The Role of the Parish Council

The Role of Local Councils

Parishes are the smallest areas of civil administration in England and their Town and Parish Councils provide the statutory tier of local government closest to the people. (Civil parishes should not be confused with Church of England ecclesiastical parishes and their Parochial Church Councils.)

Within Cumbria there are 268 parishes covering the whole county, of these 268 parishes, 233 are served by a Town or Parish Council that is elected every four years and the remainder have a Parish Meeting that is required to meet at least twice a year. In Cumbria there currently are three tiers of local government – the County Council, District/Borough Councils and Town/Parish Councils and Parish Meetings.

Town and 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
  • help the other tiers of local government keep in touch with their local communities.

Town and Parish Councils have a wide range of legal duties and powers, such as the maintenance of community buildings and land and much more. They have the power to raise money through the local council tax.

A list of the legal duties and powers can be found on the Cumbria Association of Local Councils website: http://www.calc.org.uk/about/powersanddutiestable.asp

Parish councils are creatures of statute. This means that they are set up and controlled by Acts of Parliament. Law determines

  • what the council must do (its duties)
  • what it can choose to do (its powers)
  • what it cannot do.
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