The role of Parish and Town Councils

Parish and Town Councils form the most local tier of government. They were established by the Local Government Act 1894, and they have had their roles and duties substantially revised by the Local Government Act 1972.

  • Funding is raised via a ‘precept’, which is a sum of money collected by a local authority on its behalf, through council tax. This is then invested back into the local area to improve services and facilities. There are also other ways in which money can be raised, such as grants and loans
  • Parish and Town Councils cover many rural and urban areas, and there is little difference between a Parish and Town Council. Both provide the same local services and have the same powers and responsibilities. These can include:
    • the maintenance and protection of war memorials;
    • the provision of allotments, including the duty to provide allotments if demanded by parishioners;
    • the maintenance of rights of way, ponds, ditches, public footpaths and bridle-ways;
    • the passing of bye-laws in relation to open spaces, cemeteries and cycle parking; and
    • the provision of public entertainment and support for the arts
    • decision making e.g. where money should be spent, service delivery and policy implementation;
    • monitoring of decision making to ensure efficient and effective services; and
    • local involvement
  • Town and Parish Councils do not have the power to approve or reject planning applications as they are not planning authorities. They do, however, have to be consulted by the Local Planning Authority as part of the process, and as part of this consultation, they can choose to comment on the planning application. Town and Parish Councils/Councillors may therefore be approached by organisations seeking to develop CLH within their area to seek initial support/soundings as to what may or may not, be acceptable
  • Some Town and Parish Councils own land or buildings that may be of interest to CLH groups. The rules governing leases, transfer or disposal are set out in National Association of Local Council (NALCguidance[PD2] 
  • Parish and Town Councils are often the instigators of CLH projects. Although they will not normally involve themselves in delivery, they can help facilitate the creation of new community-led bodies that they can work with to achieve their housing objectives. The relationship established between them and any new CLH organisation is often of critical importance to the successful delivery of CLH schemes. The case study snapshot below is a good example of this working in practice


SCATA (Stocksfield Community Association Trading Arm), Northumberland


Last updated in March 2018