What does your Parish Council do?
Parish (or Town) Councils are the most local level of government in England. They are independent of other levels of local government i.e. District and County Councils, though they maintain a close working relationship with both.
The Parish Council consists of volunteers, drawn from residents within the civil parish. They are elected by the residents of the Parish every four years, or co-opted by the existing council members between elections, to represent the interests of the community. They may serve for a period of four years between elections. One of the Councillors is appointed as Chairperson annually and the Council’s work is supported by a salaried Clerk.
Parish Councillors have to abide by a local government code of conduct (link) and declare their financial interests in the parish. Councillors must also declare a personal or prejudicial interest in any matter under discussion at parish council meetings.
Although the legal framework within which they work is such that Parish Councils have quite limited powers, they are able to undertake and support a wide range of activities to benefit their communities. The issues that generally concern parish government are planning, highways, traffic, community safety, housing, street lighting, allotments, cemeteries, playing fields, community centres, litter, war memorials, seats and shelters, rights of way. Parish Councils have always been important in representing their local communities in commenting in detail on policies and actions of other parts of government i.e. national or central government, Northamptonshire County Council and South Northants (District) Council. The most regular example of this is planning where the Parish Council is invited to make independent comments on every local planning application and often holds special meetings to discuss them, though final decisions rest with the District Council.
Date last updated: 05 May 2007 Valid until: 31 Dec 2007