Group Bulletin: 16 July 2021

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local government association - independent group

Group Bulletin

16 July 2021


Dear Colleagues,

Whilst extreme weather events escalate, in West Germany this time, we continue to work on our Climate Change Actions emanating from hopefully every council in the country, working with local businesses and communities. The contributions for the "Pass the Planet" initiatives as a prelude to COP26 are coming in to the LGA now. Many are signing up to the UK100 pledge as well. How are you getting on in your council? We need to make big changes, not get preoccupied in the stationery cupboard!

Our Independent Group council leaders met on Monday in heartening number, and welcoming new council leaders too. Members raised significant concerns about lifting lockdown whilst COVID cases and hospitalisations are rising rapidly. We agreed to write to the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid MP, whom we know well from his previous appointment as the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

We are seeking the ability to make local restrictions if required, and are certainly encouraging continued use of face coverings, keeping personal distance and open air. We are also concerned about young people not being vaccinated as we enter the summer holidays.

We've heard from the PM about his levelling up agenda and Robert Jenrick MP wrote to council leaders reviving the county-based reorganisation that was quietly dropped before the elections. The pressure is back. We are already one of the most centralised governments in the Europe and ever bigger Government units take the power to influence ever further from the people. Combining back office services makes efficiency savings, but it is important to keep our identity and our democratic accountability. We have called for local decision-making on this issue. The time and money spent on rearranging ourselves is time and money not focussed on the bigger challenges in front of us. Professor Colin Copus' report researched for us explores the impact of large unitarisation on Independents and smaller party councillors – less than 20 pages and well worth a read!

Our new President, Paralympic winner and crossbench peer, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, is making a great start. I talked to her this week about working closely on our priorities linked to legislation going through the house: funding, environment, planning, electoral integrity and care.

Thanks for your comments coming forward in correspondence, through the office, our events and especially through our think tanks and networks, which every member can join. Comments from you link to the cross-party LGA boards where members are working hard to improve what the Government is doing, as well as European bodies.

Along with big challenges ahead in recovering from COVID and tackling climate change, we also have to deal with the extra stumbling blocks the Government itself is creating for us through re-reorganisation and sweeping away planning as we know it. Your voices, independent from Government control, are needed now, more than ever. Thank you for being there for our residents and working with us at the LGA at all levels to make the improvements we need.


Elections Bill briefing

Wednesday 28 July, 1.00pm -2.30pm

This briefing session will look at 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. 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.

EEHT think tank session: waste and recycling

Friday 30 July, 11.00am – 12.30pm

This environment think tank session will look at current proposals around waste and recycling and provide members with an opportunity to inform the LGA's work around the environment bill. Email to confirm your attendance by emailing the group office and using the subject "Waste session".


Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature

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

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE