Town and parish councils and parish meetings
Parish Councils and Parish Meetings
What are parishes?
Parishes are the smallest areas of civil administration in England. Eden District is divided into 71 Parishes. They are administered by either Parish Councils or Parish Meetings.
Parish Councils' roles and responsibilities
Parish Councils are required to hold at least four meetings each year which are open to the public, one of which must be an Annual Meeting of the full Council. Parish Councils have certain powers and responsibilities under statute including, for example, the maintenance of community buildings. They usually employ a Parish Clerk and/or other staff to carry out these duties. They also have power to raise money (a 'precept') through the local Council Tax and have a duty to provide accounts.
We arrange and run any elections (held every four years at the same time as District Council elections) and by-elections on behalf of Parish Councils.
Parish Meetings must assemble annually on some day between 1 March and 1 June and on one other occasion during the year. Their meetings are open to the public, but only the registered electors for the Parish are permitted to speak and vote on any proposal. A Parish Meeting is not a corporate body and is therefore unable to own property or sue or be sued. Generally speaking, it is not a local authority and its powers are not as wide as those of a Parish Council. 18 of the Parishes have Parish Meetings, which consist of the local government electors for the Parish themselves.
Parish contact details
Parish councillors' register of interests
For details about the register of interests for town and parish councillors, please refer to the section below entitled 'Acceptance of office and register of financial and other interests'.
Parish Council vacancies
Parish Councillor elections are run every four years when Councillors are elected for a four year term of office. At some point during the term of office a vacancy will occur which will be advertised on the notice boards within the Parish. For details of any current bi-elections, see elections.
Any parishioner can request an election. Requests must be signed by 10 people and sent to Eden District Council. If there is no request for an election, then the Parish Council can co-opt to the vacancy at the next meeting of the Council.
If you are interested in becoming a Parish Councillor, you may wish to speak to the Clerk, who will be able to give you more information. For more information read Parish Council Vacancy - A Guide and Checklist for Parish Council Clerks (PDF: 63 Kb / 2 pages)
What is a Town Council?
A Town Council is the same as a Parish Council, except larger. Town and Parish Councils make up a third tier of local government and are sometimes known as Local Councils. They have Members (Councillors) elected by the people who live in their area. There is a Clerk, who is an employee of the Council, and who looks after the administration of its activities.
The services Town Councils can provide are:
- Public clocks
- Bus shelters
- Community centres
- Play areas and play equipment
- Grants to help local organisations
- Consultation on neighbourhood planning
How does this differ from the District Council and the County Council?
For details of the services provided by the District Council and the County Council, see about your Council.
How many Town Councils are there in Eden?
There are three Town Councils in Eden:
- Appleby Town Council on applebytown.org.uk
- Kirkby Stephen Town Council on kirkby-stephen.com
- Penrith Town Council on penrithtowncouncil.co.uk
What are the powers and duties of a Town Council?
Town Councils have the same powers and duties as Parish Councils. However, Town Councils usually represent more populated urban areas and have a bigger budget. Town Councils can also take responsibility for providing a wider range of services, for example, tourist information centres, civic buildings, public toilets, Christmas lights and cultural events.
Like Parish Councils, Town Councils act as a consultee on planning applications that affect the people who live in their area. It has no power to approve or reject planning applications, only to comment on them. District and County planners should take the views of a Town Council into account when making their decisions. When their decisions are against the recommendations of a Town Council, they should explain why.
Cumbria Association of Local Councils (CALC)
CALC is the association of Town and Parish Council and Parish Meetings in Cumbria. It is run by local councils for the benefit of local councils. It aims to assist councils in their day-to-day work and to represent their interests. Its website provides information for and about Parish Councils.
Parish Charter for Eden
The Parish Charter for Eden District is an agreement between Cumbria County Council, Eden District Council and many of the District's Parish Councils. The Charter was signed on 12 March 2008 and sets out how the three levels of local government will work together in the future. Read the Parish Charter for Eden District (PDF: 568 Kb / 18 pages)
Acceptance of office and register of financial and other interests
The Declaration of Office form (Word Document: 835 Kb / 1 page) must be completed and signed by every Parish Councillor before, or at the next meeting, after his/her election. The form includes an undertaking to observe the Council's Code of Conduct in the performance of their duties. If they fail to do so the office is void and a casual vacancy automatically arises.
All Councillors have to abide by a Code of Conduct which sets out which interests have to be declared. The Code of Conduct is made under S30 of the Localism Act 2011. In order to comply with the Parish Council's Code of Conduct, a Member must register his/her own disclosable pecuniary interests, other interests, and state whether they have sensitive interests, together with those of their spouse or civil partner, or someone with whom they live as if they were their spouse or civil partner, with our Monitoring Officer, within 28 days of his/her election or co-option on the Register of Interests form (PDF: 200 Kb / 6 pages). Members must also declare any offers of gifts and hospitality and declare any changes within 28 days. Read the Register of Financial and Other Interests - A Guide and Checklist for Parish Council Clerks (PDF: 161 Kb / 2 pages).