Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 17 July 2020

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

17 July 2020


Dear colleagues,

Prime Minister’s statement

Earlier today the Prime Minister delivered a statement setting out the next stage of the country’s response to the outbreak. He confirmed that the national R rate remains between 0.7 and 0.9, with the number of infections and deaths falling each day and praised frontline NHS and Council care staff.

Across the country from tomorrow, local authorities will be able to close specific premises, cancel events and close public spaces in response to local outbreaks. Next week, draft regulations will set out central government’s powers to intervene at a local level where justified. This will include closing whole sectors or types of premises in a certain area, introducing local ‘stay at home’ orders, preventing people leaving or entering defined areas, reducing the maximum size of gatherings beyond national rules and restricting transport systems serving local areas. This will all rely on good tracking and testing. These new local and national powers are further outlined in the Government’s framework for containing and controlling future outbreaks in England.

There is concern over a second wave and to alleviate winter pressures more widely, the number of ventilators has been increased, the “biggest ever flu vaccination programme” will be rolled out, Nightingale hospitals will be maintained until the end of March 2021 and £3 billion of new money will be provided to the NHS.

He went on to lift the lockdown further in terms of public transport and workplaces. Most remaining leisure settings will reopen from 1 August 2020. Indoor performances and larger gatherings will be subject to pilots, and wedding receptions will be allowed for up to 30 people. Nightclubs and soft play areas will remain closed. From October, audiences in stadia could resume, as could conferences and events. Any outstanding restrictions being reviewed in November possibly for Christmas.

The LGA has stated that a local approach is the best one, but we will need the required data to be most effective.

Ministerial meetings this week

I had two ministerial meetings this week which gave us good opportunity to make our case on recovery and on the transition from the EU. Thank you for raising issues that I was able to incorporate into the points made. I also picked up the point that the EU has agreed to spend 25% of its income on green infrastructure, widely including tackling climate change, mitigation, energy sources and more. We need to enable our green infrastructure businesses to keep pace, helping our economy.

Thanks to Independent Group Council Leaders (now up to 32 across England and Wales) who contributed to our online meeting about recovery of tourism. And thank you for making important points that I was able to include in the discussions with Nigel Huddleston MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage.

LGA meetings this week

The LGA Board met this week as did the Executive Advisory Board, LGA Councillor’s Forum and our own Group Executive.

The LGA Advisory Board includes regional leaders from across the country and considered the forthcoming elections next May. The government has taken our view and ruled out wholly postal voting, I am pleased to say.

The Independent Group Executive met and discussed the range of meetings we have coming up for members, including the remaining regional networks and think tank groups on fire, culture and a meeting for our districts on devolution. We will also be arranging a session with our Executive members to discuss the code of conduct (more below).

The Group Executive agreed new members joining the boards as substitutes for this year, thank you to all who expressed an interest – we were able to ensure everyone who did is part of our wider Board team. Our Lead Peer, Mike Haines, joined us to discuss the Improvement and Peer Support programme which has undergone a huge amount of work, supporting council peer reviews, mentoring and the Next Generation Programme, which, incidentally, is about to reopen for applications.

The Councillors Forum, with 84 people on line from around the country, gave the floor to Tom Riordan to talk about track and trace. The work of each of our boards made a very impressive presentation with much success in supporting our members and shaping government thinking. All Board papers can be found on the LGA’s website.

In a meeting this week with Tom Riordan, CE from Leeds and a leader of the track and trace initiative, I was pleased to hear that the significant role of local councillors was emphasised. As recognised leaders of our communities, it is our job to listen to the public and share information, helping to influence our localities and keep them safe.

In a radio interview this week for the LGA, I was asked how well our Councils have done and whether we had worked well together cross party and was really pleased to say yes. The LGA June survey found that 87% of people are satisfied or very satisfied with their Councils. So well done all. Councils have £300m to support “test and trace”, using our skills in public health and in environmental health.

Code of conduct

There are three consultation webinars, the first of which I am chairing on 29 July 2020, looking at the draft model code of conduct produced by the LGA. This webinar will provide attendees with the opportunity to hear about the proposed draft code, ask questions, give their opinions and make suggestions for alterations to the draft code. The views from these webinars will complement the online consultation questionnaire the LGA is undertaking on the consultation draft Model Member Code of Conduct.

It is critical for you to take a look and share your views on this as it affects us all. We want good a culture of good standards. It is important that it is not used as a political tool (as we know, it is not always the guilty who find themselves under investigation.) I am especially concerned about a proposal for a two month suspension without appeal.

Details of forthcoming event are below – I encourage you all to sign up to these free webinars.

Wishing you all a nice weekend.

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

Group events

21 July, 11.30amLGA Independent Group Fire Think Tank meeting on the key issues facing our fire services. If you sit on a fire authority or are generally interested in these issues join this update and chance to discuss changes and challenges with the LGA’s Chair of the Fire Services Management Committee, Cllr Ian Stephens.

23 July, 11am – Join the LGA’s Culture, Tourism, Sport and Leisure group to discuss ongoing challenges and recent announcements effecting this critical sector. This discussion will be chaired by Cllr Julian German, Leader of Cornwall Council and our Lead member on the LGA CTS Board.

28 July, 10.30am – District councillors are invited to attend a session on devolution and what recent announcements might mean for your area. This session is chaired by Cllrs Jason Zadrozny and Zoe Nicholson, our lead members on the District Councils Network.

29 July, 1.30pm – Member in the East of England and East Midlands regions are invited to join our regional meeting

30 July, 10.30am – Members in the South East and London are invited to join our regional meeting

RSVP to any of the above events by emailing

Other LGA events

LGA events continue online, take a look at the LGA event website and sign up for free. Some events are highlighted below:

Tackling obesity during the COVID-19 pandemic, 20 July, 2:30pm - 4:00pm - ‘COVID-19 has brought the impact of unhealthy weight into sharp focus with clear evidence now emerging that obesity is one of the highest risk factors associated with serious complications in patients with COVID-19. As our communities emerge from COVID-19 there is an opportunity to put health and wellbeing at the centre of the recovery. This webinar will look at the emerging evidence on COVID-19 and obesity and the actions councils and system leaders can take to tackle this chronic disease. Speakers will include Cllr Sue Woolley, Lincolnshire County Council, LGA Community Wellbeing Board (Chair), Dr Alison Tedstone, National Director – Diet, Nutrition and Obesity, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England and Cllr David Brake, Chairman, Health and Wellbeing Board and Lead Member for Adult Services, Medway Council. Please click on the above link for further information and to book.

Two webinars have been launched this week to share and hear about the experiences and lessons learned from outbreaks. The first on 22 July is focused on Food Processing - Experiences, Lessons Learned, and the Role of the HSE. The second on 23 July is surrounding Testing Prototypes, Communications and Engagement. You can register for these webinars by following the links. More will be confirmed on these events in the coming days.

Reset, not restart: shaping the future of social care in light of COVID-19, 27 July 2020, 2.30pm - 4.00pm - ‘The LGA are running a webinar examining the legacy for social care coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a tragedy that it has taken a pandemic to put these challenges squarely in the public spotlight. But it has and we cannot allow this to be exacerbated by not taking this moment of national awareness and resolve to finally secure the longer-term reforms that are needed. Confirmed speakers include James Bullion, ADASS President, and Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board. Please click on the above link for further information and to book.’