The Role of Parton Parish Council. What we can do.

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, except Barrow town and Walney and the central urban area of the City of Carlisle. In 2015, both Penrith and Whitehaven elected to create new civil parishes, which will be known as Town Councils. 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 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.

  • 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.

In 2015, the Local Council Award Scheme was introduced to replace the Quality Parish and Town Council award scheme. The new scheme has been designed to celebrate the successes of the very best parish councils, and to provide a framework to support all parish councils to improve and develop to meet their full potential. 

Function Powers and Duties Statutory Provisions


Acceptance of office Duty to sign Declaration Of Acceptance Of Office (Councillors and Chairman)
Local Government Act 1972, section 83
Allotments Power to provide allotments Duty to provide allotment gardens if demand unsatisfied and if reasonable to do so
Smallholdings & Allotments Act 1908, s.23
Administration of the council. Duty to undertake the following: – Appoint a chairman of the council;
Local Government Act s15(1) and (2) LGA 1972
Appoint an independent and competent auditor;
Local Government Act 1972 s 112 (1)
Appoint officers as appropriate for carrying out its functions; Appoint a responsible financial officer (RFO) to manage the council’s financial affairs; the RFO is often the clerk especially in smaller councils;
Local Government Act 1972, Section 151, 
Hold a minimum number of 4 meetings per year, one of which must be the Annual Meeting of the Council.
Local Government Act 1972, Schedule 12, 8(1)
Annual Parish meeting Duty to hold an annual parish meeting.
Local Government Act 1972, s12 para 23
Borrowing money Power for councils to borrow money for their statutory functions or for the prudent management of their financial affairs
Local Government Act 2003 Schedule 1 para 2
Baths (public) Power to provide public swimming baths and washhouses.
Public Health Act 1936 s.221
Bio-Diversity Duty to consider in decision making Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 s.40
Burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria Power to acquire and maintain Open Spaces Act 1906,
Power to provide Sections 9 and 10 Local Government Act 1972, s.214
Power to agree to maintain monuments and memorials
Parish Councils and Burial, Authorities (Miscellaneous, Provisions) Act 1970, s.1
Power to contribute towards expenses of cemeteries
Local Government Act 1972, s.214(6)
Bus shelters Power to provide and maintain bus shelters Local Government (Misc. shelters Prov.) Act 1953, s.4
Byelaws Power to make byelaws in regard to pleasure grounds
Public Health Act 1875, s.164
Cycle Parks Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.57(7)
Baths and washhouses Public Health Act 1936, s.22
Open spaces and burial grounds
Open Spaces Act, 1906, s.15
Mortuaries and post-mortem rooms
Public Health Act 1936, s.198
Charities Duties in respect of parochial charities
Charities Act 1993, s.79
Power to act as charity trustees
Local Government Act 1972 s. 139(1)
Clocks Power to provide public clocks
Parish Councils Act 1957, s.2
Closed churchyards Powers to maintain and a Duty to decide whether to adopt a closed churchyard, if asked to do so by the Parochial Church Council
LGA 1972 s.215
Commons and Common pastures Powers in relation to inclosure, regulation and management and provision of common pasture
Inclosure Act 1845

Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908, s.34
Community centres Power to provide and equip buildings for use of clubs, having athletic, social or educational objectives
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s.19
Power to acquire, provide and furnish community buildings
Local Government Act 1972, s.133
Conference facilities Power to provide and encourage the use of facilities
Local Government Act 1972, s.144
Crime prevention Power to spend money on various crime prevention measures.
Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.31
Duty to do what it can do to prevent crime and disorder.
Crime and Disorder Act 1998 s.17
Drainage Power to deal with ponds and ditches
Public Health Act 1936, s.260
Employment Duty to comply with Employment Law Employment Act 2002

Employment Relations Act 2004

Employment Act 2008

The Work & Families Act 2006

Equality Act 2010, s.149 and schedule 19

Human Rights Act 1998 s.6
Entertainment and the Arts Provision of entertainment and support of the arts
LGA 1972, s.145
Environment Power to issue fixed penalty notices for litter, graffiti and offences under dog control orders
Clean neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, s.19 s.30 Part 6
The “Free Resource” Power to spend a sum of money for the benefit of some or all of the parishioners. The expenditure must be commensurate with the benefit
Local Government Act 1972 s.137
Freedom of Information Duty to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act and Data Protection Act.
Freedom of Information Act 2000 Data Protection Act 1998
General Power of Competence Power for an eligible council to do anything subject to statutory prohibitions, restrictions and limitations which include those in place before or after the introduction of the general power of competence.
Localism Act 2011, s.1- 8
Gifts Power to accept gifts
LGA 1972, s.139
Highways Power to repair and maintain public footpaths and Bridleways
Highways Act 1980, ss. 43,50
Highways Power to light roads and public places Parish Councils Act 1957 s.3

Highways Act 1980, s301
Provision of litter bins
Litter Act 1983, ss.5,6
Power to provide parking places for vehicles, bicycles and motor cycles
Road Traffic Regulation Act1984 s.57, 63
Power to enter into an agreement as to dedication and widening
Highways Act 1980 ss.30, 72
Power to provide roadside seats and shelters
Parish Councils Act 1957 s.1
Consent of parish council required for ending maintenance of highway at public expense, or for stopping up or diversion of highway.
Highways Act 1980, ss.47,116
Power to complain to district council about the protection of rights of way and roadside waste
Highways Act 1908, s.130
Power to provide certain traffic signs and other Notice
Road Traffic Regulation Act.1984, s.72
Power to plant trees etc. and maintain roadside verges
Highways Act 1980, s.96
Honorary Titles Power to admit to be honorary freemen/freewomen of the councils area persons of distinction and persons have, in the opinion of the authority rendered eminent services to that place or area.
Local Government Act 1972, s.249
Investments Power to participate in schemes of Collective investment
Trustee Investment Act 1961 s.11
Land Power to acquire land by agreement, to appropriate land and to dispose of land LGA 1972, ss.124,

LGA 1972 SS 126

LGA 1972, ss.127

Power to accept gifts of land
LGA 1972, s.139
Litter Provision of receptacles
Litter Act 1983, ss.5,
Lotteries Power to promote lotteries
Gambling Act 2005 s.252, 258
Markets Power to establish or acquire by agreement markets within the council’s area and to provide a market place and market buildings
Food Act 1984 s.50
Minutes Duty to keep minutes Local Government Act 1972, s12 p 41(1)
Mortuaries and postmortem rooms Power to provide mortuaries and postmortem rooms
Public Health Act 1936,s198
Newsletters Power to provide information relating to Matters affecting local government
LGA 1972 s.142
Nuisances Power to deal with offensive ponds, ditches and gutters
Public Health Act 1936, s.260
Open Spaces Power to acquire and maintain land for public recreation
Public Health Act 1875 s.164
Power to acquire and maintain land for open spaces
Open Spaces Act 1906, s.9-10
Parish property and documents Powers to direct as to their custody
Local Government Act 1972, s.226
Duty to deposit certain published works in specific deposit libraries
Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, s. 1
Public buildings and village halls Power to acquire and provide buildings for public meetings and assemblies
LGA 1972, s.133
Precept Power to set the precept
Local Government Act 1972, s.41 (4)
Public conveniences Power to provide public conveniences
Public Health Act 1936, s. 87
Recreation Power to acquire land or to provide recreation grounds, public walks, pleasure grounds and open spaces and to manage and control them Public Health Act 1875, s.164

Local Government Act 1972, Sched. 14 para 27

Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1890 s.144

Open Spaces Act 1906, ss. 9 and 10
Power to provide a wide range of Recreational facilities Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) 1976 s.19
Provision of boating pools
Public Health Act 1961 s.54
Town and Country Planning Right to be notified of planning applications if right has been requested
Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Sched 1, para 8
Tourism Power to contribute to encouragement of Tourism
LGA 1972, s.144
Traffic calming Power to contribute financially to traffic calming measures
Local Government and Rating Act 1997 s.30
Transport Powers to spend money on community transport schemes
Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.26-29
War memorials Power to maintain, repair, protect and adapt war memorials War Memorials (Local Authorities Powers) Act1923,s.1 as extended by LGA 1948 s.133
Water supply Power to utilise any well, spring or stream for obtaining water
Public Health Act 1936 s.125
Websites Power for councils to have their own websites
LGA 1972, s.142
Duty on smaller authorities to publish specific information on a website.
Transparency Code for Smaller Authorities 2014.

Local Government Act 1972 – Summary

Section 1 – 16Lays down the constitution of Parish Councils and Parish Meetings
Section 79 – 99Covers qualification and disqualification, casual vacancies and resignation, interest admission
Section 100Including/excluding the public and press (see Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960
Section 101Allows a principal authority to ask any other authority to discharge a function on its behalf
Section 102 – 109Provides for Committees, Standing Orders and for Parish Meetings to have powers of Parish Council conferred by the Borough/District Council
Section 111Subsidiary powers for a local authority to do anything which helps it to discharge its functions
Section 112 – 119The appointment of staff and insurance
Section 123 – 131Governs land transactions including power to ask district council to execute a compulsory purchase order on behalf of the Parish Council
Section 133Provision of community buildings
Section 134Parish Council can use a school building
Section 135Standing Orders for making contracts
Section 137The power to provide things not otherwise authorised for the benefit of some or all of its parishioners
Section 139Power for Council to accept goods, property or money
Section 141Power for Council to carry out research (village appraisals)
Section 142Power to produce information: newsletters, Citizens Advice Bureau
Section 143Subscriptions to local government associations (i.e. NALC)
Section 144Power to attract tourists and visitors (village signs/Christmas lights)
Section 145Power to promote entertainment and the arts, village celebrations
Section 214Power to be a burial authority
Section 215Closed churchyards
Section 222Power to prosecute or defend in court in the interest of the public
Section 225 – 234Custody and public inspection of documents
Section 235 – 238Byelaws
Section 245Power of Parish Councils which are not grouped with any other to become a Town Council and call its Chairman ‘Town Mayor’
Schedule 12 Part 11Of the act covers procedures and meetings of part time Councils
Part 111Deals with Parish Meetings
Schedule 13Covers financial arrangements
Schedule 26Covers crematoria and cemeteries