Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 27 September 2019

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

27 September 2019


Dear friends and colleagues,

Statesmanship needed

The unprecedented chaos in government continues as the Prime Minister is found to have acted unlawfullly by the highest court in the land in proroguing parliament. No apology, it seems, to Her Majesty, the Parliament or the people. Concern about increasing threats to MPs, he dismissed as "humbug". We need a strategic statesmanlike approach to earn respect from those with whom we need to negotiate and to help unity. I heard again from our members how embarrassing they find the lack of civility shown by our MPs. Our councillors can and do, do better.

The Labour Party Conference this week seemed to lurch further left with a bizarre promise of a four-day week for the same money, making competition extremely difficult in an already unsettled economy. Taking over private property such as schools and landlords’ homes echoes a third world state. Our councillors can do better.

If an election is imminent, I hope many of our councillors will stand or support strong local voices being heard at all levels of Government. If it is your intention to stand do let the office know.

Climate Action Summit

This week world leaders and activists descended on New York for the UN Climate Action Summit. President Trump was in the room supporting clean air and water, and China has signed a commitment. New research indicates very rapid melting, sea level rise and extreme storms as the natural processes that hold the balance appear to have broken down.

The youth also met at the Summit and on the streets as part of two Climate Strikes; huge demonstrations seeking action on climate change. Appropriately, the climate action strike coincided with our LGA Independent Group development day on Setting a vision. We at the Council of European Municipalities and Regions also presented a document of what local government is doing in regards to the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG13 on climate action.

Tackling violence and anti-social behaviour

Our  councils work hard to provide services to support men, women and children fleeing domestic violence and to help prevent it in the first place. As part of our “day job” it is councils that provide support in safe housing, children’s services, reducing crime and drug abuse, mental health and adult care. 

The United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Violence against Women takes place on 25 November. Many councils have or will put motions to council seeking to raise support and awareness in tackling this important issue. One of the 17 sustainable development goals is about equality, that “no-one will be left behind”. Specific targets to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls are included. Join in and show support by raising awareness, taking action locally and wearing something orange or a white ribbon. Some useful resources are below:  

The White Ribbon Campaign is a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls. We are invited to make a pledge, “never to commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women.” Primary prevention involves creating a culture of respectful relationships across the whole community.

Veterans and housing

This week the campaign for “No homeless veterans”, has asked us to identify and prioritise veterans. There are more than two million veterans living in England and Wales. All councils have signed the voluntary Armed Forces Covenant and work to provide a range of services to support them, including housing, money advice, employment support and health and wellbeing services. We prioritise people with a local connection according to need, but now also have a particular duty to looked after young people (18-25) and service personnel. If you have good practice happening in your area do share it with us.

Leadership Programme

Finally, our Group’s annual Leadership Programme starts this weekend, so I will be in Warwick along with our National Lead Peer, Mike Haines, expert facilitators, LGA Officers and 18 aspiring leaders all wanting to maximise their role as a councillor. I never fail to be inspired by this programme and will be sharing further details with you as the programme gets underway.  

Wishing you all the very best of luck and let us know if we can help with anything,

Kind regards,

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature
Councillor Marianne Overton MBE

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

Dates for the diary

LGA Independent Group Annual Conference
8 November 2019, London

Join us for a day of insight, debate, workshops and networking. Professor Tony Travers and Nick Golding, Editor of the LGC, are already confirmed as speakers

Reserve your free place via our conference website.

Information and Development Seminars

Join us in London or via video conference to take part in our workshops, followed by Green Party and Independent Network meetings:

  • 18 October – Managing conflict
  • 6 December – Budget setting

Regional meetings

Our autumn regional meetings begin soon, open to current members and prospective councillors within our membership. Led by our regional chairs and regional peers, these events are regionally focused and include discussion on the key issues affecting our members.

Dates already confirmed are:

  • 11 October – Uttlesford
  • 24 October – Stockton
  • 28 October – Taunton
  • 21 November – Manchester

To find out more or to RSVP to any of our events please email

In other news

Independent Members - share your views

Thank you to those who have already completed the research survey being conducted by academics in Suffolk. If you are an Independent councillor and have yet to respond, please do so. The questionnaire is short and will enable us to to promote Independents and our successes going forward.

Planning Advisory Service

If you are looking for an Independent body for advice on planning regulations, the Planning Advisory Service is a useful one. Find out more via their website.