Take part

Set up a town or parish council

Local councils provide services to meet local needs and improve community wellbeing.

Aerial view of houses

What is it?

Town and parish councils are the first level of local government. They provide communities with a democratic voice and a structure for taking community action.

More than a third of people in England currently have a town or parish council, and the government is making it easier to set one up.

How can I take part?

To set up your own town or parish council, you’ll need to first give your local authority a petition containing the signatures of at least 7.5% of the local population.

The petition must:

  • state exactly what it proposes: creating a parish or town council for a defined area
  • contain the signatures of at least 7.5% of local electors, based on the most recent electoral register - you’ll need more signatures for areas with fewer than 2,500 electors

If the petition is valid, your local authority will carry out a ‘community governance review’ to see if a local council should be created.

A neighbourhood forum that’s had a neighbourhood development plan passed at referendum can trigger a community governance review without needing a petition.

You can get more information and advice about what you need to do from the National Association of Local Councils’ (NALC) Create a Council site or you can contact your County Association of Local Councils. Each county has its own association. You can find contact details on the NALC website. For London, contact NALC direct. You may be able to get funding from them to help with this.

You can also read about what happens after a petition is submitted in ‘Guidance on Community Governance Reviews’ which explains how local authorities should review the petitions.