Group Bulletin: 22 October 2021

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local government association - independent group

Group Bulletin

22 October 2021


Dear Colleagues,

I hope all is well with you. If there is anything we can assist with, please email the office at

District Councils Network (DCN) Annual Conference

Independent Group district council leaders met this week at the well-attended District Councils Network (DCN) Annual Conference to exchange ideas and tackle Government ministers on planning, achieving net zero, levelling up, and local government reorganisation, among other issues.

Net zero

The Government’s new Net Zero Strategy was published this week and is well worth a read. The strategy has been published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and recognises that some 30% of emissions are in council control and 82% of emissions are within local government influence. It also includes a commitment to work with the LGA.

In their previous investigation into net zero in England, the National Audit Office (NAO) pointed out that both a greater pace, and greater clarity of identified responsible bodies, are needed. Funding is fragmented, with three main funds – and 22 others – available to local authorities. The NAO also referenced a lack of clarity over local authorities’ overall roles, piecemeal funding, and diffuse accountabilities. This hampers local authorities’ ability to plan effectively for the long-term, build skills and capacity, and prioritise effort. It creates significant risks to value for money as spending is likely to increase quickly.

At the District Councils Network (DCN) Annual Conference, Councillor Sarah Rouse chaired the Environment Section and our team made significant contributions in the discussion sessions.

Local government reorganisation

Professor Colin Copus presented his report on local government reorganisation to the District Council Network. He was very clear on the uncertainty of any advantages of reorganisation – and he was also concerned by the loss of councillors with the same workload, and the loss of local connection between residents and the decisions made about them. Independent council leaders from Yorkshire and Cumbria were incensed about the imposition of a reduction in local government in their areas.

New Secretary of State

Michael Gove MP spoke at the LGA Councillors Forum this week. It was good to have the opportunity to raise key issues, and it is clear he is reconsidering local government policies. Now is the time to seek support on our key issues. We raised secure funding for adult care, levelling up without reorganisation, local planning, tackling climate change, and civility and respect for councillors – including making our own decisions (such as holding hybrid meetings). Our Independent Group Annual Conference next Friday 29 October will be critical for gathering good practice and key messages to take to Government as ministers reassess the situation.

Supporting refugees

At LGA Board, and Executive, meetings this week, discussion topics included the Government’s approach to housing refugees and asylum seekers and possible solutions. Thanks to Councillors Hannah Dalton and Paul Woodhead for making useful contributions on the whole range of topics.

This weekend I will be attending the Green Party Conference, before our own Independent Group Annual Conference and prize-giving taking place next Friday 29 October.

Shortly, you will see a request asking you to complete a short survey about our group’s engagement with council members and seeking your views on what works best. More on this to follow in the coming weeks.

We also look ahead to the Government Spending Review on Wednesday 27 October, and a new LGA call for evidence on civility launching on Monday.

Many thanks for all your good work. It is especially great to see that a good number of our councillors have been shortlisted for LGiU and CCLA Cllr Awards, recognising their outstanding contributions. Well done to all those who are long- and short-listed, we now look forward to Wednesday 1 December to see who is successful!

Wishing you all the very best and hoping to see many of you next Friday,

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature

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

Portrait photo of Marianne Overton