What is a Parish Council?

PARISH councils from the lowest tier of local government in England, but they play a vital role in your area.

Usually centred in a small village or town, they are the first port of call for many in the community – but what exactly does a Parish council do?

What is a parish council?

A parish council is a local authority that makes decisions on behalf of people in the parish.

They are the lowest tier of local government, falling under district and county councils.

The parish system was established between the 8th and 12th centuries in England.

A parish can range in size from a sparsely populated rural area with fewer than a hundred inhabitants, to a large town with a population in tens of thousands.

Management of local facilities such as parks, playgrounds and swimming pools, as well as buildings for the community such as village halls fall under the parish council's responsibilities.

What is the difference between a parish council and town council?

Parish and town councils are the same, they have the same powers and act within the same legislation.

They are often referred to as 'local councils'. They are represented by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and by county-based associations.

There are 9,000 parish councils in England, 730 community councils in Wales and 1,200 in Scotland.

Parish councils only cover 25 per cent of the population in England.

Do parish councils get paid?

No, parish councillors are volunteers and do not get paid a formal salary but they are given allowances to compensate them for their time spent on council business.

They are allowed to claim expenses, such as mileage for heading to meetings outside of the parish.

The amount varies from a couple of thousand pounds a year to £20,000 or more.

Who do parish councils answer to?

Parish councils are governed by a chairman or mayor.

A parish council must hold an annual meeting at least three other meetings a year.

Every meeting is open to the public, who are encourages to attend.


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