Chelmsford City Council

How parish councils work

In Chelmsford, we have three tiers of local government: 

  • Tier 1: parish councils
  • Tier 2: Chelmsford City Council (CCC)
  • Tier 3: Essex County Council (ECC)

You can find out about who represents you or use myhome to find out what parish you are in (if any).

You can also find out how much for parish councils cost.

Tier 1 councils are responsible for helping with local issues within their parish boundaries, such as:

  • some allotments
  • public clocks
  • bus shelters
  • community centres
  • some play areas and play equipment
  • grants to help local organisations
  • consultation on neighbourhood planning

They also have the power to issue fixed penalty fines for things like:

  • litter
  • graffiti
  • fly posting
  • dog offences

Chelmsford has 25 parish councils, one town council (South Woodham Ferrers) and one parish meeting (Mashbury).

We are responsible for services within the boundaries of the whole Chelmsford district (not just the city centre), including:

  • rubbish collection
  • recycling
  • community safety
  • Council Tax collections
  • housing and homelessness advice
  • planning applications
  • local parks and play areas
  • pest control
  • environmental health
  • theatres and museums
  • leisure centres
  • car parks and parking enforcement
  • the cemetery and crematorium
  • support for local businesses

ECC are responsible for services across the whole county (except Southend and Thurrock which are unitary authorities), including:

  • education
  • roads and footpaths
  • transport
  • planning
  • social care
  • libraries
  • waste management
  • trading standards
  • country parks
  • streetlights

There are currently 27 parishes in Chelmsford, varying in size and the area they cover.

Civil parishes are based around local rural and urban communities, such as a village area like Broomfield. However, there are two exceptions to this, including Mashbury, which simply holds an annual meeting. In addition, South Woodham Ferrers has a town council rather than a parish council, although a town and parish councils have the same powers.

For the purposes of this consultation, we have included South Woodham Ferrers Town Council and Mashbury within the definition of parish councils.

You can view a map of the current parished areas.

You can also look up the parish for a property on myhome.

Parish councils

Parish councils are made up of councillors who are elected to serve and represent the residents of that parish only. We allocate their funding, which comes from Council Tax paid by the residents of that parish.

By law, parish councils must have at least five councillors, with most made up of between six and 12 councillors. These councillors are local people interested in representing their parish and are not necessarily tied to a political party.

Parish councillors are chosen by local residents in parish elections and serve for four years terms. If only one candidate stands for a seat, then they are appointed to the seat.

These councillors make decisions collectively and by majority, and are accountable to the local community.

Parish councils and their councillors are entirely separate from Chelmsford City Council.


City council

The city council is made up of 57 elected Councillors, who form the ‘Full Council’. Each of them represents different political parties. In Chelmsford, the Liberal Democrat Party have the majority, followed by Conservative Party and the Chelmsford Independent Group.

However, it is impractical for Full Council to make day-to-day decisions, therefore we use a ‘Leader and Cabinet’ model.

The Cabinet is formed of up to nine other councillors from the majority leading political party. They are responsible for making day-to-day decisions within the budgets and policies that the Full Council has agreed.

In addition to the Cabinet, there are several other committees that take decisions for specific areas of council business. For example, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee makes sure the council is using taxpayers’ money wisely and well. Different councillors sit on each of these committees.

We also employ local government officers to carry out the decisions made by councillors. They ensure that council policies are put in place and council services are being delivered well. Officers are strictly non-political and don’t make any political decisions. This can only be done by elected councillors.

Parish council elections are scheduled to take place every four years in Chelmsford, alongside the election of Councillors to Chelmsford City Council.

You may not have had an election in your area for a while, as they are often uncontested. This means that there are not more candidates that have put themselves forward than there are seats available.

Where an election is uncontested, the parish council co-opts the candidates to become councillors.

The last parish council elections took place in 2019, where only three areas were contested (Rettendon, Good Easter and Galleywood). In 2015 there were four contested elections (Great Waltham, South Woodham Ferrers, Galleywood, Rettendon).

Some of the parish councils in Chelmsford are separated into wards.

Those that do have them usually only have between two and four wards.

This means that councillors are elected to represent a given ward. This is often the case in areas with a high electorate or that cover a large geographical area. It makes sure that each councillor represents a roughly equal number of people.

The parish council areas that are currently divided into wards are:


  • Galleywood East
  • Galleywood West
  • Total electorate 4,338

Great Baddow

  • Baddow Road
  • Rothmans
  • Village
  • Total electorate 11,297

Great Waltham

  • Church End
  • Ford End
  • Total electorate 1,777


  • Runwell East
  • Runwell West
  • Total electorate 3,296

South Hanningfield

  • Downham
  • Ramsden Heath
  • South Hanningfield
  • Total electorate 2,142

South Woodham Ferrers

  • Chetwood
  • Collingwood
  • Elmwood
  • Woodville
  • Total electorate 12,199


  • Chelmer Village & Beaulieu Park
  • North
  • Total electorate 15,462

Woodham Ferrers and Bicknacre

  • Bicknacre
  • Village
  • Total electorate 2,285


  • Writtle North
  • Writtle South
  • Total electorate 4,078

Elected parish councils were first established in the Local Government act in 1894.

These councils were largely based on villages and towns. This is why rural areas of Chelmsford have parish councils, but the city centre does not. This is also why some parish boundaries no longer cover what we now know as a certain area in its entirety, as some houses were built later.

Parish councils operate within the bounds of what the law allows them to do. Each parish council makes their own decisions as to what they do and how active they are.

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Last updated: 19 April 2021

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