East Devon District Council

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Guide Become a Parish or Town councillor

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1. What is a Parish or Town Council?

Parish and Town Councils are one and the same.  They are statutory bodies and are local authorities in their own right.  They have a range of statutory powers and so act within a body of legislation.  They are the most local level of government and are sometimes described as the tier of local government most closest to the people.

Such councils can represent the concerns and aspirations of a genuine local community.  They are not a voluntary organisation, a charity, nor anything to do with the Church.

Town Councils are different in that their Chairman can take on the role of Mayor - a figure head for the town and a focus for civic pride.

Some smaller Parish councils do not have a permanent office or any full-time staff and will meet in the local hall or school.  Some larger councils can cover quite large populations and will often provide or help provide a wide range of services, such as local facilities, giving grants to local groups, and maintaining allotments.

The range of powers of local councils continues to change and grow and are many and varied including:

  • the purchase of land and buildings
  • providing and maintaining village greens
  • provision of recreational facilities
  • crime prevention measures including provision of CCTV and traffic calming
  • provision of grants to local organisations

Parish and Town Councils are funded through the council tax, although income can be raised through the services they provide or through delegation of funding.

Parish and Town Councils are strictly audited every year.  Councillors must adhere to a code of conduct and complete a register of interests.  This means that they are fully accountable to the public and assures the community that decisions are always taken in the public interest.