Group bulletin: 18 February 2022

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

18 February 2022


Greetings colleagues!

Today we have seen Met Office UK weather warnings for Storm Eunice across all of England and Wales, with rare 'red' weather warnings issued for England's South West, South East, and for London. I hope you and your communities have managed to weather the storm. With the onset of climate change, we should expect a greater frequency of extreme weather.

Alongside other LGA group leaders, I will be meeting with Kemi Badenoch MP (Minister of State at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) to look at what’s next for our councils in regards to local government finance. The LGA response to the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement highlighted that the additional funding for adult and children’s social care will not go far enough in addressing the very real existing pressures these vital services face. You will remember that we made the case thoroughly, based on detailed evidence from councils, showing costs and where increased costs are inevitable. I have had a good number of discussions with councillors and our council leaders across the country so far. Your comments are welcome.

Levelling up?

The Government's Levelling Up White Paper has been received with some consternation as it means that a number of our councils as we know them are likely to vanish and that democratic representation will become far less local. We continue to call for devolution of money and powers to our councils as they are, without the need to reorganise, and Professor Colin Copus's report (commissioned by the LGA Independent Group) – ‘The political and governance implications of unitary reorganisation’ – sets out some compelling arguments. The LGA has also launched a Levelling Up Local Enquiry, and is calling for your views.

Independent Group Climate Change Conference | Friday 18 March

Tackling climate change is a continuing big task for us. Our LGA Independent Group Climate Change Conference will take place on Friday 18 March. While we finalise the programme, early-bird registration is open. The conference will focus on practical steps for councils and will be run as a hybrid meeting so you can join in person or virtually. The programme has been developed with representatives from our executive and an interested group of climate scientists I had the pleasure of meeting last week. The conference is building well and I hope you can join us in person or online. Look out, on Tuesday 22 February, for the next episode of the LGA’s podcast ‘Forget What You Think You Know’ on ‘What next after COP26?'

Fire Reform White Paper

The Government white paper on fire reform is due out next week. Chairman of the Fire Services Management Committee at the LGA is Independent Group member – Councillor Ian Stevens of the Isle of Wight – who has been lobbying Government for the best possible outcomes. Building control of fire safety remains a significant issue, despite recent efforts to protect residents from the costs.

Latest on vaccinations

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is now considering the risks of missing school, and isolation, as an aspect of children’s health. The Government published advice for the vaccination of five- to 11-year-olds who are in a clinical risk group or who have a family member who is vulnerable.

Getting elected

As part of this year's Candidate School series of events, the LGA Independent Group is hosting a day of workshops on Thursday 24 February at 18 Smith Square, London. Excellent facilitators Tasneem Siddiqi and Anna Marsden will be covering ‘Presentation and media skills’, ‘Creating compelling campaigns’ and ‘Keeping control of your message’. There are places left, so please do sign up if you are seeking re-election this year or, if you know any prospective candidates that would benefit from the workshops, please share the link with them. For anybody travelling from outside of London, the group office may be able to assist with travel costs if you contact them before booking transport. The deadline to register is 5pm on Monday 21 February.

Selected events that may interest you

Digital self-defence and self-care workshop | Monday 21 February, 1–2pm

ElectHer are hosting an event for women and non-binary people, alongside Glitch, an award-winning UK charity ending online abuse and championing digital citizenship.

Adapting to climate change – engaging with Government on policy implementation | Wednesday 23 February, 10.30am–12pm

The LGA is hosting a webinar, with Defra’s Environmental Strategy Directorate and Local Partnerships, giving councils the opportunity to engage with government officials on the implementation of climate change adaptation policy. You will hear about the work of the Local Adaptation Advisory Panel, the Adaptation Toolkit developed by Local Partnerships and much more.

Levelling up the nation and our communities | Wednesday 23 February 2022, 12–1.15pm

This event is hosted by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC). Speakers:

  • Ailbhe McNabola, Director of Policy and Communications at Power to Change
  • Will Tanner, Director at Onward.

Afghan relocation and resettlement | Thursday 24 February, 9.50–10.45am

This webinar will cover an update on the Afghan resettlement schemes and the vital role councils are playing in making sure that Afghan arrivals receive the support they need to settle and rebuild their lives, find work, pursue education and successfully integrate into local communities. The session will include an opportunity to ask questions about the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) and support for British nationals and their families.

Working together to make communities safer | Wednesday 30 March, 12–1.15pm

This event is hosted by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC). Speakers:

  • Councillor John Gili-Ross, Chair of the National Police Fire and Crime Panel and Vice-Chair of the Essex Association of Local Councils
  • Caroline Henry, Police and Crime Commissioner for Nottinghamshire.

With best wishes,

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature

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

Portrait photo of Councillor Marianne Overton, Leader of the LGA Independent Group