Councillor workbook: working with town and parish councils

Town and parish councils were established by Act of Parliament in 1894. There are around 9,000 such local councils in England with around 80,000 citizens serving as voluntary but elected parish councillors.

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They are democratically elected and represent some 16 million people across the country. They also perform a number of important roles: as providers and supporters of services; as signposts and access points to services; as representatives and community leaders.

Many ward councillors place great value in having good relationships with their parish tier and see working closely with town and parish councillors as important for gathering local intelligence. Parish councillors will often serve as representatives and advocates for local communities and can be a useful sounding board for local opinion. Town and parish councils also have important rights of consultation.

Your council is likely to have an agreed charter or protocol setting out the respective roles and responsibilities of the different tiers of local government in the area. You may also have dedicated parish liaison officers who can assist you in your dealings with these local councils. But don’t be limited by the formality of any inter-authority arrangements in place – town and parish councils can be invaluable allies for all aspects of your ward councillor role.