Council Functions
Council Functions
The powers which have been vested in Parish and Town Councils by Acts of Parliament are summarised as a guide to Councillors and others. Each description is brief and is intended to be a general indication. The powers are listed alphabetically. Where a power is marked with an asterisk the council may, in addition to exercising the power itself, help another body to act by giving financial assistance.

  1. Allotments - Provision and maintenance of allotments for cultivation.
  2. Arts - Developing and improving knowledge of the arts and the crafts which serve the arts. 
  3. Baths - Provision of baths and wash-houses (which in modern terms may mean a launderette). 
  4. Borrowing - Parish and Town Councils can borrow money for up to a maximum of 50 years with consent of the Secretary of State. The Council must have loan sanction consent before Borrowing 
  5. *Cemeteries - Provision and maintenance of burial grounds, cemeteries, crematoria, mortuaries and post-mortem rooms.
  6. Churchyards - Power to contribute to the costs of a churchyard in use and a duty to maintain any closed churchyard where the duty has been transferred by the Church of England.
  7. Clocks - Provision and maintenance of public clocks, on churches or elsewhere. 
  8. Commons - Power to protect any finally registered common which has no registered owner.
  9. Crime Prevention - installation of equipment and establishment of schemes for the detection or prevention of crime; making grants to the police authority for these purposes. This now includes the ability to contribute to the funding of police officers or police community support officers.
  10. Entertainments - Provision of any form of public entertainment and any premises for giving entertainments. (This includes maintaining bands or orchestras and providing for dancing.) 
  11. Halls - Provision of buildings for public meetings and functions, for indoor sports or physical recreation, or for the use of clubs or societies having recreational, social or athletic objects. 
  12. Legal Proceedings - Power to prosecute and defend any legal proceedings in the interests of the inhabitants. Power to take part in any public local inquiry.
  13. Lighting - Provision and maintenance of any footway lighting which lights roads or pavements provided the columns are not above specified heights. 
  14. Litter - Provision of litter-bins in streets and support for anti-litter campaigns
  15. Open Spaces - Provision and maintenance of public open spaces, pleasure grounds and public walks. 
  16. Parking Places - Provision and management of car and cycle parks. 
  17. Parks - Provision and maintenance of public parks and appropriate facilities.
  18. Planning - Local councils have a right to be notified of any planning application affecting their area and to make comments which the planning authority must take into account.
  19. Playing Fields - Provision and maintenance of land for any kind of outdoor recreation, including boating pools.
  20. Ponds - Power to deal with ponds, pools or other places containing filth or matter prejudicial to health. 
  21. Public Lavatories - Provision and maintenance of public lavatories.
  22. Rights of Way - Maintenance of public footpaths and bridleways. 
  23. Roadside Verges - Power to plant and maintain roadside verges.
  24. Seats - Provision and maintenance of public seats on the highway.
  25. Shelters - Provision and maintenance of shelters for general public use and also particularly for bus passengers.
  26. Signs - Power to erect signs which warn of dangers or announce a place name, or indicate a bus stop.  
  27. Swimming - Provision of indoor or outdoor swimming pools or bathing places.
  28. Tourism - Provision of facilities for conferences and encouragement of recreational and business tourism. 
  29. Traffic Calming - contribution towards the cost of traffic calming works provided by highway authorities. 
  30. Transport - establishment of car-sharing and taxi fare concession schemes; making grants for community bus services and bus services for the elderly or disabled; investigation of public transport, road and traffic provision and needs; provision of information about public transport services.
  31. Village Green - Powers to maintain the village or town green. 
  32. General Expenditure Power – Section 137 Local Government Act 1972. In any situation not covered by one of the specific powers described above, a council may spend money on any purpose which in its opinion is of direct benefit to its area or to the inhabitants. The total expenditure by the council on all the cases under its general power must not in any financial year exceed £6.15 per local government elector in the parish or town. 
This list is intended only as a summary of the principal functions of local councils. It is not intended to be a definitive list of such functions. A full list of the acts of Parliament and powers that apply to Parish Councils can be found at the web site of the National Association of Local Councils,