What is a Parish Council?
Parish or Town Councils are an important tier of Government within the UK; a Parish/Town Council is the smallest and most localised tier of local government in the UK and is a properly constituted local authority.
The powers and duties, and the manner in which a Parish Council operates are laid out in local government statute and regulations; Parish Councils operate at a level below national government and also below district and borough councils. Parish & Town Councils are elected and can help on a number of local issues, like planning applications or running local sports grounds and community halls.
The Parish Council has legal responsibilities as an employer, and sometimes as an owner of public land and buildings.
Parish Councils are Statutory Bodies, having powers under a number of different Acts (the Local Government Act 1972, the Public Health Act 1936, etc.). Only a few Councils need to use all their available powers. It is up to each Council to choose what is appropriate for the community they serve.
The Council raises funds by the annual Precept is set in January of each year. The amount required is guided by the setting of the annual budget in the November preceding.
The Parish Council precept is added to the Council Tax bill and collected by Central Bedfordshire Council (on behalf of the Parish Council).
The Council also raises funds through grants from other organisations.
Parish councils have the right to be consulted by the district, county council or unitary authority on:
• All planning applications in their areas
• Intention to provide a burial ground in the parish
• Proposals to carry out sewerage works
• Footpath and bridleway (more generally, ‘rights of way’) surveys
• Intention to make byelaws in relation to hackney carriages, music and dancing, promenades, sea shore and street
• The appointment of governors of primary schools
Parish councils may also exercise the following powers:
• Sponsoring public events
• Support of the arts and provision of entertainment
• Encouragement of tourism
• Providing grants to local voluntary organisations
• Funding crime prevention measures
• Funding community transport schemes
• Contribution of money towards traffic calming schemes
• Cleaning and drainage of ponds, watercourses and ditches
• Power to obtain water from any well, spring or stream
• Creation of a neighbourhood plan
• Power to acquire or dispose of land
• Withholding of consent to stop up unclassified highways and footpaths
• Appointing trustees of local charities
• Power to make byelaws in regard to pleasure grounds, cycle parks, baths and washhouses, open spaces and burial grounds, and mortuaries and post-mortem rooms.