Town and Parish Councils (Local Councils) provide the first tier of local government and are regarded by most as being the closest to the people. Civil parishes should not be confused with ecclesiastical parishes and their Parochial Church Councils.
Local Councils are an essential part of the structure of local democracy and have a vital role in acting on behalf of the communities they represent.
- represent the views of the local community on planning applications and other proposals that affect the parish
- undertake projects and schemes that benefit local residents
- work in partnership with other bodies to improve the quality of life and opportunity for those living in their communities
- alert the relevant authorities to problems that arise or work that needs to be undertaken within the parish
- help the other tiers of local government keep in touch with their local communities.
Local Councils have a wide range of legal duties and powers, such as the maintenance of community buildings and land and much more. They have the power to raise money through the local council tax (the precept).
For capital projects or other major expenditure items Local Councils may borrow money from any source, including interest free loans from individuals. If the loan is for more than £5 per elector and is for more than 12 months approval must be sought from the Secretary of State via the officers at ChALC.
The Government introduced the “Quality Council Scheme“ in 2003. Quality Councils, tested for efficiency, good organisation and active involvement with their communities, will be given a greater say in how services are delivered in their area and the opportunity to take on some of the services currently provided by other tiers of local government.
The following sections are by way of an introduction to Local Councils, for more detailed information please refer to our ‘New Local Council’ Toolkit. Click here