Group Bulletin: 30 July 2021

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local government association - independent group

Group Bulletin

30 July 2021



In our final week before the holiday period, we have looked at legislation coming through with discussions to help form a group view and influence the LGA’s response to the Electoral Integrity Bill and the Environment Bill. Please let us know your thoughts too.

Elections Bill 2021

The Elections Bill 2021 is designed to reduce voter fraud by requiring people to show their ID before voting in person. I experienced this as part of a trial done in my council. The council invested in costly advertising with Government money in the weeks running up to the election. I was interested if it would increase voter turnout, but no, it was little changed. I guess that advertising why people should vote at all, would be better than advertising a new barrier to the process. The pilot was deemed a success in that 'only a small percentage' were turned away with the wrong ID. I put it that democracy is for every single person, not just most people.

Cabinet Office Voter ID Pilot 2019 Evaluation Report

Electoral Commission Voter ID 2019 Pilot Evaluation Report


Earlier today our LGA think tank discussed waste and the Environment Bill. If you couldn’t join us on the day, please ask the office for the notes. Both the conclusion of the Government’s waste consultations and the Bill have been slow going, but we continue to keep the press on, calling for ambition but any costs incurred by council’s (including lost income) to be fully covered.


Professor Colin Copus has written a great article on the Doomsday scenario for councillors and how to avoid it, covering the impact on democracy of local government re-organisation. His full report for our Independent Group on reorganisation is on our website, more relevant than ever given the resurgence of 'county deals' set out by the Prime Minister recently.


Thanks to you all for your comments and discussions on planning via emails, think tanks and our workshops. We have also done a considerable amount of lobbying with ministers, based on your views. With a decision apparently imminent from Government, we have decided to issue a new LGA position paper on planning to make our position crystal clear.

Democracy and Free Speech

I spent two days this week in front of the standards committee discussing the limits of free speech, following a tome of complaints from the Conservative Leader about my May 2020 newsletter. I am really pleased that all but one of the complaints were discarded. I was not found wanting in integrity, honesty nor lack of respect of officers, but was deemed to have overstepped the mark in a few words used in one sentence, criticising the actions of the Conservative-led group. The whole report ended up as 226 pages, but the agreed outcome was that a report would be made to full Council in September, with no further action recommended. I believe it was the first time the new LGA guidance on the code of conduct was used, so it will make an interesting case study.

New UNESCO World Heritage site in Wales

Congratulations to members in Gwynedd involved in securing UNESCO World Heritage Status for the Walsh Slate Landscape. It becomes the fourth such site in Wales.

Take a break!

I hope you have a lovely break over the summer. The office will still be manned, so please keep in touch – there is always help on hand.

We will be thinking about a review of group activities and how we best engage members from September and before our Group’s Annual Conference on Friday 29 October – hopefully held as a hybrid meeting! Please let us have your bright ideas for sessions – practical application of Donut Economics, climate change, planning and balancing post-pandemic tensions are already on the agenda.

Hope you get to enjoy a rest or a change of scenery. I look forward to catching up with you again soon.


Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature

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

Marianne Overton