The parish is the most ancient form of local government in Europe, and in England has been used for some civil purposes since the eighth century. Parish Councils were established in 1894 and their role and powers substantially revised in 1974. There are in excess of 8,650 parish and community councils in England and Wales.

The role of the council is to act as an organ of local opinion. Other authorities may, and in the case of planning must, consult the parish who are the layer of government closest to the electors and represent their local interests.

Parish Councils have a wide range of powers at their disposal. However, they can only undertake activities for which they have a specific power. The Parish Council also has discretionary spending power (Local Government Act 1972 s137). A parish council may, subject to conditions, incur expenditure which in its opinion is in the interest of, and will bring direct benefit to, its area or any part of it or all or some of its inhabitants.
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The most immediate concerns of the council are to provide a safe and pleasant local environment and promote community identity

In general the Parish Council is responsible for:
· Highways – lighting, parking places, right to enter into discussions about new roads and road widening, consent of parish council required for diversion or discontinuation of highway, traffic signs and other notices, tree planting and verge maintenance
· Rights of Way – footpath and bridleway maintenance
· Streetlighting
· Play area and equipment
· Provision of Litter and dog fouling bins
· Seats and benches
· Signs – danger signs, place names and bus stops signs
· Planning – parish councils must be notified of, and display for residents, any planning applications for the area. Any comments submitted to the planning authority by the parish council must be taken into account
· Legal proceedings – power to prosecute and defend any legal proceedings in the interests of the community, power to take part in any public enquiry
· Noticeboard outside the Village Hall
· Some tree maintenance

Some Examples of Daventry District Council's responsibility are:

  • Community transport
  • Environmental health
  • Housing
  • Leisure facilities
  • Parking
  • Planning
  • Road safety
  • Road and pathway sweeping
  • Rubbish collection and recycling
  • Street cleaning
  • Emptying of dog bins
  • Graffiti Removal
  • Street Name signs