Why local parish and town councils matter

Jonathan Owen, Chief Executive of the National Association of Local Councils, introduces the organisation and explains the vital role parish and town councils can play in supporting communities to flourish. 

Did you know?

There are 10,000 parish and town councils in England collectively known as ‘local councils’ and around 700 in Wales. In England they represent 35million people, raising around £700mil through their small share of council tax, called the precept. Together with other income and resources they invest over £2bn in local communities.

The largest councils have a precept of over £1m a year. The smallest have only a few thousand. 100,000 elected councillors spend over 14m hours a year serving those councils to help change their communities. Over three hundred new local councils have been created in rural and urban areas in the last decade, and more are being set up all the time.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) was set up in 1947 to help those councils and promote their role. We work closely with 43 county associations who provide day-to-day support and training for councils.

They are doing more and more!

As well as running key, very local, services including parks, open spaces, community venues and allotments, they are helping tackle the biggest challenges facing society. Helping tackle climate change: Thame Town Council’s Green Living Plan, Kibworth Beauchamp’s electric vehicle charging points, Bodmin Town Council’s tree planting day. Helping with the cost of living: Northwood’s warm spaces, Coxhoe’s community pantry, Hayward Heath’s coat exchange. They are helping tackle loneliness, promoting health and wellbeing, and supporting affordable housing through neighbourhood plans. They fund youth groups, provide bursaries and grants, create youth councils, and provide youth clubs.

And helping make music!

Local councils organise and support events in their local parks and community spaces. Notable examples include Knutsford Music festival, St Annes on the Sea Music Festival, Lowestoft’s First Light Festival. Many will provide grants to local music organisations. By accessing other funding and loans and through making provision in their neighbourhood plans they can support and build new facilities and venues too.

How can I find out more?

Attend the Making Music event on 20 October 2023 and hear from Will Austin, Town Clerk of Bridport who will highlight the importance of the town council and councillors in their events work, bringing local musicians to the fore. How they support local venues and events (with funding, logistics, ticketing, and promotion), ensuring local artists are included and their rights considered.  

And if you’re interested in getting involved in your community as a councillor, visit our Make a Change, Become a Councillor website and hear directly from councillors about why they got involved. Or attend our upcoming conference Democracy in Action on 14 November 2023.

Jonathan Owen
Chief Executive of NALC

To find out more information about the National Association of Local Councils, visit the NALC website and attend the event on parish and town councils on 20 October. Follow NALC on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram