The Parish Council

ParishCouncil1e

The Parish council is a small local authority. Its councillors are elected for four years at a time. The last election in this parish was in 2011. Vacancies occurring between elections are filled by bye-election (if requested) or co-option. The council is the corporation of its village or town.

Each year the councillors choose a chairman from amongst their number. There is also a vice-chairman and a clerk, who is the Proper Officer and the Responsible Finance Officer of the council.

Parish Councils have a number of formal powers. Many provide allotments, look after playing fields, play areas and village greens. They maintain and guard things such as rights of way, bus shelters, public seats, small scale street lighting, and often provide village halls and meeting places. The Parish council can do these things by actually providing them itself, or by helping someone else (such as a charity or volunteers) financially to do so. Parish councils have the power to improve the quality of community life by spending sums of money on things which, in their opinion, are in the interests of the parish or the inhabitants.

Councils are also the focal point for local consultation on matters such as planning applications and Borough Council strategic planning. The parish councillors know the village and can represent its views to other authorities such as District and County Councils. They are entitled to be consulted on planning applications and are often consulted on things like schools and roads. They put the parish’s case at public enquiries.

How much do they cost?

Parish councils are the most unbureaucratic and cheapest kind of local authority in existence. Their funds are a tiny part of the council tax. They get no general government grant, and so have every incentive to be economical. The accounts are strictly audited every year by an internal auditor and the Audit Commission.

Who controls the Parish Council?

You do! You elect the members every four years and you are entitled to go to the annual parish meeting and say what you think. Members of the public are also welcome to sit in on the monthly council meetings, and participate when there is a public session.