Powers and Duties

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Powers and Duties of Parish Councils


Local Councils have a wide range of powers and duties. The following table sets out the main ones; it is not a complete list of every single power and duty.

Where a function is marked with an asterisk (*), a council also has the power to give financial assistance to another person or body performing the same function.

LGA 1972 – Local Government Act 1972


Agency Arrangements Power to arrange for the discharge of functions by another local authority LGA 1972, s. 101
Allotments Power to provide allotments.
Duty to provide allotment gardens if demand exists.
Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908, ss 23,26 and 42
Ancillary power Power to do anything that will facilitate, be conducive to or incidental to the discharge of its power and functions Local Government Act 1972, s. 111
Bands and orchestras Power to maintain a band or orchestra or contribute to the maintenance of a band or orchestra in or outside the council's area. Local Government Act 1972 s.145(1) (c)
  Power to charge for admission to performances Local Government Act 1972 s.145 (2)
Boating pools Power to provide a boating pool in a park provided or managed by the council Public Health Act 1961 s 54(1)
  Power to charge a reasonable amount for its use Public Health Act 1961 s 54(3)
Baths and washhouses Power to provide public baths and washhouses Public Health Act 1936, ss 221-223, 227
Borrowing Power to borrow money for statutory functions Local Government Act 2003, Schedule 1 para 2
Burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria* Power to acquire and maintain.
Power to provide
Open Spaces Act 1906 ss 9 and 10
LGA 1972, s214
  Power to agree to maintain memorials and monuments Parish Council and Burial Authorities (Misc. Prov.) Act 1970, s 1
  Power to contribute to expenses of maintaining cemeteries LGA 1972, s214(6)
Bus shelters* Power to provide and maintain bus shelters Local Government (Misc. Prov.) Act 1953, s4
Byelaws Power to make byelaws for public walks and pleasure grounds.
Cycle parks
Public Health Act 1875, s164
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s57(7)
  Public bathing PHA 1936, s231
  Swimming pools, bathing places, baths and washhouses PHA 1936, s223
  Open spaces and burial grounds OSA 1906, s15
  Hiring of pleasure boats in parks and pleasure grounds PHA Amendment Act 1907, s44(2): PHA 1961, 54
  Mortuaries and post-mortem rooms PHA 1936, s198
  Dogs and dog fouling in parks and open spaces PHA 1875, s164 OSA 1906, s15
Car sharing schemes * Power to establish and maintain a car sharing sceme that benefits the council's area or to assist others in doing so Local Government and Rating Act 1997 s.26
Car parks (off-road)

Power to provide and maintain suitable off-road car parking places in the council's area to relieve or prevent traffic congestion or to preserve local amenities


Road Traffic Regulation Act1984, s.57(1)(b)
Charging for discretionary services Power to charge on a cost recovery basis (i.e. not to make any profit) if the council has discretion to provide a service.  he power does not apply if the council has a separate power to charge for provision of a service or it is prohibited from charging for it. Local Government Act 2003 s.93.
Charities Power to appoint trustees of parochial charities

Local Government Act 1972 s.139 (1)

Charities Act 1993, s79

Charities Act 2011 ss 298-303


Power to provide a cinema, or contribute towards the expenses of a cinema in or outside the council's area

Local Government Act 1972 s.145(1)(b)

  Power to charge for admission to a cinema provided by the council Local Government Act 1972 s.145 (2)
Clocks* Power to provide public clocks Parish Councils Act 1957, s2
Closed churchyards Power (and sometimes duty) to maintain LGA 1972, s215
Common land Power to protect unclaimed common land from unlawful interference Commons Registration Act 1965, s9
  Power to manage commons and village greens under a district council scheme Commons Act 1899, ss4 and 5
  Power to provide land in the council's area for common pasture if te council's expenditure can be recovered from any charges it makes for use of the land Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 s.34
Community Gardens Power to provide and maintain open space as gardens in or outside the council's area Open Spaces Act 1906 ss. 9 – 10
Community centres and village halls* Power to provide and equip premises for clubs and other athletic, social or educational organisations LG (Misc. Prov.) Act 1976, s19
Conference facilities* Power to provide and encourage the use of conference facilities LGA 1972, s144
Contracts Power to enter into contracts Local Government Act 1972 s.111
Consultation Right to be consulted by principal councils if directed by Secretary of State LG and Rating Act 1997,S21: LGA 1972, s33A
Crime prevention* Power to (a) install equipment (b) establish schemes and (c) assist others in so doing for the prevention of crime LG and Rating Act 1997, s31
Drainage Power to deal with ditches and ponds PHA 1936, s260
Dog control orders Power to make orders for dog control offences for land in the council's area Clean Neighbourhoods and Enviroment Act 2005 s.55
  Power to issue fixed penalty notices for offences committed under dog control orders Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 s. 59
Entertainment and the arts* Provision of entertainment and support for the arts LGA 1972, s145
Employment of staff Power to appoint staff LGA 1972 s. 112
Flagpoles Power to erect flagpoles in highways Highways Act 1980, s144
"Free Resource" Power to incur expenditure not otherwise authorised on anything which in the council's opinion is in the interests of the area or part of it or of all or some of the inhabitants LGA 1972, s137
Gifts Power to accept gifts LGA 1972, s139
Highways Power to maintain footpaths and bridleways HA 1980, ss43 and 50
  Power to make a dedication agreement for a new highway or widening an existing highway HA 1980, ss30 and 72
  Power to veto application to magistrates' court to stop up, divert or cease to maintain a public highway HA 1980, ss 47, 116
  Power to complain to local highway authority that a highway is unlawfully stopped up or obstructed HA 1980, s130
  Power to plant trees, etc. and maintain roadside verges HA 1980, s142
  Power to prosecute for unlawful ploughing of a footpath or bridleway HA 1980, s134
  Power to provide traffic signs and other notices Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s72
Honorary titles Power to confer title of honorary freeman or woman Local Government Act 1972, s249
Land Power to acquire land by agreement, to appropriate land and to dispose of land LGA 1972, ss124, 126, 127
  Power to acquire land by compulsory purchase LGA 1972, s125
  Power to accept gifts of land LGA 1972, s139
  Power to obtain particulars of persons interested in land LG (Misc. Prov.) Act 1976 s16
Life-saving appliances Power to provide life-saving appliances (e.g. life belts, defibrillators) Public Health Act 1936, s234
Lighting Power to light roads and public places PCA 1957, s3 HA 1980, s301
Litter* Power to provide litter bins in streets and public places Litter Act 1983, ss5 and 6
Lotteries Power to promote lotteries Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, s7
Mortuaries and post-mortem rooms Powers to provide mortuaries and post-mortem rooms PHA 1936, s198
Newsletters etc. Power to publish information about the council, its services and the services provided in the council's area by other local authorities, government departments, charities and other voluntary organisations. Local Government Act 1972 s 142
Nuisances* Power to deal with offensive ponds, ditches and gutters PHA 1936, s260
Open spaces Power to acquire and maintain open spaces PHA 1875, s164 OSA 1906, ss 9 and 10
Parish documents Power to give directions as to the custody of parish documents LGA 1972, s226
Parking facilities Power to provide parking places for motor vehicles and bicycles RTRA 1984, ss57 and 63
Planning applications Power to be notified of planning applications affecting the council's area and to comment Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Schedule 1, para 8
Precept Power to raise a precept (council tax) Local Government Finance Act 1992, s41
Public buildings and village halls Power to provide buildings for offices and for public meetings and assemblies LGA 1972, s133
Public conveniences Power to provide public conveniences PHA 1936, s87
Public right of way

Power to repair and maintain public footpaths and bridleways in the council's area

Power to enter into agreement to dedicate a road as highway in the council's area

Power to enter into agreement to wide existing highway in the council's area

Power to provide warning notices on footpaths and bridleways

Highways Act 1980, ss43, 50

Highways Act 1980, s30

Highways Act 1980, s72

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s72(2)

Publicity Power to provide information about matters affecting local government LGA 1972, s142
Public toilets

Power to provide public toilets

Power to make byelaws


Public Health Act 1936, s87

Public Health Act 1936, s87


Records Power to collect, exhibit and purchase local records LG (Records) Act 1962, ss 1 and 2
Recreation* Power to acquire land for, or provide recreation grounds, public walks, pleasure grounds and open spaces and to manage and control them PHA 1875, s164
PHAAA 1890, s44
OSA 1906, ss 9 and 10
LG (Misc. Prov.) Act 1976, s19
Rights to challenge services that are provided by a principal authority Power to submit an interest in running a service provided by a borough or county council Localism Act 2011, ss81-86
Right to nominate and bid for assets of community value

Power to nominate assets to be added to a list of assets of community value

Power to bid to buy a listed asset when it come up for sale

Localism Act 2011, ss87-108

Localism Act 2011 ss87-108

Seats and shelters* Power to provide roadside seats and shelters PCA 1957, s1
Swimming pools

Power to provide public baths

Power to charge for use of public baths

Power to make byelaws

Public Health Act 1936, s221

Public Health Act 1936 s222

Public Health Act 1936, s223

Telecommunications facilities Power to pay BT or any other telecommunications operator any loss sustained in providing telecommunications facilities Telecommunications Act 1984
Town and Country Planning Right to be notified of planning applications Town and Country Planning Act 1990, para.8 of Sch.1
Town status Power to adopt town status LGA 1972, ss 245 and 245B
Tourism* Power to contribute to encouragement of tourism LGA 1972, s144
Traffic calming Power to contribute to the cost of traffic calming measures HA 1980, s274A
Traffic signs Power to provide traffic signs on roads Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s72(1)
Transport* Power to (a) establish car sharing schemes; (b) make grants for bus services; (c) provide taxi fare concessions; (d investigate public transport, road use and needs; (e) provide information about public transport services LG and RA 1997, s26
Village greens* Power to maintain, to make byelaws for and to prosecute for interference with village greens OSA 1906, s15;
Inclosure Act 1857, s12; Commons Act 1876, s29
Village halls* (See Community Centres, Public Buildings)  
War Memorials Power to maintain, repair and protect war memorials War Memorials (Local Authorities' Powers) Act 1923, s1 as extended by LGA 1948, s133
Water supply Power to utilise any well, spring or stream to provide facilities for obtaining water from them PHA 1936, s125
Websites Power to provide a website to give information about the council, its services and the services provided in the area by other local authorities, government departments, charities or other voluntary organisations Local Government Act 1972 s 142