There are some 8,350 Parish Councils in England, although London and many other metropolitan areas do not have them. Most Parish Councils were established in 1894 by an Act of Parliament. In Amber Valley, there are 31 Parish Councils including seven created in 1984 (Aldercar & Langley Mill; Alfreton; Codnor; Heanor & Loscoe; Ironville; Somercotes; Swanwick).
Parish Councils are the most local level of government in England. They are independent of other levels of local government, ie. Borough and County Council, however they maintain a close working relationship with both. The powers and duties of parish councils cover a wide range of functions but the level of activity between parish councils can vary considerably. Some meet infrequently (but at least four times a year, including one public meeting) Other larger parishes meet on a much more regular cycle and undertake many duties such as street lighting, managing cemeteries, allotments, commons, village halls, war memorials and markets etc.
Each Parish Council is a corporate body with a legal existence of its own, quite separate from that of its members. Its decisions are the responsibility of the whole body. They have been granted powers by Parliament including the important authority to raise money through taxation (the precept) and a range of powers to spend public money. The accounts of Parish Councils are subject to scrutiny by the District Auditor.
Parish Councils, unlike District/Borough Council and County Councils, are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman. The Council works in co-operation with parishes in the Borough but it has no jurisdiction over the activities of the Parish Councils, other than matters relating to the conduct of Parish Councillors. The Borough Council's Standards Committee has a duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct among Parish Councillors. For further details on the Standards Committee, click the link on this page.
Some Parishes are members of the National Association of Local Councils which provides advice and assistance to Parish Councils. See the link on this page. The contact details for the local branch are:
Derbyshire Association of Local Councils
Aldem House, Baslow Road, Bakewell DE45 1AE
Tel: 01629 816338 or 07472 427483
In February 2006, the Institute of Council Secretaries and Solicitors published a revised version of its Parish Council Toolkit designed to support good governance at the parish level. The document is available to download on this page.