What is a parish council?
Parish and town councils in England and community and town councils in Wales are the first tier of local government. They deliver a vast range of services at a community level.
There are around 10,000 community, parish and town councils in England and Wales, made up of nearly 100,000 councillors. These first-tier councils can respond to the needs of the community - delivering the services or representation it most needs.
At present, but not in all locations in England and Wales, there is a three-tiered structure of local government.
Parish Council > District/Borough Council > County Council
Powers and duties
Parish and town councils have a large range of powers, and the activities parish and town councils are involved in are immense. Many parish and town councils are involved in planning, promoting tourism, licensing, community halls, representation, management of town and village centres and providing community halls.
How parish councils work
Parish councils are statutory bodies. Members are elected for a term of four years and councils are funded principally by an annual precept. Income and expenditure for the next financial year are calculated in the form of estimates. The net amount (the precept) is added to council tax, collected by the county, borough or district council (principal authorities) and paid to parishes in two six-monthly instalments. Parish and town councils can apply for other funding such as grant and funding awards, but they do not receive funds direct from central government, as principal authorities do.