29
War Memorials
Power to maintain,, repair, protect and adapt war memorials
War Memorials (Local Authorities Powers) Act 1923, s 1 as extended by Local Government Act 1948, s 133
Water Supply
Power to utilise well, spring or stream and to provide facilities for obtaining water therefrom.
Public Health Act 1936, s 125
 
This list is intended as a summary of the principle functions of Local Council. It is not intended to be a definitive list of such functions.
Where a function is marked with an asterisk *. A council also has the power to give financial assistance to another person or body performing the same function.

 

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