Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 18 September 2020

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

18 September 2020


Good morning colleagues!

Our Independent Group Executive and council leaders met online this week and raised key concerns for LGA support to tackle the government on:

  • lack of timely COVID-19 testing
  • concern about the impact of schools reopening
  • sweeping changes to planning
  • proposed housing numbers
  • government re-organisation.

Government re-organisation

At the LGA, we have strongly made the case that it was too much to pressurise councils to do local government re-organisation at the same time as sweeping planning changes, dealing with COVID-19, recovery, responding to ongoing challenges around care and our climate while also leaving the EU. There seems, hopefully, to be a stepping back for now on the forced re-organisation, unwanted by many.

It is, however, a good time to keep making your case if you are fighting against re-organisation and you may well like to take up our group’s offer of arranging a meeting in your area to discuss the most effective shared approach for you. Even if plans have slowed down, the government has not actually changed its mind yet so best to be prepared, given there is an emerging pattern of centralisation.


We shall continue to call for devolution of power and money to councils. We are the more trusted and cost-effective level of government and closest to residents, best place to run local services, rather than central government.

Planning workshop online: Friday, 12.00pm

Do you remember Greg Clarke MP introducing the current Planning Policy Framework as a much briefer and simpler central Government framework? Councils then wrote their own local plans with local policies and allocated sites, where the principle of what should be on the site agreed in the Local Plan. The Local Plans are updated every five years with full consultation and avoid short-termism by working over 20 to 30 years. We do design guides and site masterplans on large sites, where it is cost-effective. Compared to the time taken to design, sell and build the houses, the few weeks in the planning system is minimal and coincides with much of the design stage. It is not planning that holds up the rate of development!

The White Paper proposes going back to centralising planning policies, instead of having them in local plans. In line with Mr Johnson’s announcement of “build, build, build”; just three categories are proposed, areas for growth, renewal and a review of green areas.

There are failings in the current system, but it is hard to see how these sweeping changes do anything to address those. Please have a good look and see what recommendations for change you want to make and join our discussion at 12.00pm if you wish to input into the LGA’s consultation response. Contact Noleen Rosen for the zoom details.


  • Please kindly contribute a copy of your response to the planning white paper and we will share it online to help others.
  • Please also send a copy of any recovery plans, to share and strengthen good ideas.
  • Please share any press cuttings to help press home the difference in approach between the centralised government and you as a local, Independent group councillor. We have a good case to make!

Survey reminder

This has been an extraordinary time to be a councillor, and we learn through adversity Please share your experience using our ten minute survey

Group Conference: 6 November 2020

Join us at our online group conference, morning session (10am – 12.30pm) and evening social (6.008.00pm) Please register your interest by emailing:


If your council has a port or airport and you would be interested in us holding a group meeting on this issue as we transition out of the EU, please let Sarah in the office know.

The Net Zero Innovation Programme

You may want to get your council signed up to this funded programme to help you address climate change and achieve your net zero commitments. This is a new collaboration between the LGA and University College London. The net Zero Innovation Programme brings together local authorities, universities and other stakeholders.

The network provides training and project funding for councils and universities working in partnership. Find out more about The Net Zero Innovation Programme and apply now. The application closing date is 25 September 2020.

Visit the LGA Climate Change hub or email for more information.


Register your interest for the below by emailing

LGA Independent Group Planning workshop

18 September 2020, 12.00pm – 2.00pm

LGA Independent Group regional meetings

The first regional meeting takes place on 22 September 2020 for members in the North West and West Midlands                                                    

LGA workshop on local government legislation

6 October 2020, 11.00am – 12.30pm. This will be a closed session for members with a local government lawyer, outlining some of the key legislation governing local government. This will be of particular interest to all peers and new councillors.

LGA Independent Group AGM

6 November, 10.00am – 12.30pm.  

LGA Independent Group social

6 November, 6.00pm – 8.00pm.

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