Parish & Town Councils

Each of the district's villages or small towns has a parish or town council and these vary in size and what services they provide and look after.

A parish is the most local tier of administration and the first tier of democratic government.

Parish Council Contacts (PDF File, 246kb)

Use the links on the left to find and visit your town or parish council page and find out more about the services they’re providing in your area.  A small part of your council tax goes to your town or parish council to pay for these services - this is called a parish precept. Parish councils are the cheapest and least bureaucratic kind of local authority.  They get no general government grant, so they have every incentive to ensure that they give and get value for money.

Parish Precepts 2023-4 v2.0 (PDF File, 425kb)

Parish and town councillors and officials

Town and parish 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 between elections.

Advice on filling a parish council vacancy (PDF File, 84kb)

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 each year.

What services do parish and town councils provide?

Parish councils have the power to improve the quality of village life by spending money on things which they believe are in the interests of the parish or its inhabitants. 

They provide a range of local services, which can include:

  • monitoring street lighting
  • providing allotments
  • looking after play areas and village greens
  • maintaining or guarding such things as rights of way, bus shelters and public seats
  • providing halls and meeting places
  • creating village newsletters, guides or leaflets to newcomers
  • undertaking village surveys
  • providing car and cycle parks
  • providing public conveniences, litterbins and public seats
  • prosecuting noisemakers or litter bugs
  • appointing charitable trustees and school governors
  • managing cemeteries and allotments is managed by the parish council

Parish or town council meetings

Parish council meetings are open to the public and an assembly meeting for all parish electors has to be held by law every year in April or May.

Neigbourhood Plans

Many parish councils have created, or are in the process of creating, a Neighbourhood Plan. These are powerful tools for communities to have a say on future planning and can set out a vision for an area.

Find out more about neighbourhood planning including places that have created a plan.

Rural Services Network

The Rural Services Network is 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.

Parish council toolkit

The Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors have produced a Parish Council Toolkit (PDF File, 714kb) to assist parish clerks in ensuring good governance within their parish councils. It provides a lot of useful information on what parish councils do and how they operate.