In England, parish councils were formed under the Local Government Act 1894 to take over local oversight of social welfare and civic duties in towns and villages. They are elected bodies, usually on a four year cycle. The number of councillors varies according to the population of the parish.
These civil parishes should not be confused with the ecclesiastical parish, where the Church of England's Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) are concerned with the welfare of a particular religious community. Civil parishes are not linked to the church.
Because of on-going perception that there is a link between parish councils and the church, Walton Parish Council decided in late 2011 to change it's name to Walton Community Council, better representing its modern approach to local government.
A community council can charge a precept to residents to help pay for its operation and local projects. Although there is no limit to the amount that can be raised, the money can only be raised for a limited number of purposes, as defined in the 1894 Act. Most community or parish councils are responsible for the provision of such facilities as village halls, allotments, recreation grounds and children's play areas and have a legal right to be consulted and to comment on all planning applications in their area.
Individuals and organisations within the area will often consult the parish council regarding a special project or new facilities. This can be as big as a new playground or smaller, like a memorial plaque. Community councils work closely with ward councillors, the local authority and in some cases, members of the UK and European parliaments.