Parishes are the smallest areas of civil administration in England. Parish and town councils are the closest level of government to the community they represent. The powers of parishes vary depending on how large and how active they are. Some meet infrequently, and are responsible for very few matters. Other, larger, parishes undertake many duties such as street lighting, managing cemeteries, allotments, commons, village halls, war memorials and markets, etc.
The district of West Lindsey comprises 128 Parishes, 78 of these are served by parish or town councils who can be contacted through a parish or town clerk. Some of the remaining parishes have formed parish meetings.
Parish councils are required to hold at least four meetings each year which are open to the public, one of which must be an annual meeting of the full council. Parish councils have certain powers and responsibilities under statute including, for example, the maintenance of community buildings. They usually employ a parish clerk and/or other staff to carry out these duties. They also have power to raise money (a ‘precept’) through the local Council Tax and have a duty to provide accounts.
Parish meetings must assemble annually on some day between 1 March and 1 June and on one other occasion during the year. Their meetings are open to the public but only the registered electors for the parish are permitted to speak and vote on any proposal. A parish meeting is not a corporate body and is therefore unable to own property or sue or be sued. Generally speaking, it is not a local authority and its powers are not as wide as those of a parish council.
The district council recognises the importance of the role of town and parish councils, and parish meetings in serving and representing the needs of the residents and businesses in the district.
In recognising the advantages of allowing a town or parish council to deliver some very local services, such as playgrounds and playing fields, we have developed a parish charter. This reflects the district council’s priority service standards, and the outcomes of discussions around opportunities to allow town and parish councils to have responsibilities - and more of a voice - in the services that we deliver; especially those that impact on a specific area.