There are some 8,500 councils at parish level in England. As the lowest level of local government they are elected bodies, with discretionary powers and rights laid down by Parliament to represent their communities and provide services for them. The Council acts as a sounding board for local opinion, represents and works on behalf of local residents and acts as the link with both East Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire County Council to ensure that any issues in the village are brought forward to the attention of council officials.
Parish councils in their current form were created by the Local Government Act 1894 and their governance, shape and form was consolidated in the Local Government Act 1972 (the Act).
Councillors are elected by the local government electorate and the council has a Chair, who must be one of the elected councillors. A council is a corporate body with perpetual succession and a name. Local councillors are often referred to as “Members” – for example in the Code of Conduct. The number of councillors is fixed by the district (or unitary) council. A parish council’s lawful acts, assets and liabilities are its own and not those of its councillors or any other council.
A council must act within the law. It can only spend, raise or use money if it has a statutory power to do so; otherwise it acts ultra vires (beyond its powers). Parish councils have a wide range of powers under different acts of Parliament. Most of these powers are discretionary, i.e. a council may do something, rather than it must do something.
The council acts as a sounding board for local opinion and works with local voluntary organisations and other tiers of government and have an important role in providing and improving very local services and amenities.