What we do

Frequently Asked Questions About Town and Parish Councils

What is a Town or Parish Council?

It is a statutory local authority set up under the Local Government Act 1972. It operates in the area of a defined civil parish or group of parishes. In Cumbria there are three types of local authority – the County Council, the District or Borough Councils and the Town or Parish Councils. A Town Council has exactly the same powers as Parish Council.

Cleator Moor is a Town Council. (In the following paragraphs references to a parish council apply to a town council as well).

Who is on the council?

The council is made up of Councillors elected by the electors of the parish. Every year the council elects one of them to be the Chairman of the council. The council has a paid officer who organises meetings and helps to carry out the council’s decisions –this officer is usually called the Clerk. The Clerk does not vote or make decisions; that is the role of the Councillors.

What powers do Parish Councils have?

They have a wide range of powers (Powers and Duties) which essentially relate to local matters, such as producing a Parish/Town plan, looking after community buildings, open space, allotments, play areas, street lighting, bus shelters, car parks and much more. They also have the power to raise money through the council tax. (see table below for more detail on Powers)

To whom are they accountable?

The electors of the parish. Elections to parish councils are held every four years. The council’s accounts are subject to scrutiny by the District Auditor and the Standards Board for England can investigate alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct by individual Councillors.

Can I attend meetings of the council?

Yes, all meetings of the council and its committees must be open to the general public and the press, except in very exceptional circumstances. The time and place of meetings must be advertised beforehand – usually on this website and the parish noticeboard. this website and the Clerk will be able to give you details of forthcoming meetings.

Can I speak at the meeting?

You cannot speak while the normal business of the meeting is being conducted. However, it is good practice (which nearly all councils follow) to allow some time at the meeting when members of the public may address the council on an issue that concerns them. The Clerk will provide you with details about how this works in your council.

Can I see the minutes of council meetings and other papers?

Under the Freedom of Information Act 200 you may see and have a copy of the ‘recorded’ information held by the council (unless it is classed as exempt information in the Act). This includes reports, minutes, correspondence and emails. The information has to be provided within 20 working days. There may be a photocopying charge. This website also gives access to such documents which can be downloaded free of charge.

How do I find out who the Councillors are?

Our website link “Who We Are” and from the Clerk.

Further information

If you have other questions or require further information, please contact us.

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