Conservation area status
Footpaths & Bridleways
Freedom of Information
Meetings (agendas, minutes)
Powers and duties
A local council, unlike individuals and other corporate bodies,
can't do absolutely anything it likes. It can only do what the law
gives it permission to do. This permission, usually contained in
a statute (Act of Parliament), gives the council the power to act.
In most cases a local council can choose whether or not to exercise
its powers, but in some instances, a council has
no choice - it has a compulsory duty to act in
a particular way.
A power gives permission under law for a local council to take action if it chooses to do so.
Specific powers enable local councils to make certain provisions e.g.
Highways Act 1980 ss. 43 and 50. Power to repair and maintain public footpaths and bridleways.
Parish Councils Act 1957 s. 3 and Highways Act 1980 s.301. Power to light roads and public places.
Parish Councils Act 1957 s.2. Power to provide public clocks.
A duty is a legal obligation placed on a local council e.g.
Local Government Act 1972 s. 15. Duty to elect a chairman annually, at the Annual Parish Council Meeting.
Local Government Act 1972 Schedule 12 para. 7. Duty to hold an Annual Parish Council Meeting in May.
Allotments Act 1908 ss 23, 26 and 42. Duty to provide allotment gardens if demand unsatisfied.
What can local councils do?
The powers which have been vested in Parish, Town and Community Councils be Acts of Parliament are summarised here as a guide to Councillors and others. Each description is brief and is intended to be general indication. Like all powers given to public bodies the powers of local councils are defined in detail in legislation and these details may include a requirement to obtain the consent of another body (for example the approval of the County Council to the provision of a car park). Local Councils must exercise their powers also subject to the provisions of the general law (for example planning permission is necessary for a sports pavilion). Information on all these details should be in the hands of the Clerks of the Council. The powers are listed below.
|Function||Powers & Duties||Statutory Provisions|
|Allotments||Powers to provide allotments.
Duty to provide allotment gardens if demanded unsatisfied
|Small Holding & Allotments Act 1908, ss. 23, 26, & 42|
|Baths and Washhouses||Power to provide public baths and washhouses||Public Health At 1936, Ss 221, 222, 223 & 227|
|Burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria||Power to acquire and maintain
Power to provide
Power to agree to maintain monuments and memorials
Power to contribute towards expenses of cemeteries
|Open Spaces Act 1906, Ss 9 and 10; Local Government Act 1972, s. 214; Parish Councils and Burial Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970, s.1 Local Government Act 1972, s. 215(6)|
|Bus Shelters||Power to provide and maintain shelters||Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1953, s. 4|
|Bye Laws||Power to make bye-laws in regard to pleasure grounds,
Baths and Washhouses
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
|Charities||Duty to receive accounts of parochial charities||Charities Act 1960, s.32|
|Clocks||Power to provide public clocks||Parish Councils Act 1957, s.2|
|Closed Churchyards||Powers as to maintenance||Local Government Act 1972, s.215|
|Commons and common pastures||Powers in relation to enclosure, as to regulation and management, and as to providing common pasture||Enclosure 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 buildings for use of clubs having athletic, social or educational objectives||Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s.19|
|Crime prevention||Powers to spend money on various crime prevention measures||Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.31|
|Drainage||Power to deal with ponds and ditches||Public Health Act 1936, s.260|
|Education||Right to appoint school governors||Education (No.2) Act 1986, s.4|
|Entertainment and the arts||Provision of entertainment and support of the arts||Local Government Act 1972, s.145|
|Gifts||Power to accept||Local Government Act 1972, s.139|
|Highways||Power to repair and maintain public footpaths and bridle-ways. Power to light roads and public places
Provision of litter bins
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, and omnibus shelters. Consent of parish council required for ending maintenance of highway at public expense, or for stopping up or diversion of highway. Power to complain to district council as to 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;
Highways Act 1980, s.301
Litter Act 1983, ss.5,6
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, ss.57,63
Highways Act 1980, ss.30,72
Parish Councils Act 1957, s.1
Highways Act 1980, ss.47,116
Highways Act 1980, s.130
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.72
Highways Act 1980, s.96
|Investments||Power to participate in schemes of collective investment||Trustee Investments Act 1961, s.11|
|Land||Power to acquire by agreement, to appropriate, to dispose of
Power to accept gifts of land
|Local Government Act 1972, ss.124, 126, 127
Local government Act 1972, s.139
|Litter||Provision of receptacles||Litter Act 1983, ss.5,6|
|Lotteries||Powers to promote||Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, s.7|
|Mortuaries and post mortem rooms||Powers to provide mortuaries and post mortem rooms||Public Health Act 1936, s.198|
|Nuisances||Power to deal with offensive ditches||Public Health Act 1936, s.260|
|Open spaces||Power to acquire land and maintain||Public health Act 1875, s.164
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|
|Postal and telecommunications facilities||Power to pay the Post Office, British Telecommunications or any other public telecommunications operator any loss sustained providing post or telegraph office or telecommunication facilities||Post Office Act 1953, s.51;
Telecommunications Act 1984, s.97
|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|
|Recreation||Power to acquire land for or to provide recreation grounds, public walks, pleasure grounds and open spaces and to manage and control them
Power to provide gymnasiums, playing fields, holiday camps
Provision of boating pools
|Public Health Act 1875, s.164
Local Government Act 1972, Sched.14 para.27
Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1890 s.44
Open Spaces Act 1906, ss.9 and 10
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s.19
Public Health Act 1961, s.54
|Town and Country Planning||Right to be notified of planning applications||Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Sched.1, para.8|
|Tourism||Power to contribute to organisations encouraging||Local Government Act 1972, s.144|
|Traffic Calming||Powers to contribute financially to traffic calming schemes||Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.30|
|Transport||Powers to spend money on community transport schemes||Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.26-29|
|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 utilise well, spring or stream and to provide facilities for obtaining water therefrom||Public Health Act 1936, s.125|