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About Parish Councils

"All politics is local"
Thomas 'Tip' O'Neill

"The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs
is to be ruled by evil men"

What is a Parish Council?
A parish council is the most local level of government, operating below city and district councils. Parish councils are similar to town councils and in Wales are often known as community councils. Perhaps this name gives a more descriptive label to what parish councils are about. Despite their volunteer ethos, and the limited scope of their powers, parish councils can make a difference to the areas they represent by their detailed street by street knowledge of their constituency. There are over 8,700 parish and town councils across England representing approximately 16 million people.

What Does a Parish Council Do?
A parish council’s scope of work will depend on the nature of the area they represent and the needs of the people. Typically, a parish council could provide:

  1. Parks and recreational areas
  2. Youth activities or projects
  3. Review of plans and planning
  4. Public toilets
  5. Litter bins
  6. Security services (ie community rangers)
  7. Footpaths
  8. Street maintenance (lighting, cleaning, hedge cutting)
  9. Allotments
  10. Maintenance of cemeteries and war memorials
  11. Grants to suitable organisations

Parish councils also represent their local communities to service providers and organisations
(eg police, city councils) to help ensure that their areas get the resources that they are entitled to. For a more detailed view of the Clifton (Without) parish council’s work, go to 'Your Council'.

Where do Parish Councils Get Their Money From?
Like other governmental organisations, parish councils raise their money through a taxation
(a tax precept in government jargon). This taxation is collected as part of the council tax (Rates) and for York residents this is clearly identified on their bill.     

Who Can Become a Parish Councillor?
There are, of course, many ways in which you may help your community. For some people, who live in parished areas, joining the local parish council is a good option. If you are aged over 18 and live in or near a parished area you are probably eligible to join, you do not have to be a member of a political party. If your parish council does not have any vacancies, then you may join it at local election times by standing as a candidate. If however, the council is not full then it may be possible to be co-opted (voted by existing council members) onto the council. Under this circumstance you would not have to wait for an election. 

Once on the council the amount of time you devote to council work will depend largely on you, and how involved you wish to get the various issues that the council has to deal with. You will be expected to attend regular council meetings, in Clifton (Without) this means a two hour evening meeting once a month but if, on occasion, you are unable to attend a meeting that's ok. If you wish to join a parish council, contact an existing menber or the council clerk. For Clifton (Without) parish council go to 'Contact Us'. 
Want to Know More?
Any member of the council or the clerk of the council will be happy to answer your questions. Alternatively, for more information on the nature and history of parish councils, click the following link