Local government structure varies from county to county. In most of Devon there are three tiers of local government.

This includes the county council and district councils (also known as principal authorities) and local councils (also known as parish and town councils)

Contrary to public opinion, these are all separate entities; parish and town councils are not under the authority of the principal authorities, and the district councils are not overseen by Devon County Council.

Although all the councils may work together when needed. Some parts of the country have unitary authorities which provide all local government services, these can be city areas (such as Plymouth) or counties.

Powers and Duties

Local authorities have some duties (things they must do) and powers (things they can do).

There are some things that parish, town, district and county councils can all do such as providing street lights, car parks and financial support for a range of organisations. Just because all councils can do these things, it does not mean that the council has to do it.

Parish councils have a wide range of powers* that can help them work in their communities.Many of these powers can benefit from partnership working with another organisation. For example, a parish council might work with Devon County Council through their Road Warden Scheme or Snow Warden Scheme to help repair potholes or clear snow in an emergency.

Parish CouncilDistrict CouncilCounty Council
Grant giving to a range of organisations including
youth clubs, village halls and voluntary organisations
Street cleaning and litterEducation (early years, schools, families and young people
Consultee on planning applicationsRecyclingPublic Rights of Way (maintenance)
Can provide public conveniences, car parks, lifesaving devices, allotments, burial grounds, bus shelters, war memorials, clocks

Elections (electoral registration)Land Charges Unit (common land)
Can provide recreational and educational facilities Standards (Monitoring Officer can investigate Code of Conduct complaints against parish and town councillors)Traffic calming and management