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Parish Council abolition

8 Comments 19th May 2015

To remove regulation and save money, abolish the Parish Councils.

Why does this matter?

History

Parish councils are very old dating from the eighth century in varying forms but more recognisably from the sixteenth century. Currently they can also be known as “city council”, “town council”, “village council”, “neighbourhood council” or “community council”.

In past centuries they had substantial duties but these were gradually taken over by other authorities.

Nowadays their duties can include:-

  • Allotments
  • Support and encouragement of arts and crafts
  • Provision of village halls
  • Recreation grounds, parks, children’s play areas, playing fields and swimming baths
  • Cemeteries and crematoria
  • Maintenance of closed churchyards
  • Cleaning and drainage of ponds etc.
  • Control of litter
  • Public conveniences
  • Creation and maintenance of footpaths and bridleways
  • Provision of cycle and motorcycle parking
  • Acquisition and maintenance of rights of way
  • Public clocks
  • War memorials
  • Encouragement of tourism
  • Bus shelters
  • Signposting of footpaths
  • Lighting of footpaths
  • Off-street car parks
  • Provision, maintenance and protection of roadside verges

Representative powers

  • Parish councils must be notified by the district or county council of:
  • All planning applications in their areas
  • Intention to provide a burial ground in the parish
  • Proposals to carry out sewerage works
  • Footpath and bridleway (more generally, ‘rights of way’) surveys
  • Intention to make byelaws in relation to hackney carriages, music and dancing, promenades, sea shore and street naming

Miscellaneous powers

In some cases parish councils possess the following powers:

  • Withholding of consent to stop up unclassified highways and footpaths
  • Consultation on appointment of managers of primary schools
  • Trustees or appointing trustees of local charities

Discussion

It will be noted that their duties:

  1. are not essential or
  2. have already been taken over (or could be taken over) by larger authorities which carry out similar duties.

The one major exception is Planning. Parish Councils are statutory consultees in all Planning applications. This duty could not be taken over by the next authority “up” since this is generally the authority which will grant or refuse approval. But against that many areas do not have Parish Councils so even this task cannot be counted wholly essential. Where it exists, it is certainly useful as some protection for local residents.

Finance

Funding is mainly by precept from District Council Budgets. Essentially it is a charge upon Council Tax. Some other sources may however be claimed. Amounts are hard to ascertain but in a typical small Council could be around £40,000 a year. Precepts in excess of £100,000 have to be the subject of public notice so such precepts are probably unusual. But even based on the lower figure multiplied by the 10,000 or so Parish Councils nationwide, the total bill comes to around £400,000,000 annually.

This is a very large sum for such a limited service. In addition Parish Councils own property, such as Recreation Grounds and Parish Halls. These are made available on licence to local groups but the charges are unlikely to be accurate in market terms.

Conclusion

Abolish the Parish Councils. Discontinue, or transfer to larger authorities, most of their duties excepting a few, like Planning, which could be transferred to the voluntary sector.

Although the Councils are very old, this cannot be the justification for preserving them, especially for a Government which is preparing to make radical alteration to the Second Chamber. Abolition would also save the cost of elections and reduce their numbers at a time when more elections/referenda are planned elsewhere.

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8 Responses to Parish Council abolition

  1. One of the 4 that have abolished a parish council
    not easy- take a look at our website.
    Others are – Birtley,Southsea and Byfleet

  2. Steve Souter-Smith says:

    I totally agree. This level of government can be completely undemocratic in operation. They can have councilors that are not elected by the voters, but are co-opted, they can ignore valid polls and can be totally non representative of the feeling of the electors and yet you can’t get rid of them until after they done the damage!

  3. alison says:

    in Motcombe our parish Cllrs have voted themselves in office and then they vote their friends into office, the village dosen’t want them but how do we get rid of them???
    Would love to not have a parish council at all

  4. Graeme Robertson says:

    You are misleading people by saying Parish Council funding is a charge upon Council Tax. The Principal Authority simply acts as a collection agency for the Parish Council. The Parish (or Town) Council determines how much to charge residents, and the level of the charge has nothing to do with the Principal Authority. You should also include Town Councils in this article since they are the same as Parish Councils, and some precept over 1.% Million!

  5. I know these are old posts but would love to know how these parish councils were abolished. We have a parish council which does not work for the people. Ignore votes of no confidence. have secret meetings, exclude other councillors who are trying to work with the parishoners. We need help!

  6. Pat Brown says:

    Ditto Gabrielle. Our councillors do nothing for their parishoners. We have a residents group and we attend PC meetings. We have items added to the agenda and are only given 15 minutes to talk. They are incredibly rude especially madam chairman. Members of the council are co opted on and no one in the village was aware that there was an election last year so all the same crowd are there. Using our money for their pet projects and have no interest in the real problems and issues in the village. How can we remove them??

  7. kevin cross says:

    The situation that you describe is very common up and down the country.
    However , you cannot remove them as it was you who elected them . You did so principally by not standing for election yourself, and maybe also in some parishes by not voting . So you get what youre given for 4 years and like it or lump it
    To change the situation, You have to get a group together and all stand at the next election to get yourselves elected .

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