The NALC/Electoral Commission booklet "All About Local Councils" published in 2007 has been updated to 2011.
The booklet gives simplified explanations about the role and work of local councils and their councillors, explains the electoral process and provides a number of case studies highlighting the work of a selection of local councils.
"A guide to becoming a Quality Council" is a short guide for the Quality Parish and Town Council Scheme explaining the benefits of attaining Quality status and explaining exactly what is required of a council to pass each of the tests.
You may find this guide useful if your council is considering making an application for Quality status or if you are curious about the Scheme.
Parish councils currently have a limited number of duties but they all impact directly on the community. The following are all under the remit of parish councils however, the Localism Bill makes provision for councils to take on more responsibility so this list may change within individual parishes.
Burial Grounds, Cemeteries, Churchyards and Crematoria
Bye-laws – the power to make bye-laws concerning:baths and washhouses (swimming pools), cycle parks, mortuaries and pleasure grounds
Clocks – public clocks can be provided and must be maintained
Community Centres, Conference Centres, Halls, Public Buildings
Drainage – of ditches and ponds
Entertainment and the Arts
General Spending – parish councils can spend a limited amount of money on anything they deem of benefit to the community that is not covered by the other specific responsibilities described in this list
Gifts – parish councils may accept gifts
Highways – lighting, parking places, right to enter into discussions about new roads and road widening, consent of parish council required for diversion or discontinuation of highway, traffic signs and other notices, tree planting and verge maintenance
Land – acquisition and sale of
Legal proceedings – power to prosecute and defend any legal proceedings in the interests of the community, power to take part in any public enquiry
Litter - provision of litter-bins and support for any anti-litter campaigns
Planning – parish councils must be notified of, and display for residents, any planning applications for the area. Any comments submitted to the planning authority by the parish council must be taken into account
Postal and Telecommunication Facilities – power to pay a public telecommunications operator any loss sustained in providing services in that area
Public conveniences – provision and maintenance of public toilets
Recreation – provision of recreation grounds, public walkways, pleasure grounds, open spaces, village greens, gymnasiums, playing fields, holiday camps and boating ponds
Rights of Way – footpath and bridleway maintenance
Signs – danger signs, place names and bus stops signs
Tourism – financial contributions to any local tourist organisations allowed
Water Supply – power to utilise stream, well or spring water and to provide facilities for general use