What can local councils do?

The powers which have been vested in Parish, Town and Community Councils being Acts of Parliament are summarised. Each description is brief and is intended to be a general indication.

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 Unitary or County Council for the provision of a car park). 

Local Councils must exercise their powers subject to the provisions of the general law.





Powers & Duties

Statutory Provisions



Powers to provide allotments.

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


Small Holding & Allotments Act 1908


Borrowing money

Power for councils to borrow money for their Statutory functions or for the prudent management of their financial affairs


Local Government Act 2003, Schedule 1, para. 2

Baths (public)

Power to provide public swimming baths


Public Health At 1936, s.221

Burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria

Power to acquire and maintain

Power to provide

Power to contribute towards expenses of cemeteries


Open Spaces Act 1906, Sections 9 and 10

 Local Government Act 1972, s.214

 Local Government Act 1972, s.214 (6)


Bus Shelters

Power to provide and maintain shelters


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



Power to make byelaws for:

Places of public recreation

Cycle parks

Public swimming baths

Open spaces and burial grounds

Mortuaries and post-mortem rooms



 Public Health Act 1875, s.164

 Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.57(7)

 Public Health Act 1936, s.223

 Open Spaces Act 1906, s.15

 Public Health Act 1936, s.198



Duties in respect of parochial charities

Power to act as charity trustees


 Charities Act 2011, ss.298-303

 Local Government Act 1972, s.139 (1)



Power to provide public clocks

Parish Councils Act 1957, s.2


Closed Churchyards


Powers to maintain

Local Government Act 1972, s.215


Commons and common


Powers in relation to Inclosure, regulation, management and provision of common pasture

Inclosure Act 1845; Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908, s.34


Conference facilities


Power to provide and encourage the use of facilities


Local Government Act 1972, s.144


Community centres


Power to provide and equip buildings for use of clubs having athletic, social or educational objectives

Power to acquire, provide and furnish community buildings for public meetings and assemblies


Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s.19


Local Government Act 1972, s.133


Crime prevention


Power to spend money on crime detection and prevention measures


Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.31


Ditches and ponds


Power to drain and maintain ponds and ditches to prevent harm to public health


Public Health Act 1936, s.260

Entertainment and the arts


Provision of entertainment and support of the arts


Local Government Act 1972, s.145



Power to issue fixed penalty notices for litter, graffiti and offences under dog control orders

Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, s.19, s.30, Part 6


General Power of Competence


Power for an eligible council to do anything subject to statutory prohibitions, restrictions and limitations which include those in place before or after the introduction of the general Power of competence


Localism Act 2011, ss.1-8



Power to accept

Local Government Act 1972, s.139



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 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


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 Act 1980, ss.47, 116



 Highways Act 1980, s.130

 Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.72


Highways Act 1980, s.96


Honorary titles

Power to admit to be honorary freemen/freewomen of the council’s area persons of distinction and persons who have, in the opinion of the authority, rendered eminent services to that place or area


Local Government Act 1972, s.249



Power to participate in schemes of collective investment


Trustee Investments Act 1961, s.11



Power to acquire by agreement, to appropriate, to dispose of

Power to accept gifts of land


Local Government Act 1972, ss.124, 126, 127


Local government Act 1972, s.139



Provision of bins

Litter Act 1983, ss.5, 6



Powers to promote

Gambling Act 2005, s.252, 258



Power to establish or acquire by agreement markets within the council’s area and provide a market place and market buildings


Food Act 1984, s.50


Mortuaries and post-mortem rooms

Powers to provide mortuaries and post-mortem rooms


Public Health Act 1936, s.198


Neighbourhood planning


Powers to act as lead body for a neighbourhood development plan or a neighbourhood development order


Localism Act 2011, Schedule 9; Town and Country Planning Act 1990, ss.61E-61Q, Schedule 4B; Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, s.38A



Power to provide information relating to matters affecting local government


Local Government Act 1972, s.142



Power to deal with offensive ditches


Public Health Act 1936, s.260


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


Parish Property and documents


Powers to receive and retain


Duty to deposit certain published works in specific deposit libraries


Local Government Act 1972, s.226


Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, s.1


Public buildings and village hall


Power to acquire and provide buildings for public meetings and assemblies


Local Government Act 1972, s.133


Public Conveniences


Power to provide

Public Health Act 1936, s.87



Power to provide a wide range of recreational facilities

 Provision of boating pools


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

Public Health Act 1961, s.54


Right to challenge services that are provided by a principal authority

The right to submit an interest in running a service provided by a district, county or unitary authority


Localism Act 2011, ss.81-86


Right to nominate and bid for assets of community value


The right to nominate assets to be added to a list of assets of community value and the right to bid to buy a listed asset when it comes up for sale


Localism Act 2011, ss.87-108


Town and Country Planning


Right to be notified of planning applications if right has been requested


Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Sched.1, para.8



Power to encourage tourism to the council’s area


Local Government Act 1972, s.144


Traffic Calming

Powers to contribute financially to traffic calming schemes


Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.30



Powers to spend money on community transport schemes


Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.26-29


War memorials


Power to maintain, repairs, protect and adapt war memorials


War Memorials (Local Authorities’ owers) Act 1923, s.1



Power to utilise wells, springs or streams for obtaining water


Public Health Act 1936, s.125



Power for councils to have their own websites

Local Government Act 1972, s.142




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