Independent Group Leader's Bulletin: 9 July 2021

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local government association - independent group

Member Bulletin

9 July 2021


Greetings colleagues,

I am honoured, humbled and thrilled to be continuing as Leader for two years, huge thanks for your support.  It’s fascinating to think we are the only Group to have ever elected two women at the top. We shall be making sure we are inclusive, engaging and encouraging of all our members.

We are a diverse group, leading and representing many communities across England and Wales. We will be listening carefully to you, and drawing on our shared talents and skills to help make local government the best it can be. Together with other government in the UK and Europe, we will be tackling huge challenges in climate change, protecting our natural world and creating a COVID recovery that strengthens our economy, our environment and our communities. Further big challenges have been created for us by our own Prime Minister and Cabinet: the sweeping away of local planning as we know it; government re-organisation; and keeping services funded and local, including care.

I know you will join with me in offering a very warm welcome to Cllr Hannah Dalton, as Deputy, and Cllr Paul Woodhead, our Treasurer, completing the team for two years. Thank you to candidates, Cllrs Julian German and Andrew Cooper, who continue their current key roles in the LGA.

Huge thanks to Cllr Clive Woodbridge, stepping down as Deputy Leader. Clive is excellent, very supportive to all our members, a valuable strategic thinker and a person of good sense and integrity, an honour to know. I hope he will be working with us in a different role within the LGA.

LGA Conference

For those able to join our virtual conference this year, I hope you found the sessions useful.

We held our Independent Group AGM, and published our annual report on all the work done over the last year. It is remarkable and well worth a read.

At the LGA's General Assembly, Green Councillors Phelim Mac Cafferty and Julian Dean presented a motion to renew our focus on climate issues ahead of COP26. It was supported unanimously by the LGA as a whole.

Our Group sessions on climate change and local government reorganisation were extremely insightful, with lots of thoughtful questions from our members. It was a real honour to host inspiring Baroness Martha Lane-Fox on our main platform, sharing her tremendous experience on digitalisation and technology, entrepreneurship and as chair of the Lord’s COVID select committee.

There were a number of resources referred to by our speakers, listed below.

UK100 resources

Thank you to our contributors – Martha, Professor Colin Copus, Cllr Bridget Petty, Cllr Bob Jennings and Karen from UK100 for a brilliant line-up.

For the LGA as a whole, I chaired a session on civility in public life and Cllr Hannah Dalton chaired a session with the Minister on building safety, after Grenfell. The overall line-up of speakers was impressive with a number of Ministers, top political figures from all sides, Professor Chris Whitty and the Rt Hon Sajid Javid who returns to the front benches as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and has clearly started very enthusiastically!

Recordings from the Independent Group Sessions are available from the office on request. You can catch up on any conference sessions you missed via the conference website.

LGA Presidency

At Conference we paid a huge thanks to Lord Bob Kerslake, an Independent cross-bencher who has served us well for his six years as LGA President. He brought valuable experience leading the Civil Service and then directly supporting councils and local government. Bob remains one of our group’s Vice Presidents, who we will work closely with as we go into the next parliamentary session. At the AGM, he handed over to Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson, Olympic winner whose track record is about bringing a healthier, happier and fairer society. 

Climate change case studies

In the run up to COP26, the LGA will be launching its Pass the Planet campaign to highlight and showcase good practice from councils across the UK. On a course traveling through England and Wales and finishing near Glasgow for the start of the conference in November, councils from every region will have the opportunity to pass the planet to one another, sharing good practice and case studies along the way. These case studies will link with one of the four COP26 goals: mitigation, adaptation, finance and collaboration.

Councils that take part will be featured in LGA bulletins, social media, networking channels and the campaign webpage. There is still time to join in and submit your case study by filling in this case study form. Once a case study has been submitted, we will be in touch regarding the 'pass the planet' part of the campaign.

Lunchtime drop-in with regional peers

Our peers are experienced councillors who have undergone accreditation to assist councillors and councils. On Tuesday 13 July we are holding the first of our peer drop-in sessions for new and existing members who have a query they’d like to speak to a peer about.

This could be anything from policy or procedure at your council to how best to approach a group issue or local ward inquiry. Councillor Mike Haines (Teignbridge) and Councillor Ron Woodley will be available from 12.00pm-1.00pm so feel free to drop by, using this Teams link or calling Sarah Woodhouse on 0207 664 3206.  

Elections Bill briefing

On Wednesday 28 July, 1.00pm - 2.30pm, we’ll be holding a briefing on the new Elections Bill, which seeks to bring measures forward on voter identification, postal and proxy voting measures, accessibility of polls, EU voting and candidacy, digital imprints, the role of the Electoral Commission and a new electoral sanction on intimidation.

This event will give you a chance to find out more about what the Bill means and discuss how our group should respond to it.

You can find out more about the Bill via this government factsheet and can sign up for this event by emailing the group office and using the subject title Elections Bill.

Hannah, Paul and I look forward to a very successful two years enabling you to do a great job for residents. We have big challenges on our plate and it will take all of us to get it right. Please watch for these weekly emails, including details of our events, resources and news updates, and let us know what you think.

Thank you very much for your crucial support. Together humans are changing the world and together with you, our members, we need to make sure it is for the better!


Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature

Councillor Marianne Overton
Leader of the Independent Group
Vice Chair of the Local Government Association

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE