Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 24 January 2020

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

24 January 2020


Dear all,

It’s been a week full of climate change activity, starting with the ‘Energising The East’ event in Norwich on Monday, where Dr Catherine Rowett, one of our Green MEPs, hosted the launch of a new transformation plan for the climate emergency in the region; a good idea for every region.

Since the LGA passed a motion last July to support the UN sustainability goals and tackle climate change, we have collated a baseline of work by 100 councils, to share good practice. There is a useful checklist of ideas for your councils, with steps you might want to put through council or raise at committee. This was passed through the Executive this week but is only the start  of our work in this area. If you would like to contribute, you can join the Group’s Environment Economy, Housing and Transport think tank, accessed via the Group Office.

Our free LGA Group conference on the climate emergency is being held on 14 February, you should have received your invitation earlier today. Everyone is welcome, so do contact the office to reserve your place or to get further detail. We will cover more in the regional conferences too, dates of which will be confirmed soon.

Have your say: We have a short survey to gather your views ahead of 14 February, so please take a few minutes to share what’s happening where you are.

I was pleased to open the LGA climate emergency conference on Wednesday. The urgency to tackle climate change was well outlined by experts from the University of Oxford, the Natural Capital Committee and from the Committee on Climate Change. Examples of actions were costed out by Friends of the Earth in terms of greenhouse gas reduction as a return on investment, showing which actions are most effective. It is clearly important to include the whole life impact of what we use, not just the part as it passes through the council, or indeed through the UK. Clearly the best solution is to use less. Insulation and switching energy sources are the most effective starting points.

The influence our councils can exert is vital. The irony of reducing a council’s own carbon footprint while giving permission for huge numbers of houses and tarmac has yet to be resolved. New pocket housing with high levels of insulation is being developed. 

Also this week was the European Local Government conference in Orleans, near Paris. We spoke to the European Commissioner for Democracy and Demography from Croatia and she agreed on the importance of collaborative working across all European countries to tackle the global targets we share. The European Green Deal is coming forward and I will be taking your views to the CEMR, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, which includes all European Local Government. I represent you and indeed, all 100,000 authorities of Europe as the CEMR spokesperson on the Environment. When we work together, we can create an powerful voice for good.

I guess you have either just settled your budgets or about to and you may find the outcome of last Friday’s Independent Group session on budget-setting useful. We outlined the national picture and our work with the Secretary of State, Luke Hall MP, working to get the best we can for your authorities. Thank you to Cllrs Gillian Ford and Phelim Mac Cafferty for helping to lead that session.

And finally, huge congratulations and thank you to the brilliant team of councillors graduating from the Next Generation Leadership Training at Warwick University this weekend. This programmes, taking place over three weekends, is open to all councillors to apply. We get the best speakers in the country matched to the needs of the participants. If you would like to join us next year, please let Sarah know. 

Best wishes in all that you are doing. Good luck!

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

Friday 14 February, 11am to 3.30pm
Join our Climate Emergency Conference for a day of experts, case studies, sharing best practice and networking. Free for members. Lunch will be provided. To RSVP email

Friday 13 March, 11am to 1pm
Information and Development Seminar on Election Law

Friday 15 May, 11am to 1pm
Information and Development Seminar on Planning, including local and neighbourhood plans