What Parish Councils do

A typical council has councillors with a wide range of skills. The Clerk provides advice on law and procedure and administrative support and also takes action to implement council decisions and policy.

The job of the council is to represent the interests of the whole community. Discovering the needs of different groups in the community, such as the young and elderly, is an important part of a councillor’s work. Parish Plans can provide a valuable opportunity for local people to “have their say". Parish councils can: give views on planning applications and other proposals that affect the parish; undertake projects that benefit local residents; work in partnership with others to benefit the parish; advise relevant authorities of problems or action that is needed; and help the other tiers of local government to engage with, and understand their local communities.

NB. Please note not all powers and duties are applicable to all parish councils 


 Summary of powers and duties



Powers and Duties

Relates to Act


Powers to provide allotments
Duty to consider providing allotment gardens if demand unsatisfied

Smallholdings & Allotments Act 1908, s. 23

Baths and wash houses

Power to provide public baths and wash houses

Public Health Act 1936, ss 221, 222, 223 and 227

Burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria

Power to acquire, provide and maintain shelters

Power to agree to maintain monuments and memorials

Power to contribute towards expenses of cemeteries

Open Spaces Act 1906, ss 9 and 10

Parish Councils and Burial Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act1970, s.1

Local Government Act 1972, s.214

Bus shelters

Power to provide and maintain shelters

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953, s.4
Parish Councils Act 1957, s.1

Bye laws

Power to provide bye laws for:

Pleasure grounds

Cycle parks

Baths and wash houses

Open spaces and burial grounds

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


Duties regarding parochial charities

Charities Act 1993 s. 79

Christmas lights

Power to provide to attract visitors

Local Government Act 1972. s.144

Citizens Advice Bureau

Power to support

Local Government Act 1972, s.142


Power to provide public clocks

Parish Councils Act 1957, s.2

Closed churchyards

Powers to maintain

Local Government Act 1972, s.215

Commons and common pastures

Powers in relation to enclosure, regulation and management, and providing common pasture

Inclosure Act 1845
Local Government Act 1894, s.8(4)

Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908, s.34

Conference facilities

Power to provide and encourage the use of facilities

Local Government Act 1972, s.144

Community centres

Power to provide and equip community buildings

Power to provide buildings for use of clubs having athletic, social or educational objectives

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s.19

Local Government Act 1972, s.133

Crime prevention

Powers to spend money on various crime prevention measures

Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.31


Power to deal with ponds and ditches

Public Health Act 1936, s.260

Entertainment and the arts

Provision of entertainment and support of the arts including festivals and celebrations

Local Government Act 1972, s.145


Power to accept

Local Government Act 1972, s.139


Power to repair and maintain public footpaths and bridle-ways

Power to light roads and public places

Power to provide parking places for vehicles, bicycles and motor-cycles

Power to enter into agreement as to dedication and widening

Power to provide roadside seats and shelters

Power to complain to district councils regarding protection of rights of way and roadside wastes

Power to provide traffic signs and other notices

Power to plant trees etc. and to maintain roadside verges

Highways Act 1980, ss.43, 50

Parish Councils Act 1957, s.3

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.57

Highways Act 1980, s.30

Parish Councils Act 1957, s.1

Highways Act 1980, s.130 (6)

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.72

Highways Act 1980, s.96


Power to participate in schemes of collective investment

Trustee 1961, s.11


Power to acquire by agreement, to appropriate, to dispose of land

Power to accept gifts of land

Local Government Act 1972, ss.124,126, 127

Local Government Act 1972, s.139


Provision of receptacles

Litter Act 1983,ss.5, 6


Powers to promote

Lotteries and Amusement Act 1976, s.7

Mortuaries and post mortem rooms

Powers to provide mortuaries and post mortem rooms

Public Health Act 1936, s.198


Power to provide information relating to matters affecting local government

Local Government Act 1972, s.142


Power to deal with offensive ditches

Public Health Act 1936, s.260
Public Health Act 1875, s.164

Open spaces

Power to acquire land and maintain

Open Spaces Act 1906, ss.9 and 10

Parish property and documents

Powers to direct as to their custody

Local Government Act 1972, s.226

Public buildings and village hall

Power to provide buildings for offices and for public meetings and assemblies

Local Government Act 1972, s.133

Public conveniences

Power to provide

Public Health Act 1936, s.87

Parks, pleasure grounds

Power to acquire land or to provide recreation grounds, public walks, pleasure grounds and open spaces and to manage and control them

Public Health Act 1875, s.164 (Local Government Act 1972, Sched.14 para.27)


Power to provide a wide range of recreational facilities

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions)

Town and Country Planning

Right to be notified of planning applications

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


Power to contribute to organisations encouraging tourism

Local Government Act 1972, s.144

Traffic Calming

Powers to contribute financially to traffic calming schemes

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

Village signs

Power to use decorative signs to inform visitors

Local Government Act 1972, s.144

War memorials

Power to maintain, repairs, protect and adapt war memorials

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

Water supply

Power to use well, spring or stream and to provide facilities for obtaining water therefrom

Public Health Act 1936, s.125


© Suffolk Association of Local Councils


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