What is a Parish Council in England?

In medieval times the ‘Feudal System’ that flourished had more to do with military obligations which existed among the nobility.  It all revolved around three key concepts of ‘ Lords, Vassals and Fiefs’!  William the Conqueror introduced a stricter system which incorporated oaths of loyalty to the Monarch.

Thankfully, these days we have dispensed with the three concepts.

First formed under a Government Act in 1894, a parish council is a civil local authority of local government with variable tax raising powers and are responsible for areas known as civil parishes.  It is the level of government closest to the community with borough and county authority above it in the hierarchy.  The Parish Council is apolitical and councillors do not represent any political parties.

The responsibilities of a parish council are varied but can cover public health, public markets, street lighting, building regulations, footpaths, cemeteries as well as providing a focus for the local community to identify concerns and projects, and endeavour to solve them locally.  On their own, parish councils have limited powers to make some decisions.  However they do have ability to negotiate with and power to influence other organisations and higher councils that do make the final decisions.  In this respect, parish councils are very powerful.

A Parish council is responsible for managing their own budgets and are financed through the precept, which is an amount of money calculated as an estimate for the coming year and collected as part of your council tax.   Parish councils can also apply for other funding such as grants and awards for certain projects.

Councillors are unpaid and elected to serve for four years.  If a (casual) vacancy occurs and a minimum 10 residents on the electoral roll call for an election, this would be held at a cost of circa £2,000 to the Parish.  To be considered for election you need to have occupied land or other premises for the previous 12 months or work in the parish  or live within three miles of the parish boundary. Councillors can be co-opted which requires the candidate to write a brief resume and attend a meeting for an interview.  The councillors will then take a vote and appoint the most suitable candidate.

As well as attending monthly meetings, Upwell parish councillors will be expected to partake in sub committee groups covering local areas such as the cemetery, the war memorial, footpaths, health & safety, highways to name a few and sometimes make site visits if deemed appropriate.

All current councillors contact details are shown on this website as well as in the Community Magazine. 


The Role of a Councillor


They are elected to represent the interest of the local community as a whole and promote a harmonious local environment. The number of elected Councillors depends on the size of the area, in Upwell we are able to have 13 Councillors.


Local Councils are the first tier of governance and are the first point of contact for anyone concerned with a community issue. They are democratically elected local authorities and exist in England, Wales and Scotland. The term 'Local Council' is synonymous with ' Parish Council, 'Town Council' and 'Community Council'.


Local Councils are made up of locally elected Councillors. They are legally obliged to hold at least four meetings a year.  Most meet on a monthly cycle to discuss council business and hear from local residents.  Borough and County Councillors regularly attend parish meetings and report at the Annual Parish meeting. Councillors are expected to attend meetings on a regular basis.​

Councillors must abide by a Code of Conduct, a set of rules on how Councillors are expected to behave. They must also declare their financial interests in the parish, details of which are kept by the Borough Council.

Our Councillors
Dr Paul Williams

Paul Williams Chairman

Contact number 01945 772946

I am originally from the Rhondda Valley in South Wales. On leaving school I trained as a doctor at St.George's Hospital Medical School in London and then worked in London, Southampton, Salisbury and Cardiff prior to taking up the post of GP partner at Upwell Health Centre in 1988. I worked there as a GP and as a GP trainer full time until my retirement in June 2018. As well as being a GP I spent time as a GP endoscopist at North Cambs Hospital in Wisbech and I worked for Fenland and East Cambs PCT and Norfolk PCT as a Prescribing Lead. When PCTs were wound up and replaced with CCGs I carried on working for the West Norfolk CCG as prescribing lead before becoming chair of the CCG in 2016. I finally retired from all CCG work in March 2021.


I am in my second spell as a parish councillor having served for three terms in the 1990s and 2000s including one period as chairman. I rejoined the parish council in May 2019 and was again elected chairman. I am also chair of the Blunt Family Trust and The Hunter Rowe Trust and I have been heavily involved in the running of Upwell Hall since the council bought the hall in the mid 90s. I am married with three children, the youngest is currently in sixth form at Wisbech Grammar School. I can be seen daily walking around the village with my golden retriever, Maple.

Christine Aston

Christine Aston Vice Chair

Contact Number 07947 422677

I moved to Upwell in August 2002 .  Brought up in Cornwall and Essex and spent a while living in Spain. 

I am employed by an IFA in Cambridge as an Employee Benefits Group Risk Specialist (bit of a mouthful). I am a freelance writer and published author. I have assumed responsibility for the advertising element of the Parish Magazine and write articles on various subjects.

As well as serving as a Parish Councillor, I am a member of the Upwell Village Hall Committee.  

I am married with 3 grown up children, 2 sons and a daughter plus lots of Grandsons!   

I hope to be a voice of reason and listen to parishioners.  It is important that the future of our community is guided in the right directions whilst walking the fine line of providing affordable services within financial boundaries.  

I love travel and do so whenever I can.  I like pottering in the garden, a nice G&T, anything to do with Egyptology  and always enjoy watching the sea off the coast of Cornwall.

Susan Lowe

Susan Lowe

Contact number 01945 772824

Born in the parish of Upwell, I have lived here most of my life apart from around twenty  years living and working in London and the South.  

I work full time . In my spare time I volunteer for various community activities.  I am chairman of the trustee committee of the Three Holes Village Hall & Playing Field, a trustee of the Upwell (Norfolk) Relief in Need charity, I help to run Welle Cinema and Welle Film Productions and I am also a member of the Upwell Parish Neighbourhood Plan committee – something I think can be of key importance to the future viability of our community. I also have a background in grant fundraising, marketing and event management in both my career and voluntary roles.

Prue Lester

Contact number 01945 772234

Keith Harrison

Contact Number 01945 722661

Chris Robinson

Contact number 07836 606093

Colin Rose

07885 258434 

Parish and Borough Councillor

Age 73, Upwell home since 1984. As an orphan won a scholarship to boarding school then major tech award for College. Graduated 1970 with first class hons. as a Scientific/Technical illustrator/designer. Married to Ira Rose, my son Andrew lives in Upwell. Retrained due to IT wiping out all the highly skilled, well paid, freelance work. Farmland now let I design/build houses and machines, etc. Independent Borough Cllr. for Upwell and Delph. Sit on Planning and Corporate performance panels, Custom and Self build task group, Acting Chair of Downham Police Area SNAP (Special Constabulary 1975-80). Member of 4 local IDBs. DOT/RYA Skipper. Have lectured and taught up to MA and Cadets. Volunteer member of Welney RUG.

Andrew Harrison

Contact number 01945 773735

Richard Melton

Contact number 01945 771974

Ros Shorting

Contact number 01945 773604.

Brian Carr

Jill Gooch

Contact number 01945 773301

Brian Carr

Contact number 01945 774145

Born in Finsbury, London, EC1 on the 30th August 1948

I left school at the age of 16, and began in commercial vehicle body building, then realized it was not for me.

I met my wife Linda in August 1967 and we were married in December 1969 and during the next five years our two sons James and Stephen were born. During this time I began working in the building trade, beginning with Block 1 at the Barbican.

In 1973 I decided to work for myself as a carpenter and general builder, building up over the years, a thriving business. I finally retired 2019 and handed the business over to my son, Stephen.

During my career I have been employed by a large cross section of the public: clients such as Michael Brooke QC, with whom I worked for over 40 years in England and France, who never asked for an estimate, only the invoice, because “I was the one person he could trust”, Jane Bloom-Copper (ex: governor of Holloway Women’s Prison), Margaret Van-Hatten (Reporter for the Financial Times), the ex- Prime Minister of Pakistan, Bob Geldof and Lulu.  I also worked with English Heritage.

My biggest job during this time was for a London Developer on the south side of Trafalgar Square however, I have always found time to help those less fortunate people in my community.

When we arrived in Upwell in March 2009, a vacancy in Upwell Parish Council came up and I decided to apply, and was lucky enough to be accepted as a Councillor. I feel it is important to add something to the community we all live in and this seemed an opportunity to do just that.

I am now the Chair of the Upwell Cemetery Group, trying to bring the cemetery up to the appropriate standard with the help of the Kelvin Judd the gardener, volunteers and other Councillors.

I am a member of the Upwell Village Hall Committee and I am the Parish Council representative on Three Holes Village Hall and Lakes End Village Hall Committees.

Vivienne Spikings

Borough Councillor

Contact number 01945 772248


Chris Dawson

County Councillor

Contact number 01603 774775