What is a Parish Council

Parish Councils

Parishes are the smallest areas of civil administration in England and provide the statutory tier of local government closest to the people.

What is a Parish Council?

It is a statutory local authority set up under the Local Government Act 1972.  It operates in the area of a defined civil parish or group of parishes.  In Peterborough there are two tiers of local government –Peterborough City Council and /Parish Councils.  Parish 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.  They –

  • Give views, on behalf of the 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 achieve benefits for the parish;
  • Alert relevant authorities to problems that arise or work that needs to be undertaken; and
  • Help the other tiers of local government keep in touch with their local communities.

Their activities fall into three main categories: representing the local community, delivering services to meet local needs, and improving quality of life and community well being.

What powers do Parish Councils have?

Local councils can provide and maintain a variety of local services including allotments, bridleways, burial grounds, bus shelters, car parks, commons and open spaces, community transport schemes, community safety and crime reduction measures, events and festivals, footpaths, leisure and sports facilities, litter bins, public toilets, planning, street cleaning and lighting, tourism activities, traffic calming measures, village greens and youth projects. These existing powers were strengthened by the 2011 Localism Act, including the extension of the “General Power of Competence” to eligible local councils.

The Council also has the power to raise money through taxation, the precept.  The precept is the parish council’s share of the council tax.  The precept demand goes to the billing authority, which collects the tax for the Parish Council.