What is a Parish Council?
Parish Councils are an important tier of Government within the UK; A Parish Council is the smallest and most localised tier of local government in the UK and is a properly constituted local authority.
The powers and duties, and the manner in which a Parish Council operates are laid out in local government statutes and regulations; Parish Councils operate at a level below national government and also below district and borough councils. Waltham Parish Councillors are elected and can help on a number of local issues, like planning applications, collaborating with Kent County Council on Highways issues, or helping local organisations to run local sports grounds and community halls.
Parish Councils have a range of legal responsibilities as Statutory Bodies, having duties and powers under a number of different Acts (the Local Government Act 1972, the Public Health Act 1936 and the 2011 Localism Act are three examples).
A parish councils Duties are requirements that must be carried out in order to comply with legislation and are described in the authority’s Standing Orders and Financial Instructions. Examples are the proper conduct and management of meetings; providing and safeguarding information; ensuring effective Governance and Accountability including transparency of decisions.
A parish councils Powers are more wide-ranging and can include issues that may be considered. There are over 60 statutory powers that can be adopted from the provision of allotments through to maintenance of war memorials. Three local examples at Waltham Parish Councils provision of the bus shelter; the installation of a defibrillator in the telephone kiosk and the setting up of this website.
Only a few Councils need to use all their available powers. It is up to each Council to choose what is appropriate for the community they serve. Waltham Parish Council has adopted the General Power of Competence which allows greater flexibility in responding to the needs of the local community.
The Council raises funds by the annual Precept, set in November of each year on the basis of a three-year budget plan. The amount required is notified to Canterbury City Council, added to the Council Tax, and collected on behalf of the Parish Council.
The Council may also raise funds through grants from other organisations.