Independent Group Leader's Bulletin 4 October 2019

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

4 October 2019


Dear friends and colleagues,

If you heard the debate on the Domestic Abuse Bill in Parliament on Wednesday, you would be impressed at the passion and determination of MPs to do something to help those in distress. Now on its second reading, the Bill seeks to establish a Commissioner to protect those giving evidence and to include offences outside the UK.

Our Government signed up to Goal 5 to achieve gender equality in the UN Declaration of 2015, which includes tackling domestic violence. They declared a day, November 25, to support women against violence and you are invited to wear orange in solidarity. Likewise you may have seen the White Ribbon campaign, a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls.

You might like to have a look at the statistics for the national picture, for your authority, shown in your annual “Joint Needs Assessment”. I also looked at our district, one of the lowest crime areas, and found over a 1,000 cases presented last year, increasing this year due to more detailed recording. There are more than 10,000 reports per year for our county. One of our residents was at the UN and came to council to ask a question; “Would you support the UN Day supporting women against Violence?” One of our younger members put the motion to council with resounding support.

Recognising the problem and being openly determined to tackle domestic abuse sends a message to the public that the council is there for them when it matters. It seems there is still significant under-reporting. A third of the cases raised were men, but of those actually fleeing and seeking urgent accommodation from the council, only three out of 76 were men.

Worrying is the impact on children either suffering violence or witnessing it. A third of children witnessing domestic abuse will go on to suffer as an adult. Supporting and safeguarding child witnesses is vital. Lincolnshire has achieved top level status for safeguarding services, working across organisations. Support for refuges still relies on voluntary sector support and donations.

We are following up the debate with a fund-raising event on the day for local charities supporting those fleeing violence. Do share what you’re doing in your area.

Meanwhile, the Conservative Party conference news was dominated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealing his EU deal. Northern Ireland is to stay in the European single market for goods but leave the customs union, resulting in new customs checks. I think that means we have a border and no border, which sounds a bit like the last deal. We shall see. The European Commission welcomed "advances" but said problems remained. The PM insists we will be leaving the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal, despite legislation designed to prevent the no-deal option. The Irish Prime Minister feels this "does not fully meet the agreed objectives of the backstop", meaning that a hard border would exist after Brexit.

I shall be listening carefully and hearing plenty of responses from the Plaid Cymru and Green Party conferences which I am glad to be attending this weekend. At the latter, we are holding a reception for members to discuss our key asks ahead of the Queen’s Speech scheduled for 14 October. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible there!

Last weekend saw the new cohort of the Next Generation Leadership Training get together with great vitality, developing leadership skills for their community and their councils. We have our biggest turnout this year and look forward to more signing up for next year, through the Independent Group Office. The other key date coming up is our Group Conference on 8 November where we will be joined by our new Chairman, Cllr James Jamieson; Professor Tony Travers; academics working on climate change; and Nick Golding from the Local Government Chronicle. Reserve your place.

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

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 as follows:

  • 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

Free commercial skills for councillors masterclass

London, Manchester Taunton and Birmingham

Councillors have a valuable role within commercialisation. Councils’ purpose is not to make profits, but generating a financial return on investments and tradeable activities can help local authorities to achieve their priorities. Good commercial strategy centres around solving social challenges and finding sustainable ways to drive income that can help to achieve social value. Elected members are increasingly involved in commercial activity, in portfolio, board and scrutiny roles. It is critical that members have sufficient skills to understand and appropriately challenge the commercial proposals that are put forward to them and to ensure that decisions taken are confident, appropriate and robust. The training is hosted by an LGA member peer and a commercial expert.

Cllr Jim McKenna, Independent Cornwall Councillor, is hosting the Taunton masterclass. Cllr McKenna said “Cornwall Council has adopted a more commercial approach within a number of its service areas for several years now, generating additional revenue for reinvestment locally. I am looking forward to sharing a case study with councillors at the LGA’s Taunton masterclass and also hearing about best practice elsewhere in the South West.”

To find out more visit the Commercial skills for councillors masterclass web page.