Local Councils in England were given a General Power of Competence (GPC) in the Localism Act 2011, Sections 1-8. This means that Councils, once adopting the power, no longer need to ask whether they have a specific power to act. The General Power of Competence Localism Act 2011 S1 (1) gives Local Authorities including Parish Councils “the power to do anything that individuals generally may do as long as they do not break any other laws”. It is a power of first resort. This means that when searching for a power to act, the first question to ask is whether you can use the General Power of Competence. To find the answer, you ask whether an individual is normally permitted to act in the same way.
Sometimes a Council can do things that an individual can’t do such as creating bylaws, raising a precept or issuing fixed penalty notices but it must do so using the specific original legislation. The General Power of Competence does not mean the Council can delegate decisions to individual Councillors. This is a procedural matter that remains enshrined in law.
Drayton Parslow Parish Council adopted the General Power of Competence at its meeting on 19 September 2016. Drayton Parslow Parish Council meets the criteria for eligibility as follows:
- the number of Councillors elected at the last ordinary election, or at a subsequent by-election, equals or exceeds two thirds of its total number of Councillors (six out of seven)
- The Parish Clerk has completed CiLCA PG2013 (a sector specific qualification) and her submitted portfolio has passed examination.