About Parish Councils

For a list of the current Mouldsworth Parish Councillors please click here

WHAT IS A PARISH COUNCIL?

It is the first tier of Local Government and was created by statute in 1894. Before 1894, for many years, the affairs of the parishes had been administered by a vestry, or meeting of the village inhabitants.

Inevitably these meetings were dominated by the squire, the parson and the principal ratepayers and some became ‘select vestries’, only open to those people deemed ‘suitable’ to serve.  In many parishes, particularly rural ones, the system worked perfectly well, in others it was virtually non-existent or very inefficient. For a variety of reasons, including a general movement towards greater ‘democracy’; and a desire to break the power of the Church of England over the lives of nonconformists and non-believers, a Bill was promoted to create Parish Councils. After a difficult passage through parliament and many amendments, this Bill became an Act in 1894. Its effect was to transfer all non ecclesiastical functions from the church to the elected Parish Councils.

Powers and Responsibilities of Parish Councils

The Local Government Act, 1972, is the one most often referred to when describing the modern powers and responsibilities of Parish Councils but it is augmented by many earlier and later Acts, such as The Criminal Justice and Public Order, Act 1994, which, on the face of it, would not appear to relate to Parish Councils but which gave them a long needed ability to pay for measures to combat crime and the fear of crime in villages.

Parish Councils may only spend public money on projects or actions for which they have a Statutory Power. Breaking this rule is likely to result in a PC’s accounts being refused by the auditor and, possibly, the individual councillors being required to repay the money illegally expended.

Finances

Parish Councils are empowered to raise money for their activities through a tax (the "precept") on the village residents which is collected on their behalf by the District Council, as an addition to the District and County Council Tax. This is then paid to the Parish Council in two equal instalments.

Borrowing is allowed, up to a prescribed limit and with permission, but this is of limited help to a small parish because, of course, the loan (plus interest) has to be repaid from slim resources.

Grants may be obtained for specific purposes from various sources, not least the District Council.  Very few, if any of these, can be used for maintenance or general administration purposes.  Limited fund raising can be done but this is so hedged about by restrictions that, in the main, it is hardly worthwhile for a very small council.