Power and duties

Parish Councils are local authorities first created by statute in 1894. In law, a Parish Council is a single corporate body and the decisions it takes are the responsibility of the Parish Council as a whole.

The Parish Council is the first tier of local government and the one closest to the community in which it operates.  

 

In England there are four tiers of local government, each serving a greater geographical area and larger population:

  • the Parish Council
  • the District Authority (e.g. East Hampshire District Council)
  • the County Council
  • Regional Government

A Parish Council has a legal duty to ensure that all the rules for the administration of the council are followed. It must:

  • appoint a Chairman of the Parish Council
  • appoint officers as appropriate for carrying out its functions
  • appoint a Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) to manage the council's financial affairs
  • appoint an independent and competent internal auditor
  • hold a minimum of four meetings per year, one of which must be an Annual Meeting of the Council

 

Parliament has given Parish Councils the power to raise and spend money. Parish Councils must decide how money will be raised and spent on behalf of their local community. The Parish Council is responsible for spending public money lawfully and without risk, and for achieving the best value for money.

Each Parish Council is made up of individual councillors who contribute to the work of the whole council by

  • suggesting ideas
  • engaging in constructive debate
  • responding to the needs and views of the community
  • representing their constituents
  • behaving in an ethical way and being open about interests
  • commenting on proposals to ensure the best outcome
  • voting - to enable the Parish Council to make decisions

No individual Parish Councillor (including the Chairman) can make a decision on behalf of the Parish Council.

 
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