title="Muncaster Parish Council in Cumbria">

Parish Council

The role of Parish Councils?

Parishes are the smallest areas of civil administration in England and their Town and Parish Councils provide the statutory tier of local government closest to the people. (Civil parishes should not be confused with Church of England ecclesiastical parishes and their Parochial Church Councils.)

Within Cumbria there are 268 parishes covering the whole county, except Barrow town and Walney and the central urban area of the City of Carlisle. In 2015, both Penrith and Whitehaven elected to create new civil parishes, which will be known as Town Councils. Of these 268 parishes, 233 are served by a Town or Parish Council that is elected every four years and the remainder have a Parish Meeting that is required to meet at least twice a year. In Cumbria there are three tiers of local government - the County Council, District/Borough Councils and Town/Parish Councils and Parish Meetings.

Town and Parish Councils are an essential part of the structure of local democracy and have a vital role in acting on behalf of the communities they represent. They:

Power and Duties table

Local Councils have a wide range of powers and duties. The following table taken from "The Good Councillor Guide" 2016 sets out the main ones; it is not a complete list of every single power and duty.

Schedule of Powers and Duties


Powers and Duties

Statutory Provisions


Power to provide allotments.  Duty to provide allotment gardens if demand unsatisfied and if reasonable to do so.

Smallholdings & Allotments Act 1908, s.23

Borrowing money

Power for councils to borrow money for their statutory functions or for the prudent management of their financial affairs.

Local Government Act 2003, Schedule 1 para 2

Baths (public)

Power to provide public swimming baths

Public Health Act 1936 s.221

Burial grounds, cemetaries and crematoria

Power to acquire and maintain.  Power to provide.  Power to contribute towards expenses of cemetaries.

Open Spaces Act 1906, Sections 9 and 10.  Local Government Act 1972, s.214, Local Government Act 1972, s.214(6).

Bus shelters

Power to provide and maintain bus shelters.

Local Government (Misc. shelters Prov.) Act 1953, s.4.


Power to provide bye laws for: Places of public recreation, cycle parks public swimming baths, open spaces and burial grounds, mortuaries and post-mortem rooms.

Public Health Act 1875 s.164, Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 s.57(7), Public Health Act, 1936 s.223, Open Spaces Act, 1906 s.15, Public Health Act 1936 s.198.


Duties in respect of parochial charities.  Power to act as charity trustees.

Charities Act 2011 ss.;298-303.


Power to provide public clocks.

Parish Councils Act 1957.

Closed churchyards

Powers to maintain.

LGA 1972 s.215.

Commons and Common pastures

Powers in relation to inclosure, regulation and management and provision of common pasture.

Inclosure Act 1845, Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908, s.34.

Community centres

Power to provide and equip buildings for use of clubs, having athletic, social or educational objectives.  Power to acquire, provide and furnish community buildings for public meetings and assemblies.

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s.19.  Local Government Act 1972, s.133.

Conference facilities

Power to provide and encourage the use of facilities.

Local Government Act 1972, s.144.

Crime prevention

Power to spend money on crime detection and prevention measures.

Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.31.

Ditches and ponds

Power to drain and maintain ponds and ditches to prevent harm to public health.

Public Health Act 1936, s.260.

Entertainment and the Arts

Provision of entertainment and support of the arts.

LGA 1972, S.145.


Power to issue fixed penalty notice for litter, graffiti and offences under dog control orders.

Clean neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, s.19 s.30 Part 6.

The "Free Resource"

Power to spend a sum of money for the benefit of some or all of the parishoners.  The expenditure must be commensurate with the benefit.

Local Government Act 1972 s.137.

General Power of Competence

Power for an eligible council to do anything subject to statutory prohibitions, restrictions and limitations which include those in place before or after the introduction of the general power to competence.

Localism Act 2011, s.1-8.


Power to accept gifts.

LGA 1972, s.139.


Power to repair and maintain public footpaths and bridleways.  Power to light roads and public places.  Power to provide parking places for vehicles, bicycles and motor cycles.  Power to enter into an agreement as to dedication and widening.  Power to provide roadside seats and shelters.  Power to consent to a local highway authority stopping maintenance of a highway or stopping up / diverting a highway.  Power to complain to district council about the protection of rights of way and roadside waste.  Power to provide certain traffic signs and other Notices.  Power to plant trees etc. and maintain roadside verges.

Highways Act 1980, ss.43,50.  Parish Councils Act 1957 s.3.  Highways Act 1980, s301.  Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 s.57, 63.  Highways Act 1980 ss.30, 72.  Parish Councils Act 1957 s.1.  Highways Act 1980, ss.46, 116.  Highways Act 1908, s.130.  Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.72.  Highways Act 1980, s96.

Honorary Titles

Power to admit to be honorary freemen/freewomen of the councils area persons of distinction and persons have, in the opinion of the authority rendered eminent services to that place or area.

Local Government Act 1972, s.249.


Power to participate in schemes of Collective investment.

Trustee Act 1961, s.11.


Power to acquire land by agreement, to appropriate land and to dispose of land.  Power to accept gifts of land.

LGA 1972, ss.124, 126 and 127.  LGA 1972, s.139.


Power to provide litter bins in streets and public places.

Litter Act 1983, ss.5.


Power to promote lotteries.

Gambling Act 2005 s.252, 258.


Power to establish or acquire by agreement markets within the council's area and to provide a market place and market buildings.

Food Act 1984 s.50.

Mortuaries and post-mortem rooms

Power to provide mortuaries and post-mortem rooms.

Public Health Act 1936, s198.

Neighbourhood planning

Powers to act as lead body for a neighbourhood development plan or a neighbourhood development order.

Localism Act 2011, Schedule 9, Town and Country Planning Act 1990 ss 61E - 61Q.  Schedule 4B, Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, s.38A.


Power to provide information relating to matters affecting local government.

LGA 1972 s.142


Power to deal with offensive ponds, ditches and gutters.

Public Health Act 1936, S.260.

Open Spaces

Power to acquire and maintain land for public recreation.  Power to acquire and maintain open spaces.

Public Health Act 1875 s.164.  Open Spaces Act 1906, s9-10.

Parish property and documents

Powers to receive and maintain.  Duty to deposit certain published works in specific deposit libraries.

Local Government Act 1972, s.226.  Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, S.1.

Public buildings and village halls

Power to acquire and provide buildings for public meetings and assemblies.

LGA 1972, s.133.

Public conveniences

Power to provide public conveniences.

Public Health Act 1936, s.87.


Power to provide a wide range of recreational facilities.  Provision of boating pools.

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) 1976 s.19.  Public Health Act 1961 s.54.

Right to challenge services that are provided by a principal authority

The right to submit an interest in running a service provided by a district county or unitary authority.

Localism Act 2011, ss.81-86.

Right to nominate and bid for assets of community value

The right to nominate assets to be added to a list of assets of community value and the right to bid to buy a listed asset when it comes up for sale.

Localism Act 2011, ss.87-108.

Town and Country Planning

Right to be notified of planning applications if right has been requested.

Town and Country Planning Act 1990.  Sched 1, para 8.


Power to contribute to encouragement of Tourism.

LGA 1972, s.144.

Traffic calming

Power to contribute financially to traffic calming measures.

Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.30.


Powers to spend money on community transport schemes.

Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.26-29.

War memorials

Power to maintain, repair, protect and adapt war memorials.

War Memorials (Local Authorities Powers) Act 1923, s.1 as extended by LGA 1948 s.133.

Water supply

Power to utilize any well, spring or stream for obtaining water.

Public Health Act 1936 s.125.


Power for councils to have their own websites.

LGA 1972, s.142.