Draft Model Code Guidance for Councillors; Civility in public life: Digital citizenship resources; LGA Virtual Annual Conference: 6-8 July 2021; and more...

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local government association - independent group

Group Bulletin

18 May 2021


Dear Members

Following the recent local elections, our Group increased its proportionality at the LGA to 11.9 per cent and our overall membership, meaning we now have 2,928 councillors across England and Wales. The office is busy gathering the details of new councillors joining our group while our Regional Peers are supporting Members where change of control conversations are taking place.

This is the fifth year in a row where our numbers have increased, showing that residents are increasingly looking beyond the big Westminster parties and trusting Independent, Green, and smaller party members to represent them and put people over politics. Despite many successes, as with every election, we unfortunately lost some brilliant members and pass on our thanks to them for all they have done.

Further details will be circulated outlining our support for new members later in the week, in the meantime if there is anything we can do to help following changes in your authority do not hesitate to contact the office in the first instance on independent.grouplga@local.gov.uk


Draft Model Code Guidance for Councillors

Following the publication of the LGA Model Code of Conduct, views are now being sought on the accompanying draft guidance. If you would like to read and comment on the draft please contact sarah.woodhouse@local.gov.uk in the group office who can send you the relevant documents. Final comments are requested by the end of May.

New Children’s Leads

The updated version of the LGA’s popular Your First Ten Days as a Lead Member for Children’s Services guide has now been published

LGA Virtual Annual Conference: 6-8 July 2021

Bookings are open for the virtual LGA Annual Conference. The conference will be an opportunity to hear from central and local government leaders discuss and debate a wide range of issues including economic recovery, climate emergency, devolution, equalities, funding, health, housing, planning and much more. Places can be booked on the Annual Conference website

Our political speaker this year is Baroness Martha Lane-Fox, founder of lastminute.com, and a crossbench peer who sits on the COVID-19 Committee. The Baroness will be sharing her views on how councils can best support business, our high streets and look to digital innovation to contribute to the recovery from the pandemic.

Our AGM is free to attend and is taking place on the 6 July, 9.30am – 10.45am. We will also be holding group sessions on the 7 and 8 July, 9.30am – 10.30am. Details will be circulated soon.

Civility in public life: Digital citizenship resources

Across the UK, there are growing concerns about the impact that an increase in misinformation and online abuse is having on democratic processes. In response, the LGA is working with the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), and the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) on a long-term project to improve civility in public life.

Our latest resources are infographics outlining rules of engagement for social media, and top tips on how to tackle online abuse, for local authority candidates and councillors. We hope the resources will help councillors to set the tone of their contact with members of the public online and empower councillors to take appropriate action if communications break the rules of engagement.

The resources draw from the most recent available research and consultation with the sector and are the first in a series of resources which we intend to publish on the LGA Civility in public life webpage over the next few months.

Free events for Members

LGA/ DfT National Bus Strategy briefing webinar

21 May 2021, 10.30am to 12.00pm

The LGA and Department for Transport have organised a briefing session on Friday 21 May for councillors and local authority officers on the Government’s recent National Bus Strategy – Bus Back Better.

The strategy introduces a significantly enhanced role for local transport authorities, including enhanced partnership and franchising and the development of Bus Improvement Plans. The timing of the session is designed to help transport authorities with their response to the strategy with the requirement to show a commitment to move towards an Enhanced Partnership (if franchising process is not underway) by the end of June 2021. Baroness Vere, the Buses Minister has agreed to attend as well as senior DfT officials.

Unauthorised encampments

15 June 2021, 2.00pm – 3.30pm

At the webinar session on unauthorised encampments we will share case studies and some best practice from across the sector.

Training events on planning policy

8, 9 and 10 June 2021

PAS is delivering some free councillor training on planning policy, decision making and infrastructure. The session will be delivered remotely as a morning or early evenings event. If you are a councillor who is new to planning or you want a refresher or an update, please book a place.

Help the Planning Advisory Service design our Biodiversity Net Gain project

16 June 2021

The Environment Bill will bring in new requirements for planners and decision-makers in councils, in particular Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) for most planning applications. The Planning Advisory Service (PAS) has been commissioned by Defra to support councils in their efforts to get ready for the changes.

PAS wants local authority planners and members to get involved to help us decide how we best focus this support and what the priorities should be as the project evolves.  We are running a workshop on Wednesday 16 June to get input from local councillors that need to understand BNG enough to make Planning Committee decisions, as well as what the new requirements mean for their council and responsible leadership.

Find out more and to register for the PAS event. For information about the project, you can check out the Environment pages on the PAS website, the Planning for a Better Environment section of the PAS KHub forum and sign up to the PAS newsletter. We are also looking for individuals with interest in the topic and a bit of time to form a stakeholder steering group – email rebecca.moberly@local.gov.uk at PAS if you’d like to get involved.