Alton Town Council was created on 1 April 1974 as a result of the Local Government Act 1972 which reorganised council structures and boundaries nationwide.
The major functions of the former Alton Urban District Council were transferred to Hampshire County Council and the newly formed East Hampshire District Council, leaving some minor responsibilities to the new Town Council which has the status and powers of a parish council.
The Town Council's only statutory function is the provision of allotments; however, its vast array of other activities can be broadly split into two types:
- The provision of so-called discretionary services for the benefit of the locality that are not provided by the principal councils, such as open spaces, sports pitches, Christmas lights, floral displays, events, some street furniture and the Assembly Rooms.
- Championing Alton’s cause with other statutory organisations, such as principal councils and government agencies. Included in this is the scrutinising of all planning applications affecting the town and making recommendations to the appropriate planning authority.
Alton, deriving from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning farmstead at the source of the river, is a historic market town situated at the head of the Northern River Wey valley surrounded by beautiful Hampshire countryside, and has a population of 17,000. Alton is twinned with Montecchio Maggiore, Italy, and Pertuis, France.
Although parish and town councils are permitted in law to pay an allowance, Alton Town Council has resolved not to pay such allowances. The Town Mayor, however, is entitled to claim an allowance (currently £4,000 per annum) from which to meet the cost of such events as the Civic Reception and also to assist the cost of travelling to and from events, and other incidentals, whilst they are undertaking their extensive duties on behalf of the Council and Town.