What does a Parish Council do?

The powers which have been vested in Parish Councils by Acts of Parliament are summarised below. Each description is brief and is intended to be a general indication only. Like all powers given to public bodies the powers of local councils are defined in detail by legislation. These details may include a requirement to obtain the consent of another body (for example the approval of the County Council). Councils must also exercise their powers subject to the provisions of the general law. Information on these details is held by the Clerk of the Council.

The powers are listed alphabetically. Where a power is marked with an asterisk the Council may, in addition to exercising the power itself, help another body to act by giving financial assistance. In any situation not covered by one of the specific powers described below a council may spend money on any purpose which in its opinion is of direct benefit to its area or the inhabitants. The total expenditure by the council on all the cases under this general power must not in any financial year exceed £5.00 per government elector in the parish.

  • Allotments – Provision and maintenance of allotments for cultivation
  • *Arts – Developing and improving knowledge of the arts and the crafts which serve the arts
  • Baths – Provision of baths and wash-houses (which in modern terms may include a launderette)
  • Borrowing – Parish Councils can borrow money for up to a maximum of 25 years with loan sanction consent. The Council must have loan sanction consent before borrowing
  • *Cemeteries – Provision and maintenance of burial grounds, cemeteries, crematoria, mortuaries and post-mortem rooms
  • Churchyards – Power to contribute to the costs of a churchyard in use and a duty to maintain any closed churchyard where the duty has been transferred by the Church of England
  • *Clocks – Provision and maintenance of public clocks, on churches and elsewhere
  • Commons – Power to protect any finally registered common which has no registered owner
  • *Crime prevention – Installation of equipment and establishment of schemes for the detection or prevention of crime; making grants to the police authority for these purposes
  • *Entertainments – Provision of any form of public entertainment and any premises for giving entertainments. (This includes maintaining bands and orchestras and providing for dancing)
  • *Halls – Provision of buildings for public meetings and functions, for indoor sports or physical recreation, or for the use of clubs or societies having recreations, social or athletic objects
  • Legal proceedings – Power to prosecute and defend any legal proceedings in the interest of the inhabitants. Power to take part in any public local inquiry
  • Lighting – Provision and maintenance of any footway lighting which lights roads or pavements provided the columns are not above specified heights
  • *Litter – Provision of litterbins in streets and support for anti-litter campaigns
  • Open spaces – Provision and maintenance of public open spaces, pleasure grounds and public walks
  • Parking places – Provision and management of car and cycle parks
  • Parks – Provision and maintenance of public parks and appropriate facilities
  • Planning – Local councils have a right to be notified of any planning application affecting their area and to make comments which the planning authority must take into account
  • *Playing fields – Provision and maintenance of land for any kind of outdoor recreation, including boating pools
  • *Ponds – Power to deal with ponds, pools, or other places containing filth or matter prejudicial to health
  • Post and telephone – Power to guarantee the postal or telephone authorities against a loss on a facility
  • Public lavatories – Provision and maintenance of public lavatories
  • Rights of Way – Maintenance of public footpaths and bridleways
  • Roadside verges – Power to plant and maintain roadside verges
  • *Seats – Provision and maintenance of public seats on the highway
  • *Shelters – Provision and maintenance of shelters for general public use and also particularly for bus passengers
  • Signs – Power to erect signs which warn of dangers or announce a place name or indicate a bus stop
  • *Swimming – Provision of indoor or outdoor swimming pools or bathing places
  • *Tourism – Provision of facilities for conferences and encouragement of recreational and business tourism
  • Traffic calming – Contribution towards the cost of traffic calming works provided by highway authorities
  • *Transport – Establishment of car-sharing and taxi fare concession schemes; making grants for community bus services and bus services for the elderly or disabled; investigation of public transport, road and traffic provisions and needs; provision of information about public transport services
  • *Village green – Powers to maintain the village ot town green