About Local Councils



A Local Council is a parish, town, village, neighbourhood or community council. These councils are the first tier of Local Government and parish councils were created by statute in 1894.

There were many anomalies and difficulties encountered in the years between 1894 and 1972, when the present basic Local Government Act came into being. Now Parish Councils, which are now known by many different names but generally referred to as local councils, are closely regulated and the amount of administrational bureaucracy and red tape that has to be dealt with increases month by month or so it seems! On the other hand, local councils are taking on more and more in the way of responsibility and service provision.

Local Councils may only spend public money on projects or actions for which they have a statutory power.

Local Councils are empowered to raise money for their activities through a tax, called the "precept", on the residents of the Parish. This is collected on their behalf by either the unitary council and is then paid to the Local Council in two equal instalments.

It is up to the Local Council how much they demand by way of precept but when setting the annual budget they must take into account how much they intend to spend and on what. They are not allowed to ‘just precept’, they must have a clearly defined budget that will withstand enquiry.

A Local Council can ‘borrow’ money (i.e. arrange a loan) up to a set limit, but permission must be sought first. It has to be for a defined purpose and proof has to be given that the loan can be repaid, with interest.

For more information about local councils and local councillors, see the 
Good Councillor Guide.