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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. There are already nearly 300 town or parish councils in Essex.

Parish and town councils have the same powers and duties, but a town council may elect a Town Mayor, rather than a Chairman. Wickford would be a Town Council because that is most fitting to its size. 

Local councils play a vital role in representing the interests of their communities and improving the quality of life and the local environment. They can also influence other decision makers and can deliver services to meet local needs. Their powers and duties range from maintaining allotments and open spaces to crime prevention and providing recreation facilities.

Local councils have the right to become statutory consultees at both borough and county level and, although the decision remains with the planning authorities, local councils can influence the decision-making process by making informed comments and recommendations.

Not sure about the difference between a county council, a borough council and a town council? Read this short guide.