The Parish Council and its Responsibilities

Parish Councils in England and Wales were established by the Local Government Act 1894. Most of the functions which the Church of England carried out were passed to Parish Councils at that time. Parish Councils are statutory corporations. Although having no physical existence, they have a separate legal personality apart from their members. They never die and exist in perpetuity (unless abolished by or under statute). 

What this means is that the acts of the Parish Council are distinct from the acts of its members and normally, members of the parish council are not personally liable should the acts of the council have some adverse legal effect.A Parish Council can only act within its conferred powers. The Parish Council is the purest form of democracy and has a major part to play in local politics. Your elected Parish Councillors are members of your community and therefore have the advantage of knowing exactly what it is YOU want! 

Powers of Local Councils 


The government is seeking to add to the powers and responsibilities of local/parish councils. To help clarify just what authority a Parish Council has, the following list may be helpful. These are only some of the powers of local councils – The Parish Council has power to do almost anything it wishes in respect of its parish. A Parish Council has the power to:

  • provide allotments, baths and washhouses

  • borrow money for statutory functions

  • acquire and maintain burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria · provide and maintain bus shelters

  • make byelaws for public walks and pleasure grounds, Cycle parks, Public bathing, Swimming Pools, Open Spaces, Mortuaries, Dogs & Dog Fouling

  • appoint trustees of parochial charities

  • provide public clocks

  • protect unclaimed common land from unlawful interference and to manage common land and village greens under district council scheme

  • Community Centres Power to provide and equip Community Centres and to encourage their use for social and educational purposes.

  • install equipment, establish schemes and assist others in crime prevention

  • deal with ditches and ponds

  • appoint governors of primary schools

  • provide for entertainment & promotion of the arts

  • to erect flagpoles in highways

  • incur expenditure not otherwise authorised on anything which in the council’s opinion is in the interests of the area or part of it or all of or some of the inhabitants

  • accept gifts

  • maintain footpaths and bridleways

  • prosecute for unlawful ploughing of a footpath or bridleway

  • plant trees and maintain roadside verges

  • acquire land by agreements, to appropriate land and dispose of land

  • acquire land by compulsory purchase. To accept gifts of land. Power to obtain particulars of persons interested in land.

  • provide lighting for roads and public places

  • provide litter bins

  • promote lotteries

  • acquire and maintain open spaces

  • provide parking places for motor vehicles and bicycles

  • provide public conveniences

  • adopt town status

  • promote tourism

  • contribute to cost of providing traffic calming measures

  • establish car-sharing schemes and make grants for bus services