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General information on Parish and Town Councils

Cornwall has 213 parish and town councils, 28 of which are town councils and 1 city council.  

What is a town/parish council?


A parish or town council is an elected local authority.  They are the first tier of local government and play a vital role in engaging with local people and helping to shape their communities.

Local councils have a variety of powers and duties vested in them through Acts of Parliament. However not all parish and town councils decide to exercise all these powers. 

Some focus on their representative role, campaigning on local issues and lobbying other agencies to take action.  Others carry out an enabling role, funding local projects and organisations, whilst some provide services and amenities from allotments to bus shelters, recreational areas and play areas.  Parish and town councils in Cornwall differ in size and capacity and this has been acknowledged in the Active Partnering framework.

This guide identifies how the Council is establishing a delivery method for Cornwall in response to Matthew Taylor’s Review - Living Working Countryside.

Following the formation of Cornwall Council as a unitary authority last year we are now developing the best of the six former district and borough councils rural enabling methodologies. Around Cornwall more than a dozen parishes have completed innovative projects to deliver affordable housing based on parish plans and several more are currently underway. We intend to make a step change in this engagement and would welcome more parish and town councils to take part. By refining current methods we are creating a countywide approach and using new opportunities for innovative working partnerships which combine landowners, developers, housing associations and town and parish councils.

Cornwall Council is drafting a Local Delivery Framework and rural housing will be a key element. A Core Strategy is programmed for adoption by 2012 and preferred options for an affordable housing Development Plan Document (DPD) is due to be published in the Spring 2010. This will set out for the first time policy for a countywide approach to rural affordable housing delivery. Rather than wait until it is adopted, we will promote delivery of affordable housing through increasing proactive engagement based on local need and localism.

This guide identifies the opportunities for town and parish councils to be supported so they can engage and lead in the process.

Delivering sites for Affordable Housing in partnership with Town and Parish Councils (pdf document)

Localism is about bringing Cornwall Council and its partners closer to communities.  It’s a vehicle which provides the different communities of Cornwall with the opportunity to influence decision making, ensuring public services reflect local circumstances.  Parish and town councils are key players in being able to deliver this localism agenda.

Parish and town councillors are elected by local residents, with elections taking place every four years. The last election took place in May 2013.

Provide an opportunity for local communities to identify issues of importance in their area, to develop solutions to address these needs. 

A parish plan is a statement of how the local community sees itself developing over the next few years. They should reflect the views of all sections of the community, identify character and features which local people feel are important, identify local problems and opportunities and say how the residents want the community to develop.

Parish plans will feed into Community Network Plans.  Not only will this ensure that your community network is taking account of local issues highlighted in these plans but it will also assist the community network Panels in being able to identify common themes in order to set realistic aims and priorities. 

A number of parish and town councils in Cornwall have produced their own parish plans.  These are displayed under the town or parish councils individual page. If your local council has produced a parish plan and is omitted from this list please contact your community network manager

Community and living

0300 1234 232