There are over 8,700 parish and town councils representing around 16 million people across England. They form the most local level of government and cover many rural and urban areas.
Not a great deal. They both have the same powers and can provide the same services. The only difference is that a town council has decided that it should be known as a town council instead of a parish council and may have a mayor.
A parish or town council has an overall responsibility for the well-being of its local community. Its work falls into three main categories:
A Parish Council might provide and/or maintain some of the following services:
The Enham Alamein Parish Council works with Test Valley Borough Council, Hampshire County Council and the Enham Trust for other services, for example:
The Parish Council is made up of seven Parish Councillors who meet monthly (except in August) to make decisions on the work and direction of the council. As an elected body, the parish council is an “it” and, through its councillors, is responsible to the people it represents – that is the local community.
Attending a council meeting is the best way to find out what it does. Have a look at the other pages on this website to see what the Parish Council has been dealing with recently.
Each year the Parish Council asks for a sum of money, called a ‘precept’, which is collected through your Council Tax. This money is used by the Parish Council to improve facilities and services for local people and run the Council. Parish Councils can also apply for grants and loans.
Parish or town councillors are elected to represent a geographical area known as a ward or – mainly in smaller parishes– the parish or town council area as a whole. They are elected by people who live in the area.
If the parish is divided into wards, an election is held in each ward, the same way elections are held in borough wards and in county electoral divisions. If the parish doesn’t have wards there is just a single parish election. Most parish elections are on the same cycle, with elections in 2011, 2015, 2019 and so on.
Councillors have three main areas of work:
The day-to-day work of a councillor may include:
As a councillor you can become a voice for your community and affect real change. It helps if you're a "people person" who enjoys talking to other residents but, more importantly, you need to have the concerns and best interests of the parish as a whole at heart. Councillors are community leaders and should represent the aspirations of the public that they serve.
Parish councils are the most local part of our democratic system and are closest to the public. Why don’t you stand for your local parish council and see what difference you can make to your local community?
On average, less than a couple of hours a week. There are some councillors who spend more time than this – and some less, but in the main, being a parish councillor is an enjoyable way of contributing to your community and helping to make it a better place to live and work. Council meetings are always held in the evening – as are most meetings of the other groups which councillors attend on the Council’s behalf.
Talking and listening to your fellow parishioners can be done at any time but you must be able to spend a couple of hours every four weeks (in the evening) attending the Council meeting.
Most people are. However there are a few basic rules. You have to be: