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Establish a Parish Council

Town and parish councils are the most grassroots form of local government. Town or parish councils enable people to have a big involvement over a small area. They run everything from job clubs to leisure centres, parks to community cinemas, all on behalf of local people. Though parish councils have traditionally existed in the countryside, there is no reason why they cannot be established in towns and cities; recently the first parish council for fifty years was established in London.

We are making it quicker and easier to set up parish councils and there is government help available for people who want to start one. Parish councils can also use other rights featured in this document: for example, they can bid to run local services, develop a neighbourhood plan which covers the parish and list local assets.

Here’s how 

Step 1: draw up the boundaries

These should reflect a common sense ‘feel’ for the community – for example, perhaps it will be centred around the local high street – but also needs to take into account other electoral boundaries.

Step 2: gather support for your proposal

You need to collect signatures in support of your proposal. How many signatures depends on how many people live in the area.

Step 3: submit your petition to the principal local authority

A review of community governance is then carried out and a report will recommend either accepting or rejecting your proposal. If accepted, the principal authority will make a ‘reorganisation order’, so that staff or property can be transferred to the new parish council.

Step 4: arrangements are made for elections to be held for the new parish council

In the meantime, a shadow or temporary council may be set up 

Community Experiences

  • Sevenoaks Town Council manages open spaces, recreation areas, a gym, a community centre and a tourist information centre as well as a cemetery, parks, allotments, public toilets, lighting and grit bins. It also helps the local economy, running a job club and Business Shows. It has a Youth Council and a youth café. The Town Council has taken over the Stag Community Arts Centre which now operates a 2-screen cinema (including a 3D screen), theatre, function and wedding venue, and a youth theatre group, and has developed a very large network of local volunteers.

  • Neighbourhood Manager for Queen’s Park Fabian Sharp "I welcome the measures which will make it easier for other aspiring neighbourhoods to embrace grass-roots democracy. Doing so, puts the community in the driving seat, in charge of local spending and free to do what local people think is best for their area. More is needed to capitalise on the energy in our communities, but this is a welcome move in that direction." 

  • Cllr Ken Browse, chairman of the National Association of Local Councils "As champions for local councils and communities, we are delighted to support the positive steps in making it easier to create new local (community, parish, neighbourhood or town) councils – in previously unparished areas. We believe that this is right considering the overwhelming response from people, communities, and local government to make the process of creating new local councils quicker, easier to understand and initiate. We particularly note and welcome the opportunity to create new parish councils in previously unparished urban areas."

For more benefits and advice visit create a council.

Please note - South Lakeland District is fully parished. Communities can make changes to their parish council or parish meeting as part of the Community Governance Review process. The council last completed a review in 2013. For more information visit  Community Governance Review.