Information on Parish & Town Councils

The Parish Council is a corporate body, a legal entity separate from that of its members. Its decisions are the responsibility of the whole body. The council has been granted powers by Parliament including the important authority to raise money through the precept and a range of powers to spend public money. The Parish Council is an elected body in the first tier of local government. Other tiers, known as principal councils or authorities, ours is Wakefield Metropolitan District Council and have many legal duties to deliver services such as education, housing, town and country planning, transport, environmental health and social services.

Parish and town councils are the foundation of local government. They are the level of government closest to the people and have a vital role to play in improving local quality of life. They can influence decisions that affect local people, help bring life to local communities and offer a way of making sure services meet the needs of residents.

Powers and Responsibilities of
Parish and Town Councils

The Local Government Act, 1972, is the one most often referred to when describing the modern powers and responsibilities of Parish Councils but it is augmented by many earlier and later Acts,
Parish Councils may only spend public money on projects or actions for which they have a Statutory Power.

Parish Councils are empowered to raise money for their activities through a tax (the “precept”) on the village residents which is collected on their behalf by the District Council (City of Wakefield), as an addition to the Council Tax. This is paid to the Parish Council in two equal instalments.

Borrowing is allowed, subject to strict regulation by the Secretary of State and grants may be obtained for specific purposes from various sources. Income can be obtained from property lettings

Some Statutory Powers of
Parish and Town Councils

Local Government Act 1972

s.101 Assume a function delegated by another authority
s.111 Ensure effective discharge of council functions
s.112 Employ someone to carry out council functions
s.124 Buy or lease land for the community
s.142 Publicise council and local authority functions
s.144 Encourage tourism
s.145 Provide entertainment
s.150 Raise money by precept (Council Tax)
s.175 Train councillors
s.214 Assume responsibility for a closed churchyard
s.222 Make representation at public enquiries
s.226 Acquire historical records
Sch.13 Borrow money
Sch.16 para 20 Comment upon planning applications

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953

s.4 Provide bus shelters

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976

s.19 Provide or support recreational facilities

Open Spaces Act 1906

s.9 Acquire and manage any open space including valuable habitats.
s.10 Administer open space held in trust
Provide lighting for any open space

Commons Act 1899

s.5 Manage common land

Public Health Act 1875

s.164 (see also LGA, 1972 sch.14 para 27) Acquire and manage land for a village green
Provide parks, pleasure grounds, public walks
Make bylaws to prevent dog fouling or to ban dogs

Public Health Act 1961

s.54 Provide a boating lake

 Public Health Act 1936

s.87 Maintain public toilets
s.125 Use a local water course to obtain water
s.260 Maintain a local water course

The Countryside Act 1958

s.27 Erect signs for a right of way

Highways Act 1980

s.30 Create a right of way
s.43 Maintain a right of way
s.96 Plant verges with trees shrubs and bulbs (with Highways Authority consent)

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984

s.57 Take action to relieve traffic congestion
Provide Parking facilities

Parish Councils Act 1957

s.1 Provide roadside seats (with Highways Authority consent)
s.3 (see also LGA 1972 Sch14, para 34) Provide lighting for footways and public places

Litter Act 1983

s.5 Provide litter bins

Smallholding and allotments Act 1908

s.26 Provide allotments
s.34 Acquire land for common pasture

Local Government (Records) Act 1962

s.1 Make community records available to the public
s.2 Purchase records of local interest
s.4 Support local archives

National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949

s.16 Make agreement with English Nature to manage council-owned land as nature reserve.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981

s.39 Local authorities make management agreements with landowners

Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Litter (Animal Droppings) Order 1991

Must keep own land free of litter and dog faeces

There are many other Acts and Statutes which govern the activities of Parish Councils and these are being added to every few months and advice is regularly received from the Yorkshire Local Councils’ Association (YLCA) and the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC).  Training and attendance at various conferences are now considered essential for both Town Councillors and Staff.

Councillors’ conduct and interests
Localism Act

Adoption of the New Codes of Conduct

Notice is hereby given that Upton and North Elmsall Parish Council adopted a new Code of Conduct on 13th June 2012 to meet the requirements of the Localism Act 2011 which came into force on 1 July 2012.

All Councillors are required to abide by a Code of Conduct adopted by the Council which sets out the standards of conduct expected of members of the Council. The Code of Conduct applies to all Councillors and to co-opted members of Committees.

Protocol on Member/Officer Relations

The Nolan Committee’s Report on Standards of Conduct in Local Government recommended that every Council should adopt a formal protocol setting out guidance for appropriate relationships between Councillors and Officers. The Protocol adopted by the Council forms part of the Council’s Constitution.

There seven Nolan principles apply to the conduct of people in public life. They are:

  • Selflessness: you should act in the public interest
  • Integrity: you should not put yourself under any obligations to others, allow them improperly to influence you or seek benefit for yourself, family, friends or close associates
  • Objectivity: you should act impartially, fairly and on merit
  • Accountability: you should be prepared to submit to public scrutiny necessary to ensure accountability
  • Openness: you should be open and transparent in your actions and decisions unless there are clear and lawful reasons for non-disclosure
  • Honesty: you should always be truthful
  • Leadership: as a councillor, you should promote, support and exhibit high standards of conduct and be willing to challenge poor behaviour.