Parishes and Parish Meetings
Each of the district's villages or small towns has a parish council or parish meeting.
For a town or parish council its councillors are elected for four years at a time in the same way as for other councils. By-elections may be held to fill vacancies occurring between elections.
Contact your parish or town council
What powers have parish and town councils to do things for their areas?
Parish councils have more formal powers to do things than are often suspected. They monitor street lighting, they can provide allotments and look after play areas and village greens. They have a hand in communications by maintaining or guarding such things as rights of way, bus shelters and public seats. They can also be involved in the provision of halls and meeting places. They provide village newsletters, guides or leaflets to newcomers - they make village surveys.
Many provide car and cycle parks and others provide public conveniences, litterbins and public seats. They can also prosecute noisemakers or litter bugs. Many appoint charitable trustees and school governors. Very often a cemetery or allotment is managed by the parish council. They have the power to improve the quality of village life by spending sums of money on things, which, in their opinion, are in the interests of the parish or its inhabitants.
The parish council can do these things by actually providing them itself or by helping others (such as volunteers or a charity) financially to do them. Parish councils thrive on volunteers. Parish councils are the cheapest and least bureaucratic kind of local authority. They are funded by a small part of the council tax (called the parish precept) and get no general government grant, so they have every incentive to ensure that they give and get value for money.
Who controls the parish or town council?
The elected chairman controls the business of a parish council meeting. The parish clerk takes the minutes of meetings, carries out the approved policies of the council and ensures the accounts are strictly kept and audited every year.
Parish or town council meetings
Parish council meetings are open to the public and an assembly meeting for all parish electors has, by law, to be held every year in April or May.
Parish boundaries are regularly reviewed by the Local Government Boundary Commission. The aim is to help ensure that parish boundaries correspond to the social communities in which people live.
Parish Council Toolkit
The Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors have produced a toolkit for parish councils which is designed to assist parish clerks in ensuring good governance within their parish councils.
Parish/Town Council Conference
Each year the district council hosts a Parish/Town Council Conference. This includes a keynote presentation and workshops.
Rural Services Community
The Rural Services Community is the community voice for rural services, designed to provide smaller organisations with information and best practice relating to rural affairs. Their forums give members the opportunity to discuss issues relating to rural services and to share information.
The Rural Services Community website is packed full of information and resources for anyone living and working within a rural area.