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 administration 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 the Principal Authority and is usually 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, and agreed, budget that will withstand scrutiny.