What the Parish Council Does
 
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What the Parish Council Does

Quick Jump.

What is a Parish? 
The Parish Council
What has the Parish Council ever done for me?
How much does it cost?
Who Controls the Parish Council?
Powers and Duties

What is a Parish?

There are two sorts of parishes, whose boundaries do not always coincide. These are a) Ecclesiastical parishes centred on an Anglican church with a parochial church council, and b) the Civil Parishes, which are part of local administration.

A civil parish is an independent local democratic unit for villages, smaller towns and cities and suburbs of urban areas. Each parish has a Parish (or Town) Meeting, and where the electorate exceeds 200, have a Parish or Town council.

The Parish Council

The Parish Councils have their origins in feudal times with the old parochial parishes. Villages were ruled by the Lord of the Manor and villagers were given the opportunity to air grievances to make decisions which affected the whole community at annual Parish Meetings. As time progressed the power of the feudal lords waned and Parish Priests took on roles of leadership. By 1601 Church Vestry Meetings were given the responsibility of levying the poor rate. These were the first effective local taxes. Parishes were grouped together into Hundreds for tax, military and judicial purposes. Halwill was part of the Black Torrington Hundred.

By the nineteenth century demographic changes were starting to expose the limitations of this system of Parishes and Hundreds. Having their roots in land holdings of Lords of the Manor many Parishes were split into discontiguous parts, not necessarily even in the same County. Urbanisation and the increasing importance of non-established religions meant that reforms were needed. Parish Councils in their modern form  were founded by Gladstone's 1894 Local Government Act as the first tier of government. District Councils taking over the role of the old Hundreds. Its councillors are elected for four years at a time. Vacancies occurring between elections are filled by bye-election (if requested) or co-option. There is still an Annual Parish Meeting where the views of the Parishioners are sought. In addition Halwill holds monthly Meetings which are open to the public. Agendas for these Meetings are posted on the Parish notice boards at Halwill and Halwill Junction. The council is the corporation of the village. 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. Details of all your Councillors and the Clerk can be found by clicking the link on the right of this page.

The Parish Council has a number of formal powers. For example, it has the power to maintain and guard things such as rights of way, bus shelters, public seats, small scale street lighting, and provides the village hall and playing fields. 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 it's inhabitants. There are many things which are outside the the Parish Council remit and are properly the business of District, County or Central government. A list of the Parish Council's main Powers and Duties is given below.

What has the Parish Council ever done for me?

Bins, Playing field, Parish Hall, events, footpaths, benches....

How much does it cost?

Parish councils are the most un bureaucratic 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. Like all Parish records the accounts are open to Public inspection.

Who controls the Parish Council?

You do! You elect its 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 encouraged to sit in on the monthly council meetings, and participate when there is a public session.

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 byelaws 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 the use 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 faeces

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.