Town and parish councils
A parish or town council represents the interests of the people of the parish. In a more urban area, a parish council may choose to be known as a town council.
What parish or town councils do
They discuss issues of interest to the town or parish. They have powers relating to planning, provision of recreational facilities, halls, crime prevention, community transport, public toilets, tourism, allotments, footpaths and commons.
How the council works with parish and town councils
We consult with parish councils on matters which affect the parish. This includes planning applications and policies, education proposals, highways issues and any other proposals or plans which will affect, or be of interest to the parish. The views of the parish and town councils must be considered when making decisions.
As part of our commitment to working in partnership with parish and town councils we have developed the Parish Charter.
A parish or town council is made up of on average nine councillors and a parish clerk. The clerk is usually the only paid member of staff, unless there are other staff such as caretakers or groundspeople. Parish councillors are elected volunteers who serve for four years.
Funding and function
Parish and town councils are not funded by central or local government. A charge is made against all households in the parish and collected through council tax. The level of the charge is set by the parish council and reflects the funding it will need for the coming year.
Parish and town councils have powers relating to planning, provision of recreational facilities, halls, crime prevention, community transport, public toilets, tourism, allotments, footpaths and commons, but they are not obliged to use these powers and carry out these functions.
Representing the community
A parish or town council is the tier of local government closest to its community and represents the interests of the people of the parish.
As such the views of the parish and town councils should be given weight by South Gloucestershire Council and central government when determining issues which will affect the parish. It is often thought that parish councils are associated with the parish church in a village, but this is not the case. A parish council representing a more urban area may choose to name itself a town council rather than a parish council.
Consultations are sent to the parish clerk who brings the information to the parish council meeting for discussion and decisions by the councillors. South Gloucestershire Council are committed to working in partnership with the parish and town councils through the development of the South Gloucestershire Parish Charter. The charter sets out how we will involve, consult and assist the parish/town councils and what they will do in return.
The Parish Charter states that we will allow at least 6 weeks for consultation (except on planning applications), unless there are very special circumstances. It is therefore important that all South Gloucestershire Council Departments who consult with parish/town councils keep to this commitment.
The parish and town councils which have signed up to the charter have committed to make every effort to respond to consultations within the 6-week time period.
A further commitment of the Parish Charter is for South Gloucestershire Council to provide summary reports with long consultations (over 4 pages in length). Parish councils receive a large volume of information/consultation from South Gloucestershire Council and other organisations, and summary reports which pick out the key points are intended to make it easier for them to respond.
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