Group bulletin: 1 March 2022

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

1 March 2022


Greetings colleagues,

War in Europe

War in Europe has begun with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. UK sanctions seem puny and ineffective as we watch the people of Ukraine fight to defend their country. The repercussions will be felt across the world, and our communities will need to be braced for how it affects them. Political parties – and the UK as a whole – have to be very cautious about on whose money they depend.

We will see the knock-on effects of war in our communities – with loss of life and limb, refugees, and costs rising as trade ceases and our resources are reduced. We have been advised that our councils and their communities need to ensure their cyber security protocols are all in place and the LGA will continue to offer support in this area via programmes such as The LGA Cyber 360. We know our councils will also be looking with renewed focus at how to roll out energy conservation measures and energy from renewable sources.

The LGA stands in support and solidarity with the Ukrainian people and our local government peers in Ukraine. We call on local and regional governments across Europe to endorse the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)'s statement, which is open for any councillor to sign.


With COVID-19 regulations ending as law last week, it is up to each of us to take on the personal responsibility to avoid spreading the virus and to isolate for at least five days if we are infected. Whether or not this is a political or scientific decision, the LGA will continue to provide online information, support and communications toolkits about COVID-19 vaccinations.

Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Levelling Up Communities, and Equalities

Earlier this week, I was at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities with the other group leaders for a cross-party meeting with Kemi Badenoch, MP who is from Uttlesford, Essex – where the district council is Independent-led. We discussed the reasonable local government financial settlement but highlighted that it does not begin to address the underlying problems of funding adult care in the long term. Once again, we raised the issue that councillors should be able to meet online as appropriate. We also raised concerns that Mr. Gove’s idea of a separate body to assess our performance was duplicating the work that LG Inform – our free data benchmarking tool – already carries out and presents to a much better standard than what the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is offering. I pointed out that the proposal would move us back to the old audit system – a bureaucratic tick-box exercise, annually in arrears, and not linked with improvement. LG Inform is constantly updated, well-presented, and linked to our improvement programmes.

Health and Care Bill and Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs)

Although we have been successful in getting recognition of the importance of local place in the ICPs and keeping local councils at the heart of the new system, we do already have Health and Wellbeing Boards in our councils with pooled budgets for adult care and health. Extending these cross-party, democratically led bodies would have been a logical way to create the ICPs. However, because the NHS Primary Care Trusts were reorganised into boards of their own that are not co-terminus with local government areas, the additional layer of 'Integrated Care Partnerships' is being developed.

Post COP26 housing

Following COP26 and our group think tank discussions, I wrote to the previous minister about forthcoming planning legislation to include removal of the five-year land supply obligations which hamper our ability to negotiate with developers. I also raised the way in which the 10 per cent increase in biodiversity was being abused, where a woodland can be replaced by a bag of wildflower seeds. The response from the new Minister for Housing, Stuart Andrew MP, is in support of woodlands generally, but also very much about overcoming barriers to build more, and faster. I asked about grants for energy efficiency and the foolishness of building new homes that immediately need retrofitting. He felt that new dwellings compliant with the 2021 standards would be 'zero carbon ready'. Please let me know your views.

Reforming the Mental Health Act white paper

The LGA is lobbying to influence the drafting of the Reforming the Mental Health Act white paper and the Community Wellbeing Board has raised the issue of more funding being required to match the aspirations laid out in the white paper.

East Midlands and East of England regional meeting

Friday 4 March, 11am–4pm | Lincoln Cathedral Centre, Cantilupe Chantry South, 16 Minster Yard, Lincoln LN2 1PX
Join other councillors from the East Midlands and East of England to discuss recovery post-COVID, saving the planet, and how to get re-elected. Following the meeting, we will be attending a reception at the 'Gaia' exhibition at The Collection (1 Danes Terrace, Lincoln LN2 1LP).

Register to attend the East Midlands and East of England regional meeting

Independent Group Climate Change Conference

Friday 18 March, 10.15am–3.45pm | 18 Smith Square, London SW1P 3HZ 
We are very excited to confirm that we have a wealth of great speakers lined up for the LGA Independent Group Climate Conference. Speakers include:

  • Baroness Brown of Cambridge
  • Sophie Howes (Future Generation Commissioner, Wales)
  • Paul Behrens (Assistant Professor, Leiden University)
  • Emma Osmundsen (Managing Director, Exeter City Living)
  • and speakers from Climate Emergency UK, Climate Futures and One Planet.

Register to attend our Independent Group Climate Change Conference

Wishing you all the very best in all that you are doing,

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