Group bulletin: 9 November 2021

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

9 November 2021


Greetings colleagues,

We’ve had a busy start to the month with our Independent Group Annual Conference leading into COP26 (the United Nations Climate Change Conference), the LGA Member Peers Annual Conference, and the Independent Group's Candidate School programme which begins today.

Independent Group Annual Conference

Huge thanks to all who managed to attend our annual conference. It was the best-attended ever, with a full hall and many more councillors online – our first hybrid annual conference. View the slide presentations from the day and some useful links

I opened the conference and outlined successes of our growing group of over 2,900 councillors. The President of the LGA, paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who represents us in the House of Lords, assisted us with important changes in legislation. LGA Chairman James Jamieson outlined the corporate plan, setting out our asks of Government to help us “build back local”. Crossbencher Lord Victor Adebowale took an 'independent' look at the future of local government and challenged councils to do things differently.

In discussing impending changes to planning legislation, our members were very clear about the importance of local councils having control over planning rather than it becoming a centralised tick box exercise. They were also concerned about the unfair approach to housing numbers, an issue I later took to the Secretary of State, Michael Gove. It seems that the Government still has the priority of getting 300,000 dwellings built every year, which is probably an impossible task if we are also to keep to our trajectory of reaching net zero by 2050 and staying under a 1.5-degree increase in global temperature.

We had a very engaging discussion on what councils can do to address violence against women and girls, alongside the police and the third sector. Councillors Patricia Patterson-Vanegus and Julian German closed the main part of our conference with the theory and practice of doughnut economics, as a way to ensure that decisions are made holistically and by balancing all the competing pressures. Thank you to all our Chairs: Councillors Hannah Dalton, Emily O'Brien, Patricia Patterson-Vanegus and Rosemary Harris, and all the speakers for superb presentations.

Independent Group awards

Thank you for your many nominations for our awards. Nominees and winners were announced at our annual conference. The awards celebrate community activism, group and council leadership, and contributions to the wider work of the LGA. Huge congratulations to Councillor Phelim MacCafferty, winner of our most prestigious award, the Clarence Barret Award, which is awarded in memory of former key member of the group Councillor Clarence Barrett.

LGA Member Peers Annual Conference

Our accredited peers gathered this week for the annual conference for LGA member peers. Discussions were held on climate change, the impact of the pandemic, and the future of sector-led support. Our peers are there to provide support to you on queries that arise within your councils and groups. Do get in touch if they can provide any advice.

COP26 – the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference

At COP26 for both weeks I have been working on sharing good practice, driving ambition, and helping to shape the final agreement – to put local government more at the heart of the solutions. The demonstrations have been tremendous with thousands of school children in Glasgow being given the day off to join the protest marches and hear Greta Thunberg speak. A number of our members have attended which will give us a real boost in the months to come.

Attending COP26 is an incredible experience, with great vibrancy and drive to find ways to better protect the nature of our planet, to reduce our impact on the environment, and to adapt to the increasing frequency and severity of extremes that we now expect. The sixth assessment report from the United Nations International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) was powerfully presented by the scientists. There is still a gap between what is needed and the sum total of promises from all the nations, making the possibility of staying under a 1.5-degree rise in temperature increasingly likely.

Myself and other LGA leaders are speaking at a COP26 event tomorrow (Wednesday 10 November) at 10am. The session is open to everyone online. Later tomorrow (at 4pm) a session on moving further and faster to net zero is available to those who register via the Local Government and Municipal Authorities Constituency (LGMA).

Independent Group member survey – Autumn 2021

Our member survey is live until the end of this week. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete and will provide us with vital feedback. Tell us what you like about the support we provide, what we should change, and what we can do more of.

LGA support for culture

In partnership with Arts Council England, the LGA is offering two fully-funded online programmes for culture and library services, as follows:

Leadership essentials (culture) | 15 November–1 December (online)

Twenty councillors with the portfolio or responsibility for culture will hear inspiring case studies from councillors and external speakers. They will have the opportunity to share best practice, network, and hear topical updates from the LGA and Arts Council England. For more information, and to express an interest in the programme, please email

Peer challenges for culture and library services | November 2021–March 2022

Councils have the opportunity to investigate and test new and existing practice, strategy and thinking, via a fully-funded 1.5-day online culture, or library, peer challenge. The LGA will work with each council to identify the brief and the questions to be considered, and to agree a panel of peer officers and councillors. The panel will speak to key stakeholders to identify areas of excellence and opportunities for development. This is a supportive process that is designed to help inform councils’ planning and strategies. Councils taking part will receive a report at the end of the challenge. There are seven library peer challenges and three culture peer challenges available. For more information email

Climate change survey 2021 – deadline Friday 19 November

The LGA is currently seeking responses to its 2021 local authority climate change survey, The results of the survey will be used to celebrate the climate action being taken by councils and to better support future climate action. Each local authority is invited to provide a collective response and has been assigned its own unique link to the survey. These links have been emailed to climate change contacts in each local authority. If your council has not received its unique link, please email to request it. The deadline for taking part is 5pm on Friday 19 November. Many thanks in advance for participating in this important project.

LGA State of the Nation Survey of Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) – deadline Thursday 18 November

The experience, learning, and good practice, of HWBs as leaders of place will contribute significantly to shaping governance and ways of working in the new systems architecture. The LGA is undertaking a key survey of HWBs to hear views on the effectiveness of relationships and partnership-working, and on the standing of your HWB within the integrated care system (ICS). We are receiving helpful feedback from HWBs who have responded to the survey and want to hear from those who have yet to respond. Please complete the survey! Receiving this information will ensure that our discussions with Government, and with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI), reflect the experience and learning of HWBs and inform and improve our support offer to system and place leaders. We plan to discuss emerging findings at the National Children and Adults Services Conference in November. The survey will close on Thursday 18 November.

Cyber security leadership training

The COVID-19 crisis has been a catalyst for digital innovation within local government. However, this comes with an increased cyber risk which, if realised, may not only cost councils millions but could also result in the sensitive data of thousands of our most vulnerable residents being sold on the dark web. The LGA's Cyber Security programme is providing grant funding for a cohort of leaders, deputy leaders, cabinet members and those responsible for scrutinising IT or safety and resilience, to improve their understanding of cyber security. The funding should be used to enrol on a university-led course for leaders: for example, the Oxford Cyber Security for Business Leaders Programme – for which an exclusive LGA member price is offered. We’re currently taking expressions of interest from those wanting to enhance their understanding of cyber risk to enable better strategic decision-making for a cyber-resilient future. Places are limited. Please submit expressions of interest to with details of your role.

Housing Advisers Programme 2021/22

There are only two weeks left to apply to the LGA's Housing Advisers Programme for 2021/22. The programme is designed to support councils that are seeking to innovate in meeting the housing needs of their communities. Councils can apply for up to £20,000 from the programme for their housing projects with the purpose of securing expert advice in transforming how a service or partnership meets the housing needs of communities. Applications for this year's programme closes at 5pm on Monday 15 November. If you have any queries please email

All the best to you in all you do,

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