Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 31 January 2020

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

31 January 2020


Dear all,

Councillors up and down the country are looking to see the impact of officially leaving the EU today, albeit we have a transition period where the arrangements need to be sorted out. There are many things to resolve, such as tariffs and standards which have yet to be identified and the impact of a possible border in the Irish Sea. Is it time to shift our objective from a GDP that is required to grow forever, to a growing quality of life? How about communities pooling money in local councils to provide cost-effective services for everyone, where most of us use a little less and live better? Discussions are ongoing and the LGA continue to represent our members. If your authority has any innovative post-Brexit initiatives underway, do share these with the office.  

UN sustainability

Since the LGA passed a motion last July to support the UN sustainability goals and tackle climate change, work has been underway to develop tools for councils and the government.

In opening the full LGA Climate Conference this month, I found the urgency to tackle climate change was well outlined and costed. 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.

We have collated good practice and in the process of finalising a useful checklist of steps for our members. You can find out more about our resources in the LGA’s Climate Hub. Our free Group Conference on the Climate Emergency is on Friday 14 February, I hope to see you there. 

The influence our councils can exert is very 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. Councils are rewriting local plans, challenging the rate and types of housing built, and enabling new pocket housing with high levels of insulation. The Independent Group have collated examples of the impact of the government demand for more houses to be built than we need, causing deep concern for the wellbeing of our residents and their ability to access essential services.

At the European Local Government conference in Orleans, near Paris, last week, the European Commissioner for Democracy and Demography 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 we will be taking your views to 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 a powerful voice for good. Let’s see what we can do at home in our own patches and working with others, across the globe.

Equal opportunities for all 

The 'Shaping the Future of Women in Work' Conference was held at the Hallam Concert Centre, in Central London this week, as part of the Government Events series. The impressive attendance included people from all parts of government. 15.3 million women make up 47 per cent of the workforce and working full time, earn 13 per cent less and could increase the economy by £55 billion by 2030.

Recent progress has been glacial in councils too. About a third of councillors are women, outnumbered 3:1 in 14 per cent of councils. Local government is too important to have good skills and talents left out. 

As one of the two keynote speakers at the conference, my job was to outline our LGA toolkit for councils, 'Twenty-first Century Councils, enabling and supporting women, parents and carers to stand and serve in local government' .The toolkit gives simple steps to bring culture change and improve equality across your authority.  

Please let me know what you think and if you have some examples of success in encouraging greater representation. Also I wonder if you have some case studies of how you have encouraged more women, parents and carers to stand for election. Our Be a Councillor work can help you, and we are keen to support your events with funding and speakers. Get in touch with the office if you’d like to plan something. 

Make Votes Matter

Make Votes Matter held a cross-party event in the Houses of Parliament, hosted by Baroness Natalie Bennet, one of our new LGA Vice Presidents. The meeting was well attended with good cross party support, except the Conservatives. Some events are being planned for later in the year which you may like to attend or reflect in your own areas. 

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

Prevent and counter-extremism leadership essentials course
Leeds, 4-5 February
Our next Prevent and counter-extremism course for councillors will provide members with an opportunity to explore some of the challenges and sensitivities of councils’ work to protect communities from extremism and radicalisation. All councillors are welcome to attend; bookings are via

LGA Independent Group Climate Emergency Conference
London, 14 February 
Our Climate Emergency Conference will enable members to hear from experts, share best practice and develop clear ideas to implement in your councils. Free to attend and lunch will be provided. RSVP by emailing 

LGA county lines conference
Nottingham, 24 March

An all-day conference, free to all councils. Do contact for further information. 

LGA county lines masterclass
London, Tuesday 31 
LGA's one-day training course for elected members to learn about tackling county lines and wider criminal exploitation. If you would like further information or to book a place, please contact