Parish and town councils

Find out about parish and town councils, how to contact your parish clerk, the parish charter, and how we can help prepare a parish plan.

Parish or town councils are the most local level of government in England. They are independent of other levels of local government, district and county councils, however they maintain a close working relationship with both. 

There are 731 parishes in North Yorkshire.  Some parish councils in our county are known as town or city councils, but have the same role as a parish council.

Not all parishes have a parish council. Some smaller ones only have parish meetings. Other small parishes may work together with neighbouring parishes to run a grouped, joint or common parish council.

Parish clerk information

Your first point of contact at a parish council should be your parish clerk. You can find contact information for parish clerks via our parish clerk database. Use the button below to access the database:

Parish clerk information

What do parish councils do?

The services provided by parish councils vary depending on how large and how active the councils are. Some do not meet very often, and are not very active. Other larger parish councils carry out many duties such as street lighting, managing cemeteries, allotments, commons, village halls, war memorials and markets.

Councillors are usually elected every four years. They are not paid, although they may claim expenses, and they have to obey a local government code of conduct. Each parish council may have its own code of conduct which you can consult either on the parish council website for your area, or by contacting the parish clerk.

Parish councillors must declare a personal or prejudicial interest if they have an interest in any matter under discussion at a parish council meeting.

Parish charter

The purpose of our  parish charter (pdf / 68 KB) is to set out the working relationship between ourselves and parish/town councils and parish meetings. It includes general information about how we work with parish councils, including partnerships, communications, complaints and support. 

Parish plans

We can offer plenty of support and advice for those preparing a parish plan. We suggest that you submit your parish plan to us as early as possible, as we may be able to provide specialist support from one of our council services. You can download the  parish planning guide (pdf / 395 KB) for full information, which also includes useful contacts and funding advice.

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