New Year Message from Marianne Overton MBE - 4 January 2019

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Local Government Independant Group


4 January 2018

New Year Message from Marianne Overton MBE

Dear friends and colleagues,

The LGA Independent Group shines amidst party political storms, in a tumultuous year. Whilst the Conservative and Labour Party politicians raged, our members have been working cross-party to get the best for our residents, joined by our partner local government organisations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; relevant Ministers and supported by our Parliamentarians in both the Houses of Commons and Lords.


Since the Conservative Party with the DUP had a political mandate for only one thing, we at the LGA took charge of the adult social care green paper and in getting our councils Brexit-ready. I am disappointed in the use of Brexit as a party-political tool, instead of getting round the table cross party and working for the good of our communities, as we have done.

In the Independent Group, we started the year planning to improve engagement with our members across all nine regions, listening to help shape LGA policy and providing support. We also set about raising the profile and impact of our members nationally and locally. This we have done, thanks to you, to our Group Executive and staff in the Independent Group Office, with support gained from the whole of the LGA. Thank you.

Working locally, we can see the needs of our communities first hand. Working nationally, we called for more funding for roads, adult social care, children’s mental health and for the cap to be lifted that prevents councils borrowing more to build housing. In these we were successful. We are still calling for the right to buy to become a local decision, and all of the money to be retained locally and not sent to the central government coffers as we do now.

We also supported calls for more funding for our local health services, including children’s mental health. Hence, we get a share of the £20.5 billion NHS 70th birthday present.

Your LGA Lead Members and I took your local needs directly to the ministers. In this already tempestuous year, they have responded positively. However, none of this is as much as they have taken away from us previously. None of this is for more than one year, leaving a big hole in the budget next year.

The lowlight of the year was the national election crashing through our local elections in May, combined with boundary changes in some areas and pushing some excellent members out in the confusion.

Apart from a Royal Wedding and a World Cup, I have two highlights, both in representing you this year.

Speaking in the Speaker’s House at the Houses of Parliament in recognition of 100 years since the first women got to vote. This was part of a series of events this year, designed to use the historical struggle as a springboard to inspire more people to come forward as candidates. Thanks to members in partner organisations, the Women’s Local Government Society (founded in 1907) and the Fawcett Society.

The other highlight was representing England in the UK delegation of the Council for European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), which seeks to represent all 130,000 councils across Europe, not the EU. As an elected spokesperson for CEMR, I had the task of moderating at our conference in Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart, bringing all sides together to agree directions and targets for a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050, updating the Paris Agreements, five years on. I was able to draw on our group’s discussions at conferences and our Independent online task group discussion responding to the formal consultation to the waste strategy. This put your voices at the heart of the decision-making process nationally and internationally.

Challenges next year will be the continued use of Brexit as a scapegoat when it is this Government’s party who introduced austerity, called the referendum, called the unscheduled election and produced Barnier’s divorce settlement, one that is very likely to result in no deal at all. This is the same party that will be putting up “their” councillors for election. Our big challenge for the spring is finding and encouraging enough good people to use their skills and talents to stand for election with us. We are looking for people who are prepared to think, speak and vote with integrity, and work together for a better future.

We hear a lot about what the high-profile politicians are doing, but what really makes a difference is what we do locally. Taking care and interest in our fellow residents, listening and doing our best to create healthy, happy and successful communities. That, with a good campaign, is what gets us elected. Our success in recent by-elections demonstrate a thirst for sound local representation, which bodes well for the future. The LGA Independent Group Leadership, Executive and Office are here to help, so please feel free to contact us.

Marianne Overton

Thank you for all you do and for your support.

Wishing you all a very healthy, happy and successful 2019.

Kind regards,

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE
Leader of the Independent Group
Vice Chair of the Local Government Association

For your 2019 diary

Independent Group events

18 January 2019: Information and Development Seminar on Scrutiny

12 February 2019: West Midlands Regional Meeting

15 February 2019: Information and Development Seminar – hold the date, topic TBC

1 March 2019: East Midlands Regional Meeting

8 March 2019: South West Regional Meeting

15 March 2019: Information and Development Seminar – Hold the date, topic TBC

21 March 2019: Wales Regional Meeting


Other conferences of interest

9 January, 18 January, 31 January: Diversity and Inclusion in the Fire and Rescue Service - Masterclass

16 January, 18 January, 21 January, 8 February, 11 February: Business Rates Retention and Fair Funding Review consultation

5 February: LGA Annual Licensing Conference 2019

5-6 March: LGA Annual Culture and Tourism Conference 2019

12-13 March: LGA Annual Fire conference and exhibition