What is a Parish Council?
There are approximately 8,500 parish councils in England; in addition there are County Councils, Town Councils, Unitary Authorities etc. Most parish councils were established in 1894 by an Act of Parliament, creating civil parishes that are quite distinct from those of the church.
A typical parish council represents around 1,700 people, but some have much smaller and some much larger populations.
The most effective parish councils will have councillors and a clerk that work as a team to provide a service to the community.
What does a Parish Council do?
The parish council represents the interests of the whole community; these can be diverse and discovering the needs of different groups is an important part of the work of each and every parish councillor. Occasionally there will be a conflict of interest between the groups within the village and making difficult decisions in an open and reasoned way is something that all parish councils must do well. Consultation with the residents is therefore a very important tool.
Powers and Duties
Each parish council throughout England has powers and duties to help the community to thrive. A parish council must not do anything unless it has the legal power to act, granted by law.
Councillors must therefore always ask the question "Does the council have a legal power to act?"
This is especially important when spending public money.