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
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.

Bill Pugh

07377 367868

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.

Prue Lester

Contact number 01945 772234

Keith Harrison

Contact Number 01945 722661

Andrew Harrison

Contact number 01945 773735

Richard Melton

Contact number 0780 121 7406

Whilst I’ve always lived locally I moved to Upwell in 2003 having met my wife Kim who is a born and bred Upwellian, we have three children all of whom have attended school at Outwell. In the past 18 years I have always done my best to play an active role in the community having served as chairman of Outwell Swifts Youth Football Club, a short spell as a School Governor at Beaupre Primary School and been vice chairman of both Upwell Playing Field Committee and Upwell Village Hall Committee and a member of the Three Holes Village Hall Committee. This is my second term as a Parish Councillor where I have previously held the position of Vice Chairman and I’m currently a member of the Churchfield and Plawfield IDB. I am managing Director of SDM Fabrication Limited based in March providing employment for approximately 132 people in the local area.


Whilst I continue to want to play a role in the community work commitments have in recent years meant that I have had to reduce the number of roles and have prioritised my focus on my commitments as a Parish Councillor. I am passionate about the village and especially my membership of working parties who successfully developed the Neighbourhood Plan, the refurbishment of the War Memorial and bringing responsibility for the upkeep of the Cemetery to the Parish Council. Leisure time is spent with my family    

Chris Robinson

Contact number 07836 606093

Ros Shorting

Contact number 01945 773604.

Jill Gooch

Contact number 01945 773301

Rob Shaw

Contact number 07535 508790

I moved to Upwell in August 2020. I have been married for nearly 28 years and have three grown up sons, who all currently live in Essex. I have one grandchild and another on the way, which makes my family complete for the time being.

I was born in Burnley, Lancashire but I grew up in Essex where I have spent most of my life.

I started out in warehousing many years ago and have had several jobs since, including lorry building, mechanical maintenance engineer, I also had a property maintenance company for a few years. After a while I went into the building merchants trade and became management for a large builders merchant for many years, and now I work as a freelance Office Manager, working for three companies based in Essex. I also owned my own hardware shop for a while.

Hobbies include Gardening, Fishing, Shooting and Spending time with the family.

Vivienne Spikings

Borough Councillor

Contact number 01945 772248


Chris Dawson

County Councillor

Contact number 01603 774775