County and county boroughs in Wales (also known as 'principal areas') are divided into community areas for which there may be an elected community council. A community council is a body corporate consisting of the chair and the community councillors. Community councillors are elected by the local government electors for the community and hold office for a term of 4 years. The chair is elected annually by the council from among the councillors.
Community councils were established under the Local Government Act 1972 (LGA 1972) and replaced the previous system of parish councils. The vast majority of the functions conferred on the Secretary of State under LGA 1972 are now, so far as exercisable in relation to Wales, conferred upon the Welsh Ministers. The provision in LGA 1972 relating to communities was amended significantly in relation to Wales by the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 and the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011.
Each community council takes the name of the community followed by the words 'Community Council' or, in Welsh, 'Cyngor Cymuned'. A community that is not grouped with another community may resolve to have the status of a town and may be known as a 'Town Council' or 'Cyngor Tref'.
The functions of a community council are set out in LGA 1972 and in other legislation. Among the services and amenities they most commonly provide are village halls, playing fields and open spaces, seats, shelters, street lighting and footpaths. Under the Local Government Act 2000 (as amended by the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011), community councils have power to do anything they consider is likely to achieve the promotion or improvement of the economic well-being, social well-being or environmental well-being of their area.
The main source of funding for community councils is the funds raised through what is referred to as a precept (a charge) to council tax under section 41 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. A community council must calculate its budget requirement for a financial year in accordance with section 50 of that Act and issue a precept to the billing authority. A community council’s expenses are paid out of the funds received by the precept. In addition the Welsh Ministers may, under section 129 of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011, pay a grant to community councils towards expenditure incurred or to be incurred by it.
The Local Government Act 2000 introduced a new standards regime for community councils. Under the LGA 2000, the Welsh Ministers may by order specify the principles that are to govern the conduct of members of community councils and may issue a model code of conduct that members must observe.
Accordingly, the Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (Wales) Order 2008 provides a model code as regards the conduct which is expected of members of community councils. Where a community does not have a council of its own, the local electors may hold a community meeting and, subject to certain statutory conditions, apply for an order establishing a separate council for the community. The application is made to the principal council for the area which must be satisfied that the relevant conditions have been met.