News from the Leader of the LGA Labour Group – 29 August 2018

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29 August 2018

Nick Forbes

News from the Leader of the LGA Labour Group

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Cllr Nick Forbes
Leader of the LGA Labour Group

Labour Party Democracy Review

The interim report and recommendations of the Labour Party Democracy Review were presented to the NEC in July, though they were barely discussed due to the length of time that was devoted to debating whether or not to adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. The section relating to Local Government can be found here, and the entire document is available here.

The LGA Labour Group is hugely disappointed by the initial report of the Labour Party Democracy Review. We had made a serious and detailed submission to the Review, a few parts of which appear to have been accepted, but the general tone of the Review in relation to local government betrays a general lack of understanding of local government, and an astonishing lack of respect towards Labour Party members who serve as councillors. Given that the original remit of the Democracy Review was to ‘develop the accountability of Labour local authority elected members’, there is no recognition within the document of the current legal and financial frameworks that councillors operate within, nor the fact that councillors are the most accountable - both to the party and to their local community – of all elected representatives. Nor is there any acknowledgement of the significant role that Labour councillors have fulfilled in protecting communities from the worst of austerity, and how Labour in local government will be an essential part of delivering the policy programme of an incoming Labour Government.

The biggest concern is that the Review proposes to ban all councillors from serving on Local Government Committees - effectively downgrading councillors to second-class membership, with no say over decisions relating to local government policy development and campaigning, and excluding those party members who have the deepest knowledge, experience, and responsibilities towards local government, not to mention breadth of campaigning expertise and financial commitment.

LGA Labour Group leader and NEC member Cllr Nick Forbes has made a formal response to the Review, outlining his extreme disappointment at what is being proposed. He states: “The Democracy Review should have been a fantastic opportunity to consider how our party’s rules and processes can be improved to assist councillors and Labour Groups to be effective in delivering for their communities, to be as open and accountable as possible, and to ensure that the role and importance of local government is properly understood and recognised in the party. It could have celebrated and recognised the immense contribution made by 6,500 Labour councillors and over 120 Labour-led councils, adopted progressive approaches to help deepen the wider membership’s understanding of local government, and embrace radical ways for a mass membership party to work in partnership with Labour Groups to develop policy. Instead, the Review presents a confusing cocktail of ideas that have not been properly considered and assertions that are not supported by evidence. It fails to seriously examine and evaluate the differing arguments on any important issue relating to local government. The underlying assumption, manifest throughout the Review, that Labour Party members who are councillors are somehow influenced by differing motivations to those of their fellow party members, and are therefore ‘conflicted’ when it comes to local government campaigning and policy development, is deeply insulting and frankly uncomradely.”

News from Local Labour

Plymouth City Council is taking a wide range of measures to tackle the impact of Universal Credit.

Camden Council is asking residents their views on how to tackle the air quality crisis.

A Croydon Council-funded course that helps disabled entrepreneurs launch their own businesses is calling for new recruits.

A new heritage nature trail, complete with handcrafted wooden sculptures and interactive booklet has opened at Gedling Country Park.

Bristol City Council celebrates record generation at its solar farm.

News from the Labour Party

It is a disgrace that the Tories are ploughing on with another round of their dangerous voter ID pilots – Cat Smith MP.

Labour analysis finds “shameful” inequality in England’s education system – Angela Rayner MP.

OECD figures show the disastrous impact of austerity – Peter Dowd MP.

A social care ISA will do nothing to tackle the social care crisis – Barbara Keeley MP.

News from Wales

Swansea Council has launched a bid for £3.6m of Welsh Government funding to expand the city's cycling network.

LGA Social Care Green Paper

Over the summer, the LGA has launched its own social care Green Paper to kick start a national debate on how we provide adult social care. The paper and subsequent consultation, called “The Lives We Want to Lead”, was prompted as the government took the decision to delay the long awaited adult social care green paper to the autumn. Local authorities, Parliamentarians and stakeholders are all encouraged to read the paper and to respond to the consultation, which closes at the end of September. 

Read the paper and respond to the consultation

Labour Party Statutory Youth Service Consultation

The Labour Party has launched its consultation into the provision of a statutory youth service. The consultation looks at how this should be delivered, what it should deliver and how it should be funded. You can read the consultation documents here. Local authorities play a key role in delivering youth services, so it is important that Labour in local government has a strong voice in this consultation. The LGA Labour Group will be making a submission to this consultation, and we would welcome any input from Labour councillors. Please email hannah.lazell@local.gov.uk. If your Labour Group would like to make a submission then we would encourage you to do so.

Armed Forces Champions – message from the office of Nia Griffith MP, Shadow Defence Secretary

The office of Nia Griffith, Shadow Defence Secretary, is looking to get in touch with Labour Councillors who are Armed Forces Champions within their local authorities in order to find good examples of Labour councils leading in this area and identify issues and where central government could provide more support. If you hold this role, and are interested in being part of the discussion, please email Georgie Smith, Political Advisor to Nia Griffith, Georgie.smith@parliament.uk. You can find out more about delivering the Armed Forces Covenant here.

News from the LGA

Response to the announcement of the successful bids for the Trust Relationship Fund

LGA responds to ADASS analysis of social care savings to the NHS

LGA responds to ONS public sector finances report

LGA responds to Which? Report on adult social care

Statement on local government funding figures

Lack of funding holding back sustainable travel

More than 123,000 children have spent their school holidays homeless

More than four fifths of MPs believe adult social care funding needs to be increased

Councils issue warning about sale of illegal toxic cosmetics

Opposition watch

Nigel Farage set to make a return to British politics.

Former Tory (now Independent) Coventry councillor in shock call for Poll Tax comeback. 

A Green councillor has pulled out of the race to become the party’s deputy leader after her father was jailed for child abuse.

LGA Effective Opposition course

This programme, aimed at opposition leaders and deputy leaders, is designed to help participants to get a better understanding of how they can enhance the effectiveness of their role in leading an opposition group on their council. It will focus on a range of relevant topics, skills and techniques, including building good working relationships with key officers, engaging with external stakeholders, working with the local media and getting the most out of social media.

The programme will provide a unique, cross-party opportunity for participants to explore the nature of effective opposition and gain some insight into their personal leadership and influencing styles.

Programme 8: Thursday, 1st November – Friday, 2nd November 2018

Programme 9: Saturday, 19th January – Sunday, 20th January 2019

Fee: The cost for attending this two-day residential event is only £150, which covers the cost of accommodation, meals, tuition and materials

Find out more

The LGA Cyber Security Stocktake has now launched

As part of the National Cyber Security Strategy, the LGA has been granted funding by the Cabinet Office to ensure that councils are as resilient against cyber-attacks as possible.

The first phase of this work has now begun. Working with the not-for-profit research organisation RAND Europe, the LGA has now sent a confidential online questionnaire to all councils in England to complete concerning their cyber security arrangements.

This aims to:

  • capture the current state of play in terms of cyber security across councils
  • identify good practice – and those councils delivering it
  • identify risks – and those councils at risk

Findings from this work will inform where and how the LGA targets support including funding to individual councils. From the Autumn, councils will be able to bid for grant funding to undertake an agreed activity or piece of work which will improve their cyber security, based on the findings from the stocktake. Details on how to bid for this will follow later on this year.

Please make sure your council takes part. If your council nominated a lead contact, the questionnaire will now have been sent to them, if not, it will land in the inbox of the council’s Chief Executive. Councils have until 31st August to complete this.

Find out more about the stocktake here. Or send any questions to: cybersecurity@local.gov.uk

Message from the Alzheimer’s Society

The Alzheimer’s Society will be attending this year’s Labour Party conference in Liverpool, where we will be talking to delegates about the inequity people with dementia face in the context of the current social care system.  

With 40 per cent taken from the budgets of local authorities since 2010, we are calling for national government to play its part in helping people with dementia access good quality health and care support at a fair price. Ahead of the Government’s green paper on social care reform, we are calling for funding to cover the extra care charges for a health condition such as dementia.

We are also calling for all health and social care workers to be given the training and support they need to deliver quality dementia care and for everyone with dementia to have a care navigator to support access to timely, preventative and integrated support.  Our findings and recommendations are detailed in our recently published a report; Dementia – the true cost: fixing the care crisis.

If you would like to meet to discuss how the Alzheimer’s Society can support your council to work towards becoming a Dementia Friendly Local Authority and continue championing the rights of your constituents who are living with dementia, and their carers, please email john.kemp@alzheimers.org.uk or come and say hello to the team at the Labour Party conference and show your support to Fix Dementia Care.   

By elections

By-elections held on 23 August:

Rushcliffe BC, Gotham
Con 355 [40.4%; -12.5%]
Lab 275 [31.3%; +7.4%]
Ind 160 [18.2%: +18.2%]
LD 63 [7.2%; +7.2%]
Grn 25 [2.8%; +2.8%]
UKIP 0 [[0.0% -23.1%]]
Conservative hold

Cornwall UA, Bude
LD 1010 [53.2%; +0.6%]
Ind 475 [25.0%; +25.0%]
Con 264 [13.9%; -24.1%]
Lab 148 [7.8%; -1.6%]
Lib Dem hold

East Hertfordshire DC, Watton-at-Stone
LD 531 [67.0%; +67.0%]
Con 238 [30.1%; -36.4%]
Lab 23 [2.9%; -8.3%]
Grn 0 [0.0%; -7.7%]
UKIP 0 [0.0%; -14.7%]
Lib Dem gain from Conservative

Knowsley MB, Halewood South
Lab 1012 [51.6%; +5.8%]
Ind 778 [39.7%: +39.7%]
LD 118 [6.0%; +6.0%]
Con 54 [2.8%; -4.2%]
Ind 0 [[0.0%; -47.3%]]
Labour hold

Wirral MB, Bromborough
Lab 1253 [47.1%; -14.0%]
Con 749 [28.1%; +6.0%]
LD 454 [17.1%; +5.9%]
Ind 147 [5.5%; +5.5%]
Grn 59 [2.2%; -3.5%]
Labour hold

North Warwickshire BC, Newton Regis & Warton
Con 451 [52.2%; -0.7%]
Lab 413 [47.8%; +21.5%]
UKIP 0 [[0.0%; -20.8%]]
Labour hold

By-elections on 30 August
Sevenoaks DC, Farningham, Horton Kirby & South Darenth