Group Bulletin: 23 July 2021

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local government association - independent group

Group Bulletin

23 July 2021


Dear colleagues,

“Freedom Day”

As the PM spent “Freedom Day” in isolation amidst rising infection and to a lesser extent hospital infections, our Councils and Councillors have urged caution. As both Parliament and children break for the summer recess today, vaccination of teenagers has begun. In a recent study, testing has been found to be a reasonably effective way to avoid isolation, so the rules are recommended and followed, though not legally enforceable.

What does the LGA do for you?

The annual summaries of the incredible amount of work done by the LGA were presented at the LGA Executive Advisory Board this week, along with the LGA’s current hot topics and a paper on Levelling Up – all worth a read.

In case you missed it, “Build Back Local” is this year’s conference paper. The breadth and depth of key issues facing councils and presentation in the report of workable solutions to government is really heartening.

Social Care - We were very close to getting a settlement on the long-term finance for adult care, and will be pursuing this in the new term while central government continues to fall short.

Remote meetings - Our group and others have been hammering away at the ability to have remote and hybrid meetings, like the MP’s do, but the negative reply is unchanged so far.

Levelling Up - I spoke up on the levelling up agenda, calling for local government to be given the funds it needs, rather than jumping through political hoops with our MP’s and a time-consuming bidding process. We also called for it to be clearly separated from any requirement for local government re-organisation.

Re-organisation - Last week we had the Minister’s letter calling for councils who might re-organise. This week we have the announcement of nine Councils reduced to four; North Yorkshire, East and West Cumbria and Somerset. Please have a look at the report we commissioned from Professor Colin Copus, laying out concerns about the adverse impact on local democracy.

Planning - Building Beautiful Places proposals establishes a new Government Office for Place to help councils and communities banish the ‘ugly developments’ we were all apparently about to build and deliver Government-led ‘beautiful, green homes’ instead. An updated planning policy framework is also being published as well as a National Model Design Code. This sets an expectation that all councils should develop a local design code, including local consultation. Work tackling the national planning proposals continues.

Health and care reforms - The changes to health and care could be extremely significant and new announcements on ICS boundaries in areas including the East of England, West Birmingham and Frimley came this week. We need Councils to be in the driving seat, with care not subsumed into the NHS. While boundaries and working arrangements continue to be worked out, some Councils are developing their Health and Wellbeing Boards into Integrated Health and Care Partnerships. What’s happening in your area?

COP26 - We continue working towards COP26, engaging ministers with our cross-party group to enable the strongest platform for our members before, at and after the event.

Is your Council about to borrow money?

To help Councils be Independent of government the LGA has developed the Municipal Bonds Agency which is now up and running, a source of funds independent from Central Government and at a lower interest rate. Please get in touch and join the growing initiative! 

Our Group Executive

Our Independent Group Executive had their annual appointments meeting this week. There were over 30 applications and we worked to get the best people for the job, with a political balance reflective of our group, and a balance of geography, gender, council type, experienced and new members. Those appointed will be informed shortly and invited to an induction day on Thursday 9 September.

If you missed the deadline this time, do still let the office know if you are interested in getting involved with our Board work and please join the policy development conversations in the appropriate think tank.

We have agreed to set up a working group on engaging with as many members as possible, reporting back in October. We also agreed to ask an expert outside of our group to review our election procedures.

Hannah and Paul have both made a flying start to the LGA year, making significant contributions on your behalf at the main LGA Board and Executive and in our Independent Group.

Huge thanks to you for all you are doing in your communities and in the Council. Please continue to share useful motions or petitions with the office and find example ideas on the Resources hub.

Wishing you a really good break and the Olympics begin. Enjoy!


Electoral Integrity Briefing: Wednesday 28 July, 1pm - 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, 11am – 12.30pm

This environment think tank session will look at current proposals around waste and recycling and provide members will an opportunity to inform the LGA’s work around the environment bill. Email to confirm your attend 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

Marianne Overton