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Powers & Duties

Powers and Duties of Local Councils

Local Councils have a wide range of powers but very few duties.


A duty is an activity that must be carried out (Mandatory) e.g. local councils must appoint a chairman and a clerk.


Statutory powers, granted by Parliament give local councils the choice or opportunity to take action and are therefore discretionary.

The powers which have been vested in the Parish Council by Acts of Parliament are summarised below as a guide to Councillors and others. Each description is brief and is intended to be a general indication. It is not a complete list of every single power and duty.

Like all powers given to public bodies the powers of local councils are defined in detail in legislation and these details may include a requirement to obtain the consent of another body (for example the approval of the Borough Council to trim a tree in the conservation area).

Table of details

The following table describes the powers and duties held by local councils for a number of functions. It also provides details of the regulations under which statutory provisions are made. Information on all these details should be in the hands of the parish council Clerks. 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.

Function Powers and Duties Statutory Provision


Power to provide allotments

Duty to provide allotment gardens if demand unsatisfied and if reasonable to do so

Small Holding & Allotments Act 1908, s.23

Burial grounds, cemetaries and crematoria

Power to acquire and maintain

Power to provide

Power to contribute towards expenses of cemeteries 

Power to agree to maintain memorials and monuments

Open Spaces Act 1906, Sections 9 and 10

Power to provide Local Government Act 1972,s.214

Power to contribute towards expenses of cemeteries Local Government Act 1972, s.214 (6)

Parish Councils and Burial Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970, s 1

Bus shelters

Power to provide and maintain bus shelters

Local Government (Misc. Provision) Act 1953,s.4


Powers to act as charity trustees

Local Government Act 1972, bs.139(1)

Crime prevention

Power to spend money on crime detection and prevention measures

Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.31


Power to repair and maintain public footpaths and bridle-ways.

Power to light roads and public places 

Power to provide parking places for vehicles, bicycles and motor cycles.

Power to enter into agreement as to dedication and widening

Power to provide roadside seats and shelters

Power to consent to or veto a local highway authority stopping maintenance of a highway or stopping up/ diverting a highway

Power to complain to district council about the protection of rights of way and roadside waste

Power to provide certain traffic signs and other notices

Power to plant trees and shrubs and to maintain roadside verges

Power to complain to a local highway authority that a highway is unlawfully stopped up or obstructed

Highways Act 1980, ss. 43, 50

Parish Councils Act 1957, s. 3; Highways Act 1980, s.301

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, ss. 57, 63 

Highways Act 1980, ss. 30, 72

Parish Councils Act 1957, s. 1

Highways Acts 1980, ss. 47, 116

Highways Act 1980, s. 130 

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s. 72

Highways Act 1980, s. 96



Highways Act 1908, section 130



Provision of bins

Litter Act 1983, ss.5,6


Power to provide information relation to matters affecting local government

Local Government Act 1972, s.142

Open spaces

Power to acquire and maintain land for public recreation 

Power to acquire and maintain land for open spaces

Public Health Act 1875, s.164

Open Spaces Act 1906, ss.9 and 10


Power to provide a widerange of recreational facilities

Local Government (Misc. Provisions) Act 1976,s.19

Traffic Calming

Power to contribute financially to traffic calming measures

Local Government and Rating ACt 1997, s.30


Power for councils to have their own website

Local Government Act 1972, s.142


Power to deal with ponds and ditches

Public Health Act 1936, s.260

Christmas lights

Power to provide to attract visitors

LGA 1972, section 144


owers in relation to enclosure, regulation and management

Inclosure Act 1845; Local Government Act 1894, section 8(4); Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908, section 34

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 all or some of the inhabitants

LGA 1972, section 137

Village Greens

Power to maintain, to make bylaws for and to prosecute for interference with village greens

Open Spaces Act 1906, section 15; Inclosure Act 1857, section 12; Commons Act 1876, section 29

Water supply

Power to utilise any well, spring or stream to provide facilities for obtaining water from them

Public Health Act 1936, section 125

War memorials

Power to maintain, repair and protect war memorials

War Memorials (Local Authorities Powers) Act 1923, section 1 as extended by LGA 1948, section 133

Seats and shelters

Power to provide roadside seats and shelters

Parish Councils Act 1957, section 1


Power to collect, exhibit and purchase local records

Local Government (Records) Act 1962, subsections 1 and 2

Parish documents

Power to give directions as to custody of parish documents

LGA 1972, section 226