What is a local or parish council?

Local or parish councils are the first tier of local government and play a vital role in engaging with local people and helping to shape their communities. They are generally referred to as local councils or parish and town councils and are uniquely placed to make a major contribution to localism.

Milton Keynes has 48 parishes each with its own governing body.  There are:

  • 30 parish councils
  • Eight town councils
  • Three community councils
  • Seven parish meetings

Each local council is a corporate body, a legal entity separate from that of its members.  It is an elected body in the first tier of local government and the decisions are the responsibility of the whole body. 

You can find out more about local councils in the House of Commons library‚Äôs briefing paper.

What do local councils do?

Central Government is encouraging local councils to play a greater part in their communities and has given them a variety of powers and duties.

Local councils can also influence other decision makers and the Localism Act (2011) has provided local authorities with a General Power of Competence (GPC) which gives eligible councils powers to work with others to provide cost effective services and facilities in new ways to meet the needs of the local community. 

Local councils represent the community, delivering and maintaining services to meet local needs and improving quality of life and community well-being. For example:

  • Allotments
  • Car parks
  • Events
  • Festivals
  • Leisure and sports facilities
  • Tourist activities
  • Youth projects
  • Community centres

How is a parish council funded?

Local councils are funded by council tax and also able to apply for grants such as lottery funding. Some also get income from rents and leases of property that they own.