Group Bulletin: 1 October 2021

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local government association - independent group

Group Bulletin

1 October 2021


Greetings, Colleagues!

I hope you are well and looking after yourself as we move into the busy season. Congratulations to those who are newly joining us in the Independent Group following successful by-elections. We welcome talent and skills to the Group and look forward to your contributions in the LGA, in our councils and in our communities.

Group awards

A final reminder that our Group Awards close for nominations at lunchtime on Monday 4 October. At our Group Conference on 29 October we will be presenting citations as well as the Clarence Barrett Award. If there’s a colleague that really stands out please complete the short form on our website.

Conference Season

If watching the news from the Labour conference this week and Conservative next, makes you jump up and shout out better ideas, please sign up for our own Independent Group Conference on Friday 29 October!

Fuel Crisis

Congratulations to all bikers and walkers, managing without fuel for transport at least!  With a long period of working online, our local shops and local services are happy to be kept busy as we remember to promote local purchases wherever possible to reduce van traffic and keep our local businesses going.

Good News Stories

Councillors across the country do a huge amount of amazing things in their communities. Can we collect some of the good news stories to help raise the profile of our councillors and help people see the range of what we do? 

For example, Cllr Angie Dale, Leader of Richmondshire, is also cooking weekly breakfasts for local veterans. Others are putting on a weekly or fortnightly lunch for older people. In my area, we are creating a second 200 activity packs and inviting youth groups to deliver them to the doors of people who have needed our covid support food and medicine deliveries.  Many are having thank you events, and we enjoyed a huge Flag Fest which was the culmination of a series of craft events, involving everyone we could think of! 

Please can you share a photo, a two minute video or a couple of paragraphs from your area with the group office? We’ll collate them into a heartening ideas page on the web and share good ideas.

Civility in Public Life

The LGA cross-party task group on Civility in Public Life met this week to discuss plans for improving the way Councillors are treated by the public and by each other. Recognition of the good work done by councillors to improve our communities remains key if we are to be a democracy.

The new Online Safety Bill will put responsibilities on the Social media companies to shut down overheated exchanges that could lead to bullying or violence. Ongoing low-level harassment is also in our sights. We are hugely defensive of Article 10 under the 1998 Human Rights Act, giving freedom of expression to us all and to the press. However, laws still apply against libel, harassment, bullying and intimidation and social media will need to take more responsibility. To avoid falling foul, you have to be able to produce evidence of why you thought something was true.

We are preparing a new toolkit for councillors and will be making a further call for evidence. If councillors misbehave, I hope colleagues will speak up at the time. The new LGA Model Code of Conduct and guidance is available as a foundation, but it is so much about relationships and culture, of course.  We also have our Independent Group team of accredited peers to assist in confidence.

Your Voice in Europe

Over 100 leading councillors from across the continent of Europe met online this week for the Council of Municipalities and Regions “retreat”. I spoke on making our work on tackling our impact on the Environment effective, not lip service. There were a lot of good speeches, accessible online soon. Download the forthcoming work programme. I have been drawing on discussions in the Economy, Environment, Housing and Transport think tank to make contributions to discussions in Europe. Thank you those who have contributed so fully, hugely appreciated.  I have also continued work on your behalf supporting the “expert groups” on energy and emissions in the European Green deal. If we want to trade with Europe, we may well find we have to comply in some aspects.

Food and Climate declaration

You may like to support the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration ahead of COP26. One of our Independent Group Council Leaders, Cllr Phelim Mac Cafferty of Brighton and Hove City Council is introduced at 1 hour 19 minutes, well worth a listen! The Council has been awarded the Food Strategy Action Plan Gold Award, encouraging sustainable food and farming. Here is how. Look out for examples as we approach World Food Day on 15 October, including one from Brighton and Hove involving Cllr Emily O’Brien in her day job for B&H food partnership!

Housing retrofit – LGA support programme

Money and support is available for retrofitting council buildings, getting them to be energy efficient. In Europe there is pressure to have mandatory improvement for districts and public buildings. The new LGA  programme to support local authorities is creating housing retrofit skills and jobs in their communities.  We are working in partnership with a consortium, led by Sustainability West Midlands, bringing together the expertise and experience of the Sustainable Housing Action Partnership, Low Carbon Homes and Contented. The deadline to apply to the programme is 6 October.

LGA Net Zero Innovation Programme

The Net Zero Innovation Programme brings together partnerships of researchers and climate change officers from councils across the country, and supports them in tackling the climate emergency. It is now open for applications. Apply now and learn how partnership and co-production skills can help to address climate change and ecological challenges. The partnerships will lead on the creation of a guide or training which can be used by all councils. The deadline for applications is 14 October. Find out more and express interest.

Forget What You Think You Know about…adult social care

This week the LGA launched a new episode in their Forget What You Think You Know podcast series, focused on adult social care. The episode explores what the new reforms from government means for councils, people with lived experience and wider society. Speakers include President of ADASS, Stephen Chandler, Sarah Rennie a wheelchair user who requires 24-hour care, Don Brereton, an unpaid carer for his son Sam and Sarah Pickup, Deputy Chief Executive of the LGA. Make sure you give it a listen, and share with any colleagues who might be interested.

I look forward to seeing you soon in person or at one of the forthcoming events online!

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature

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

Marianne Overton