Laura Sharman 12 November 2021

Calls for radical expansion of parish and town councils

Calls for radical expansion of parish and town councils image

Parish and town councils should be established in every neighbourhood to help places level up and revive local democracy, a think tank has said today.

In a new report, Onward warns that nearly two-thirds (63%) of England are not covered by a town or parish councils.

It shows that in areas with no town or parish councils, there are more than 12,500 residents for every councillor. However, in the village of Weeford in Staffordshire, which is one of the smallest parish councils in England, there are just 25 residents per councillor.

The report also reveals that people living in the Red Wall are less than half as likely to be covered by a local council as the rest of England.

Double Devo found fully parished local authorities have over five times as many community assets on average as fully unparished areas, with 38% higher rates of volunteering and group membership.

Will Tanner, director of Onward, said: 'The evidence is clear that town and parish councils have a demonstrable impact on the strength of local communities and the prosperity of local communities.

'But just two fifths of England benefits from this form of local governance, and many of the most deprived communities still rely on distant district councils or unitary government to fix their problems.

'A simple way for ministers to level up would be to extend town and parish councils throughout England, and deepen their powers to allow local people to take greater ownership of their destiny.'

The report calls for three reforms including holding an automatic ballot for setting up a town or parish council alongside council elections. It also wants town and parish councils to receive 25% of revenue from the planned Infrastructure Levy, and for them to have the authority to 'pull down' responsibility for neighbourhood functions from the local authority if they believe they could do a better job.

Jackie Weaver, chair of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils, said: 'I welcome this report for its acknowledgement of the strengths (and sometimes weaknesses) of the first tier of local government.

'Those of us that know and understand our parish and town councils can see first hand the positive difference they can make in a community.'

Photo: Peter_Fleming /

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Independent non-executive members of proposed NHS Integrated Care Boards

Do you have the vision to shape the future of health and care for people in your area? Nationwide
Recuriter: NHS

Lead Community Protection Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£37722 - £40869 per annum + value award of £2,472 per annum
2 x Lead Community Protection OfficersCommunity Protection Team(PO3 plus an incremental value award of £2,472 per annum) Permanent Our Community Prote England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

School Organisation Project Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£41,952- £48,663
We’re giving a platform to people inside and outside our community. Because, we’re not just home to the UK’s fast-growing economy. Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Service Manager (Referral and Assessment)

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£60,426 to £74,202 per annum
Can you inspire, encourage, and develop excellent social work practice to make a real difference in the lives of children and young people? Wandsworth, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Asset Management Team Administrator

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£26,544 - £30,618 per annum
The role is what you make it, and the more you put in, the bigger the difference you can make to... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue