publication of the 2023 edition of the Practitioners’ Guide, the SALC office has received enquires asking whether
it’s now mandatory for councils to have their own websites and to set up
linked councillor email addresses (ref: Practitioners Guide paras
1.26 & 5.205).
Q – Can a parish
council still be hosted on the village website managed by a
A parish council can comply with the law and have a dedicated
section on a website set up by a third party. However, in such cases
the council should have some process for swiftly moving its section to
another website should the third party website be withdrawn or be taken
If a council has an official section on the village
website, that website must meet the
accessibility compliance regulations. Since September 2020, all
public bodies are required to ensure that their websites comply with the
WCAG (Website Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.1AA standard so that
users with disabilities aren’t disadvantaged when trying to access the content.
The village website is not bound by the legal requirements, so the
village does not need to meet WCAG 2.1AA standards. However, if your
council uses the village site, the whole of that site must meet the WCAG
standards (link to NALC
NALC’s advice is that it is best practice is for a
parish council to have a website entirely under its control.
Q – Must the clerk and all
councillors have an email address set up and controlled by the
The council’s main email address will usually be the
clerk’s email, which should belong to the council and should
not be a personal account of the clerk. A council owned email account can
be passed on when the clerk leaves a council, reducing the
risk of data loss and giving the council continuity.
It is not legally required that all councillors should
have an email address set up by the parish council or linked to an
official council website, but this is highly recommended.
Email addresses set up and managed by the council for all
councillors means the council has control and appropriate security
over that account, enabling it to remove access to
information when a councillor ceases to
serve. This ensures that emails sent from former councillors
cannot be taken as being from the council.
In NALC’s experience, where a parish council leaves individuals to
set up or use their own email account, there can be enormous difficulty
in meeting FOI or SAR deadlines, or providing the requested
information at all.