After nearly half a century without a town council, Grantham is set to revive this quintessential local government body. With its reinstatement, the residents of Grantham are poised to enjoy a renewed sense of community involvement and local governance. Understanding the powers and duties of a town council can help the community harness this change effectively. Here’s a dive into what Town Councils in England can do and what this means for Grantham.

The process that has brought us here has been controversial and the cause of some significant arguments at SKDC. It is clear that now that the decision is made and elections are underway, we all need to understand the facts around what the new Grantham Town Council can, and perhaps more significantly can’t, do.

What is a Town Council?

In England, town councils represent the most local tier of government. Depending on their locality, they operate under various titles, including town, parish, neighbourhood, and community councils. These councils are elected bodies granted statutory powers and duties by the government to administer local areas.

Powers and Responsibilities

Town councils have a broad remit to improve their community across various activities. Their powers and duties cover three main areas:

  1. General Power of Competence (GPC): This is a significant power granted to eligible councils, which allows them to do anything that individuals generally may do, as long as other laws do not prohibit it. This power was introduced to allow councils to act in their community’s interest without needing specific authorization for every action.
  2. Provision of Services: Town councils can provide and maintain various public facilities. This includes community centres, public toilets, sports fields, playgrounds, parks, and allotments. They also have the power to contribute financially to traffic calming measures, crime prevention schemes, and even festivals and community events.
  3. Planning: While they don’t have the final decision on local planning applications, town councils are statutory consultees. This means they have the right to be consulted on planning applications affecting their areas, giving them a voice in development decisions.

Financial Aspects

Town councils have the authority to raise money through local taxes, known as a ‘precept’. This precept is added to the local council tax and is used to fund the town council’s activities. Town councils can also apply for grants and loans and receive funding for specific projects from other governmental layers.

Impact on Grantham

For Grantham, the return of the town council marks a pivotal shift towards greater local autonomy and engagement in civic affairs. Residents can expect a more localized approach to problem-solving in areas such as community safety, recreational facilities, and town beautification projects. Additionally, with the power to influence planning applications, the town council can play a critical role in shaping the future development of Grantham to reflect the community’s needs and aspirations better.

Engaging with Your Town Council

Engagement with the town council can take many forms, from attending council meetings to standing for election. Residents of Grantham have a unique opportunity to contribute directly to their community’s future. Participation can lead to more tailored and effective governance, ultimately making Grantham a better place to live.


The re-establishment of the Grantham Town Council is more than a symbolic nod to local governance; it is a functional body empowered to contribute to the community’s quality of life significantly. As Grantham steps into this new era of local governance, its residents’ active participation and enthusiasm will be crucial to its success. Embracing this change can bring about a vibrant, engaged, and community-focused town.

Stay informed, get involved, and let’s make the most of our local governance!

You can find a full list of candidates here

The following table describes the powers and duties held by local councils for a number of functions. It also provides details of the regulations under which statutory provisions are made. Information on all these details should be in the hands of the parish council Clerks. Where a function is marked with an asterisk (*) a council also has the power to give financial assistance to another person or body performing the same function.

Function Powers and DutiesStatutory Provision
AccountsDuty to appoint a Responsible Financial Officer to manage the council’s accountsLocal Government Act (LGA) 1972, section 151
Acceptance of officeDuty to sign declaration of acceptance of office
(councillors and chairman)
LGA 1972, section 83
Agency arrangementsPower to arrange for the discharge of functions by another local authorityLGA 1972, section 101
AllotmentsPower to provide allotments duty to provide allotment gardens if demand existSmallholdings and Allotments Act 1908, subsections 23, 26 and 42
Baths and washhousesPower to provide public baths and washhousesPublic Health Act 1936, subsections 221-223, 227
BorrowingPower to borrow money for statutory functionsLGA 1972, Sch 13
Burial grounds, cemeteries and crematoria*Power to acquire and maintainOpen Spaces Act 1906, subsections 9 and 10
Power to provideLGA 1972, section 214
Power to agree to maintain memorials and monumentsParish Councils and Burial Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970, s 1
Power to contribute to expenses of maintaining cemeteriesLGA1972, section 214(6)
Bus shelters*Power to provide and maintain bus sheltersLocal Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953, section 4
Byelaws Power to make byelaws for public walks and pleasure groundsPublic Health Act 1875, section 164
Cycle parksRoad Traffic Regulation Act 1984, section 57(7)
Baths and WashhousesPublic Health Act, 1936, section 233
Open spaces and burial groundsOpen Spaces Act, 1906, section 15
CharitiesPower to appoint trustees of parochial charitiesCharities Act 1993, section 79
Christmas lightsPower to provide to attract visitorsLGA 1972, section 144
Citizens Advice BureauPower to supportLGA 1972, section 142
Clocks*Power to provide public clocksParish Councils Act 1957, section 2
Closed churchyardsPower (and sometimes duty) to maintainLGA 1972, section 215
Commons and common pasturesPowers in relation to enclosure, regulation and management, and providing common pastureInclosure Act 1845; Local Government Act 1894, section 8(4); Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908, section 34
Community centresPower to provide and equip community buildingsLGA 1972, section 133
Power to provide buildings for use of clubs having athletic, social or educational objectivesLocal Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, section 19
Conference Facilities*Power to provide and encourage the use conference facilitiesLGA 1997, section 144
ConsultationRight to be consulted by principal councils if directed by Secretary of State (England) or by Welsh Assembly (Wales)Local Government and Rating Act 1997, section 21; LGA 1972, section 33A
Crime prevention*Power to spend money on various crime prevention measuresLocal Government and Rating Act 1997, section 31
DrainagePower to deal with ditches and pondsPublic Health Act 1936, section 260
Entertainment and the Arts*Provision of entertainment and support for the arts including festivals and celebrationsLGA 1972, section 145
FlagpolesPower to erect flagpoles in the highwaysHighways Act 1980, section 144
Free ResourcePower to incur expenditure not otherwise authorised on anything which in the council’s opinion is in the interests of the area or part of it or all or some of the inhabitantsLGA 1972, section 137
GiftsPower to accept giftsLGA 1972, section 139
HighwaysPower to maintain footpaths and bridlewaysHighways Act 1980, subsections 43 and 50
Power to light roads and public placesParish Councils Act 1957, section 3
Power to provide parking places for vehicles, bicycles and motor-cyclesRoad Traffic Regulation Act 1984, section 57
Power to make a dedication agreement for a new highway or widening of an existing highwayHighways Act 1980, subsections 30 and 72
Right to veto application to magistrates court to stop up, divert or cease to maintain a public highwayHighways Act 1980, subsections 47 and 116
Power to complain to a local highway authority that a highway is unlawfully stopped up or obstructedHighways Act 1908, section 130
Power to plant trees etc. and maintain roadside vergesHighways Act 1980, section 96
Power to prosecute for unlawful ploughing of a footpath or bridlewayHighways Act 1980, section 134
Power to provide traffic signs and other noticesRoad Traffic Regulation Act, 1984, section 72
InterestsDuty to declare an interestLGA 1972, section 94
InvestmentsPower to participate in schemes of collective investmentTrustee Act 1961, section 11
Land Power to acquire land by agreement, to appropriate land and to dispose of landLGA 1972, subsections 124, 126 and 127
Power to acquire land by compulsory purchaseLGA 1972, section 125
Power to accept gifts of landLGA 1972, section 139
Power to obtain particulars of persons interested in landLocal Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, section 16
LightingPower to light roads and public placesParish Councils Act 1957, section .3 and Highways Act 1980, section 301
Litter*Power to provide litter bins in streets and public placesLitter Act 1983, subsections 5 and 6
LotteriesPower to promote lotteriesLotteries and Amusements Act 1976, section 7
MeetingsDuty to hold annual parish meetingLGA 1972, Schedule 12 paragraph 23
Duty to hold annual parish council meetingLGA 1972, Schedule 12 paragraph 7
Power to convene a parish meetingLGA 1972, Schedule 12 paragraph 14
Mortuaries and post-mortem roomsPower to provide mortuaries and post-mortem roomsPublic Health Act 1936, section 198
NewslettersPower to provide information relating to matters affecting local governmentLGA 1972, section 142
Nuisances*Power to deal with offensive ponds, ditches and guttersPublic Health Act 1936, section 260
Open SpacesPower to acquire and maintain open spacesPublic Health Act 1875, section 164
Open Spaces Act 1906, subsections 9, 10
Parish documentsPower to give directions as to custody of parish documentsLGA 1972, section 226
Parking facilitiesPower to provide parking places for motor vehicles and bicyclesRoad Traffic Regulation Act 1984, subsections 57 and 63
Parks and pleasure grounds Power to acquire land or to provide recreation grounds, public walks, pleasure grounds and open spaces and to manage and control themPublic Health Act 1875, section 164; LGA 1972 Schedule 14 paragraph 27; Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1890 section 44
Public buildings and village hallsPower to provide buildings for offices and for public meetings and assembliesLGA 1972, section 133
Public conveniencesPower to provide public conveniencesPublic Health Act 1936, section 87
PublicityPower to provide information about matters affecting local governmentLGA 1972, section 142
RecordsPower to collect, exhibit and purchase local recordsLocal Government (Records) Act 1962, subsections 1 and 2
Recreation*Power to provide a wide range of recreational facilitiesOpen Spaces Act 1906, section 9-10, Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, section 19
Provision of boating poolsPublic Health Act 1961, section 54
Seats and shelters*Power to provide roadside seats and sheltersParish Councils Act 1957, section 1
Town and Country planningRight to be notified of planning applicationsTown and Country Planning Act 1990, paragraph 8 of Schedule 1; paragraph 2 of Schedule 1A (Wales)
Town statusPower to adopt town statusLGA 1972, subsections 245 and 245B
Tourism*Power to contribute to encouragement of TourismLGA 1972, section 144
Traffic calmingPower to contribute to the cost of traffic calming measuresHighways Act 1980, section 274A
Transport*Power to (a) establish car-sharing schemes; (b) make grants for bus services; (c) provide taxi-fare concessions; (d) investigate public transport, road use needs; (e) provide information about public transport servicesLocal Government and Rating Act 1997, section 26, Transport Act 1985, section 106A
Village signsPower to use decorative signs to inform visitorsLGA 1972, section 144
Village greens* Power to maintain, to make bylaws for and to prosecute for interference with village greensOpen Spaces Act 1906, section 15; Inclosure Act 1857, section 12; Commons Act 1876, section 29
Village Halls*(see Community centres and Public buildings)
War memorialsPower to maintain, repair and protect war memorialsWar Memorials (Local Authorities Powers) Act 1923, section 1 as extended by LGA 1948, section 133
Water supplyPower to utilise any well, spring or stream to provide facilities for obtaining water from themPublic Health Act 1936, section 125

As always if you have any questions or queries then please let me know and I’ll do my best to answer.