Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 26 June 2020

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

26 June 2020


Good Afternoon all,

LGA Conference

Our biggest annual event starts next Tuesday. The LGA conference is held as a series of events over two weeks and free to you as members. We are focussing on recovery plenaries and spotlight events on managing a crisis, the role of the councillor and the green reset to name a few. Our Group debate is on the 8th July at 10am with keynote speaker Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Paralympian, Crossbench Peer and one of our Vice Presidents. We’re thrilled to have Tanni’s involvement and perspective on the importance of public transport and physical activity in our community recovery from Covid-19.

Thanks to two of our leading members, Cllrs Hannah Dalton and Wayne Davies, who are organising a social gathering for us via zoom on the 3rd July at 7pm. No substitute for meeting in person but a nice chance to all get together so hold the date and sign up to join us here or let the office know if you’d like to attend.

All conference sessions are free for members to attend so I encourage you to book yourself on as many sessions as you can. We are finding the sessions very popular and have to close at a thousand, so please book soonest.

Press interviews and financial situation facing councils

The financial cost in dealing with the virus has been carefully costed and the June figures for every council made public. Councils of all sizes are looking to make reductions in services, use reserves or as a last resort may have to tell the government that they cannot make ends meet. As we know, unlike other government departments and services, councils have to make ends meet every year. After the £3.2bn already received, there remains an immediate shortfall of approximately £3.7bn for the period after July. At the LGA, we are all working solidly with ministers and civil servants to make sure our case is clear. Councils are vital both to support our residents now and to lead the future recovery.

Ministerial meeting this week

The useful diversity of our membership was again highlighted this week with issues being raised with the Minister on behalf of the Isles of Scilly, City of London and rural Herefordshire. We spoke with Simon Clarke MP and Mims Davies MP about local leadership of employment and skills, the importance of a green economy and challenges councils are experiencing around funding, track and trace data and rough sleeping. We have secured promises on the data which I trust you will see properly reflected in your Councils.  

I was also able to reflect on the discussion held at our culture and leisure think tank meeting this week – a first for us as we make our think tanks even more accessible.

As you’ll have seen, there is further opening up of the country on the 4th July, guidance on which can be found here. Social distancing remains important and you will no doubt be as horrified as I at the impact on Bournemouth Beach this week.

The value of Local Government

Through Covid, the government has made a number of centralised services, from over a million individual, though standard, food and medicine deliveries, to covid tests and volunteers. Many of these ‘central initiatives’ are areas traditionally led by Local Government. We have worked this week to point out how vital our Local Councils remain, often picking up the pieces when local solutions are clearly needed.

With licensing and planning undergoing sweeping changes, we have this week been making the case once again for the value of local government leadership, rather than simple participation.

Local Government brings a range of bodies together to create a strategic direction in the best interests of all in the area and with support from the electorate. At the same time it is local authorities which provide on the ground teams with partners to wrap a range of services round an individual. Whether it is attracting big industry to an area from abroad or getting a homeless person back on their feet and into employment, it is local government who are best placed to do that. The recent polling, as referred to in my bulletin last week, gives us a significant boost.

Code of Conduct

The LGA’s DRAFT Code of Conduct is still out for consultation and I encourage everyone to read and respond as it will affect all of us. There are some changes I believe we will want to make. I hope it can be put in a more positive manner to ensure it is helpful. It should not appear threatening to those who are good councillors, doing their best for their communities in a party political world. Does it look like a tool to uphold standards and protect the innocent? Should a council be able to override the will of the electorate and exclude a councillor for two months at a time? What appeal process can we get in place in our councils? Your views are vital so please feed these into the group office by emailing

Calls for public realm changes

Many of our members are receiving calls for changes to the names of estates and streets and the removal of statues, and in some cases objections to those calls. The LGA have therefore produced a short document aimed at ensuring whatever is decided, community cohesion isn’t damaged and ideally enhanced.

I look forward to seeing you soon online at the LGA conferences!


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