Powers and Duties of Local Councils

Local Councils have a wide range of powers and duties. The following table sets out the main ones; it is not a complete list of every single power and duty.




Powers & Duties

Statutory Provisions





Duty to provide allotments. 

Power to improve and adapt land for allotments, and to let grazing rights

Small Holding & Allotments Act 1908, ss. 23, 26, and 42




Baths and washhouses

Power to provide public baths and washhouses

Public Health Act 1936, ss. 221, 222, 223 and 227




Burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria

Power to acquire and maintain

Power to provide

Power to agree to maintain monuments and memorials

Power to contribute towards expenses of cemeteries

Open Spaces Act 1906, Ss 9 and 10; Local Government Act 1972, s. 214; Parish Councils and Burial Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970, s. 1

Local Government Act 1972, s. 214(6)




Bus shelters

Power to provide and maintain shelters

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1953, s. 4


Power to make bye-laws in regard to pleasure grounds 

Cycle parks

Baths and washhouses

Open spaces and burial grounds

Mortuaries and post-mortem rooms

Public Health Act 1875, s. 164

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.57(7)

Public Health Act 1936, s.223

Open Spaces Act 1906, s.15

Public Health Act 1936, s.198





Power to provide public clocks

Parish Councils Act 1957, s.2




Closed churchyards

Powers as to maintenance

Local Government Act 1972, s.215




Common pastures

Powers in relation to providing common pasture

Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908, s.34




Conference facilities

Power to provide and encourage the use of facilities

Local Government Act 1972, s.144




Community centres





Power to provide and equip buildings for use of clubs having athletic, social or recreational objectives


Duty to promote and maintain high standards of conduct

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s.19



Localism Act 2011, s.27





Crime prevention

Powers to install and maintain equipment and establish and maintain a scheme for detection or prevention of crime

Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.31


Power to contribute to police services e.g. PCSOs

Police Act 1996, s.92


Duty on Parish Councils to consider crime reduction in every policy and action

s17 Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (as amended)





Power to deal with ponds and ditches

Public Health Act 1936, s.260





Power to make a Dog Control Order

Power to take enforcement action against those who commit an offence against a Dog Control Order

Cleaner Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005




Entertainment and the arts

Provision of entertainment and support of the arts

Local Government Act 1972, s.145




Flyposting and Graffiti



General Power of Competence

Power to take enforcement action against those that flypost or graffiti


Power to do anything that an individual may do (eligible Councils only)

Cleaner Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005


Localism Act 2011, s.1





Power to accept

Local Government Act 1972, s.139





Power to maintain footpaths and bridle-ways

Power to light roads and public places

Provision of litter bins

Powers to provide parking places for bicycles and motor-cycles, and other vehicles

Power to enter into agreement as to dedication and widening

Power to provide roadside seats and shelters


Consent of parish council required for ending maintenance of highway at public expense, or for stopping up or diversion of highway

Power to complain to highway authority as to unlawful stopping up or obstruction of highway or unlawful encroachment on roadside wastes

Power to provide traffic signs and other objects or devices warning of danger

Power to plant trees and lay out grass verges etc. and to maintain them

Highways Act 1980, ss.43,50

Parish Councils Act 1957, s.3;

Highways Act 1980, s.301


Litter Act 1983, ss.5,6

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, ss.57,63

Highways Act 1980, ss.30,72

Parish Councils Act 1957, s.1

Highways Act 1980, ss.47,116

Highways Act 1980, s.130

Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.72

Highways Act 1980, s.96





Power to participate in schemes of collective investment

Trustee Investments Act 1961, s.11





Power to acquire by agreement, to appropriate, to dispose of

Power to accept gifts of land

Local Government Act 1972, ss.124, 126, 127

Local Government Act 1972, s.139





Provision of receptacles

Power to take enforcement action against those that litter

Litter Act 1983, ss.5,6

Cleaner Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005





Powers to promote

Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976, s.7




Mortuaries and post mortem rooms


Neighbourhood Planning

Powers to provide mortuaries and post mortem rooms


Power to create a Neighbourhood Plan and other development mechanisms

Public Health Act 1936, s.198



Localism Act, s.116




Open spaces

Power to acquire land and maintain

Public Health Act 1875, s.164 Open Spaces Act 1906, ss.9 and 10




Parish documents

Powers to direct as to their custody

Local Government Act 1972, s.226








Public buildings and village hall

Power to provide buildings for public meetings and assemblies

Local Government Act 1972, s.133







Public conveniences

Power to provide

Public Health Act 1936, s.87




Sustainable communities

Able to be represented on a panel of representatives to be consulted on proposals that would contribute to sustainable communities

Sustainable Communities Act 2007




Town and country planning

Right to be notified of planning applications

Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Sched.1, para. 8





Power to encourage visitors and provide conference and other facilities

Local Government Act 1972, s.144




Traffic calming

Powers to contribute financially to traffic calming schemes

Highways Act 1980, s.274A





Powers in relation to car-sharing schemes, taxi fare concessions and information about transport

Powers to make grants for bus services

Local Government and Rating Act 1997, s.26, 28 and 29

Transport Act 1985, s.106A




War memorials

Power to maintain, repair, protect and alter war memorials

War Memorials (Local Authorities' Powers) Act 1923, s.1; as extended by Local Government Act 1948, s.133

Water supply

Power to utilise well, spring or stream and to provide facilities for obtaining water from them

Public Health Act 1936, s.125