There are over 8,700 parish and town councils representing around 16 million people across England. They form the most local level of government and cover many rural and urban areas.
What’s the difference between a parish council and a town council?
Not a great deal. They both have the same powers and can provide the same services. The only difference is that a town council has decided that it should be known as a town council instead of a parish council, and has a mayor.
What services can it provide?
A parish or town council has an overall responsibility for the well-being of its local community. Its work falls into three main categories:
representing the local community
delivering services to meet local needs
striving to improve quality of life in the parish
All Councillors adhere to the Parish Council Code of Conduct and complete a Register of Interests. The Council has Committees to concentrate on particular aspects of its work. The Committees and its members are listed below. It should be noted that where necessary Council co-opts non Councillors onto particular Committees. This has proved particularly beneficial in the past bringing the talents of local residents to bear on specific issues. A present example of this approach is to be found in the makeup of the Old School Committee.
What does the Parish Council do? Whilst the Council has little in the way of direct power it has a reasonable amount of influence and is consulted by the unitary authority Wiltshire Council and national government on a wide range of issues. A good example of this is in relation to planning where the responsible authority is Wiltshire Council. All details of every planning application within the Parish are given to the Parish Council for review and comments are taken into account when decisions are reached.
Another example is highways where Wiltshire Council is the Highway Authority but which consults with the parish over any road scheme or traffic calming measure.
A Parish Council might provide and/or maintain some of the following services: