Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 13 November 2020

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local government association - independent group

Group Leader's Bulletin

13 November 2020


Dear colleagues,

Over a hundred councillors attended our AGM and Conference held this week. It is astonishing how much our councillors do, in our communities, but also in properly influencing national policy through the think tanks into the LGA, into Central government and into Europe. Thank you.

It was good to hear from the LGA's Chairman, James Jamieson, whose appreciation of our group members and enjoyment of our conference was clear.  Also good to hear from our Chief Executive on the detail of just how much our councillors have contributed to LGA policy, strengthening our work to get better funding and legislation for our members and the residents we represent.

Professor Colin Copus is working on future governance in our Councils, emphasising the importance of "local" in decision-making and running of local government. "The "zombie" issue of reorganisation won’t properly die but isn't sort of alive either. But devolution doesn’t need reorganisation. It needs to pass freedoms and powers to local government from the centre and fundamentally challenge centralisation"”

We also heard from five Council Leaders; Cllr Sarah Rouse of Malvern Hills, Cllr Julian German of Cornwall, Cllr Phelim Mac Cafferty of Brighton and Hove, Cllr Rosemarie Harris from Powys and Cllr Angie Dale who leads Richmondshire. All spoke of their determination to support residents, from making committees more open and inclusive, to reshaping public areas, supporting business and the vulnerable.

Very exciting was to present awards to an amazing group of Councillors in our group. Our members lead 31 councils, are in administration of 34 more and have a significant influence for the good. Even from a position of overall control or backbenches, our members have made amazing changes, such as the Climate Emergency motion, now passed by most Councils and fundamentally improving the way they work. Even Joe Biden was listening, and has agreed to sign the Paris Agreement at the first opportunity!

Clive and I were delighted to present the awards to Councillors who have truly excelled; Cllrs Linda Gillham, Sarah Rouse and our Regional Peer Team for their significant contributions to the LGA over the last year; Cllrs Sally Hawken, Carolyn Rule and Liz Harvey, nominated by their Council Leaders for their effective leadership in their authorities; Cllrs Pauline Dee and Steven McCormick for their services to their community;  and previous Next Gen attendees Cllrs Sandra Squire and Kieron Wilson for being shortlisted for the 2020 LGiU and CCLA Cllr Awards.

Our most prestigious award, the Clarence Barrett award, went to Julian German, Leader of Cornwall Council, for outstanding achievements, including innovation and quality in the work of his Council.

Our annual report and citation presentation can be found on our website and a recording of our event will be added soon.

LGA Staff

I was really pleased to speak to around 300 LGA staff online this week, to thank them for their work and to talk about the Independent Group and how much we do in our communities, our Councils and in the LGA.


As Wales came out of their circuit breaker, England went into Lockdown. Wales made the decision to scrap GCSE and A level exams next year and work entirely on teacher assessment, supported with a £50m package.

The government record of contact tracing has not been good, but local councils have taken the complex cases with terrific success. You might like to look at these case studies and add your own. Local contact tracing partnerships If you have any good practice – linked to this or other initiatives linked to your covid response do please share with the office. We’re particularly keen to hear of examples of green recovery. 

EU Transition

Our Council Leaders met this week and on the agenda was the EU transition and the vast amount of work needing to be done ahead of January's deadline. Local government preparedness ( covers all of the main areas of work including ports and borders, EU Settlement, regulatory services and care.

Business grants

I wrote about our lobbying on this last week and this is the week we need to get the grants out to businesses. Hopefully you are encouraging them to come forward! We did an amazing job last time and hopefully will again.

Free School Meals

The Independent Group wrote to the Minister calling for school meals to be continued in the holidays. MP’s voted to reject Marcus Rashford's call to feed hungry children over school holidays The government has now reversed their decision and will provide £170 million to feed children on free school meals this Christmas. It is planned to extend this to the Easter, summer and Christmas school holidays in 2021 as well.

Elsewhere at the LGA

Modern Slavery

The LGA is running a webinar on modern slavery in supply chains next month. The details of how to register are available on our website here:


The LGA is hosting two free-to-attend events next month on Civility in public life: improving digital citizenship.  Further details and to book your place are below:-

Housing Advisors Programme

The LGA has launched the 2020/21 Housing Advisers Programme (HAP) which will be accepting applications until 5pm on 7th January 2021. Councils can bid for up to £20,000 of funding to commission specialist advice to help them innovate in meeting the housing needs of their communities.

Thank you very much indeed for all you, holding the fabric of our communities together.

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