Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 5 June 2020

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

5 May 2020


Greetings colleagues,

Test, Track and trace

Test, Track and trace has raised some alarm amongst our members. Test locations require being able to drive and the postal kits have been hard to access. The time taken for the results to come back remain an issue in many places, and some care home residents have had to be retested as the tests run out of time. We are seeking to make tests more widely available in chemists and surgeries.

The 2m social distancing means that we need six times as many school buses and bus drivers. Without an app, it will not be possible to track and trace strangers too close on public transport, so facial coverings will be mandatory on public transport from the June 15th (beards won’t count, but scarves might). Councils will find out imminently how much each council will receive of the agreed £300m for TTT and what strings are attached (last time, the funds for infection control in care homes did not include purchasing of PPE).



Getting children safely back to school so parents can go back to work has also raised concerns. Keeping 2m apart means a lot more classrooms are needed and around treble the number of teaching staff. This is especially difficult where staff may also be isolating. Being taught in groups called “bubbles”, means they can’t be regrouped differently with changing situations. Thank you to our Teachers and school staff who are doing a brilliant job in challenging circumstances.


Your issues raised

This week’s online meetings with our Independent Group Council Leaders and our Group Executive were very useful. Our first online Regional meeting for the Independent Group Councillors in the West Midlands and North West Region was well attended with strong discussions. I was able to incorporate many of the points raised at these three group meetings into our ministerial recovery board with Simon Clarke MP, Minister for Local Government. This week, Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Education, joined us, discussing schools. Tom Riordan joined to discuss track and trace. Please continue to let me know items you want me to raise.

Drawing on your foundation of comment, our lead members and I were able to work on your behalf in three other cross-party LGA meetings;

1) the Leadership Board governing the LGA

2) the IDEA company that has secured continued funding to provide our training and peer work and

3) the LGA Executive Advisory Board which holds our policy boards to account.



Last week, 98% of Councils submitted their evidence as to the cost of the Covid Virus to our Councils. This week the totals were received by the LGA boards and it was agreed to make them public. The government has promised to repay what we have spent. For a decade, councils have been encouraged to seek alternative sources of income, so it would be unreasonable not to invest in our recovery.


Covid-19 and BAME communities

One of our LGA Lead members held a webinar this week attended by over 700 people, talking about covid-19 and ethnicity. There is also a very informative video on our website about building an inclusive and diverse workforce. Many of our councils have seen a rise in protests linked to the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGA and its political groups have made a public cross party statement in support of tackling racism: Racism has no place in our communities or in our lives.


Recovery at the LGA

Throughout the pandemic the LGA have continued to work hard for our members and this continues as we now look to and work through the recovery phase. Members have engaged with meetings and conferences online in good numbers with lively discussions. Resources are being added to the website almost daily and we’re finding new ways to share best practice. Our Group is adapting to ensure you can access our events and support, wherever you are, but what else would you like to see? Your feedback would be very welcome.

Following your feedback, two new webinars have been added to the LGA resources for members, outlining the importance of opposition and what effective opposition looks like.


LGA Conferences for you

As you know, this year’s LGA conference had to be cancelled, but we are getting some big virtual meetings in place from June 30th to July 10th.  Keep up to date with these via the LGA events page The key ones for us are the opening session of Conference at 10am on June 30th and our Group’s webinar on the July 8th (time tbc).

Our Group AGM and conference is still going ahead but now moved to our Group Conference on the 6th November. Arrangements are being made and will adapt based on social distancing guidance.  



Local Government has proven itself in this time of crisis, at the heart of our communities. Thank you for getting all the homeless off the street in a week. Thank you for getting £10bn to over 800,000 small businesses in just a few weeks and now working on the discretionary grants that we sought to support micro-businesses and any who slipped through the cracks in the first round. We have supported care homes and carers, vulnerable people at home and children of essential workers, even right through the school holidays. We have kept essential services running, collecting bins, opened recycling sites and planning continues with hardly a falter. You are amazing. With further investment, we can do more. Using the #CouncilsCan on your social media accounts, please do share what you’ve been doing and the difference it’s made.


Want to get more engaged in the LGA Boards?

Finally, as in previous years we are asking our members to express their interest in working more closely with our Board members. If you would like to join our Board team, we have a number of substitute roles available which provide a fantastic opportunity to inform local, national and international policy, press and parliamentary work. We are also looking for those interested in being a member peer. Please complete the appropriate form(s) and review the protocol on our website and return to Sarah Woodhouse in the group office by the 10th July. If you have any questions relating to appointments please do not hesitate to get in touch.


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