Group bulletin: 08 July 2022

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

08 July 2022



Comment on changes in Government

I write on the day that the Prime Minister has finally resigned.  Why did it take so long? Apparently being fined for breaking the law is ok but appointing a Mr Pincher to keep MPs in check was a step too far. Is this a really a new turn of events or part of a series, tolerated for too long? How deeply has our democracy and sense of pride on a world stage felt demeaned?

Can those who wide-eyed spoke of his integrity, supporting what has been described as “lies, scandal and fraud on an industrial scale”, now hope to appear as a clean start? Johnson was forgiven for years, so long as he won elections for the Party. It appears to be his diminishing ability to achieve that feat that has emboldened his colleagues to act.

The authoritarian, centralist approach of this Government that diminishes local decision-making has continued throughout; removal of protests and dismantling the very standards that dared to find them wanting. The re-organisation of local government has diminished the number of hands sharing power. Will the drive towards a handful of Mayors be continued? More inclusive democracy of shared cross-party discussion and decision-making is needed now and always.

It’s surely time to replace “strong” leadership in the wrong direction for “good” leadership?  Isn’t it time to do away with a tribalist approach and focus together on the huge issues in hand: climate change, disease, poverty, and war? 

Perhaps it is telling that many of the Cabinet who came forward to resign, including Rishi Sunak MP, came to the LGA annual conference where there was an incredible energy, appetite and evidence of what can be achieved by working collectively.

Highlights from Annual Conference

Thank you to all our colleagues who were able to join us in Harrogate last week for the LGA’s Annual Conference. There were so many great sessions, and it was wonderful to meet so many of you in person after not being able to do so for years.

While it is hard to pick out from such a packed conference, our Group led on the following sessions, the presentations from which will be on our website from this Tuesday:

Debate not Hate

A major emphasis of the conference was good debate with the official launch of the LGA’s Debate not Hate campaign. Many of our Group have been supporting the campaign and taking motions on the issue to their councils. Social media coverage has been under the hashtag #DebateNotHate. Every councillors can sign up to the public statement on Debate not Hate and we have asked for more materials to be made available so councillors can show their support.

I spoke at the conference session on this representing the LGA alongside Kemi Badenoch MP, Jackie Weaver, Chief Officer for Cheshire Association of Local Councils and Ambassador for Compassion in Politics, Liron Velleman, Political Organiser for HOPE Not Hate and chaired by Tim Durrant from Institute for Government.

Civility in Public Life

The Civility in Public Life programme, co-chaired by myself and founded by our Head of Group Office Abigail Gallop, also won an award during annual conference! The LGA won the Civility in Politics Bridge Builders of the Year Award 2022 from the Civility in Politics awards. The judges said they “were hugely impressed by this cross-party initiative from the leaders of different groups in the LGA. In response to rising hostility they worked together to support England's 18,000 councillors and update the code of conduct. This meant working with partners including central Government and the police; to develop new policy research; and to seek legislative change where needed. In particular the nomination highlighted where leaders had used their voice where it was strongest - in their own groups - to challenge behaviour. They are worthy winners.”

Signals for the future of Local Government

We heard a very interesting and powerful perspective from Chief Executive of Ipsos Mori, Ben Page, on Signals of the future for Local Government, future-scanning the issues that we could well be facing shortly in the future. These included what role could local councils play in the green energy transition and what types of support do local entrepreneurs and businesses need to thrive in a high street where footfall might never return to pre-Covid levels?

LGA Independent Group Annual Report

The annual conference was an opportunity to launch our annual report and reflect on all the work that has taken place over the past year. I’d like to thank all our Board Leads for their hard work and all those who represent our Group on the various LGA committees. It was great to hear from Cllr Ian Stephens and Cllr Julian German on their experiences as Board Deputy-Chairs as they step down this year. We have now passed the closing date for Expressions of Interest for the Boards next year and thank you to everyone who has come forward. We will be reviewing these and will get back to you before the new Board cycle begins in September.

Next Generation

This annual conference saw three years of our Next Gen cohorts joining us at annual conference! It was excellent to have so many of you there is person and great to hear from Ed Gemmell at out AGM about his group’s experience and what they had learnt.

The Next Generation programme is an excellent opportunity for councillors who are ambitious to develop themselves as political leaders and be bold champions of local. As well as connecting with other leading colleagues, there are residential training days where you are introduced to “exemplar approaches to local government leadership”.

If you would like to join our 2022/23 Next Generation Cohort, or know someone who you think would be interested, please email

Date for the Annual Independent Group Conference

In what promises to be a lively, informative and exciting event, the Independent Group Annual Conference will be held on Friday 28th October at the LGA offices in London. Make a note in your diary! A link to book will be sent out shortly.

The Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)

This week I joined other local government representatives from the UK on a policy committee ‘retreat’ in Bologna. The CEMR does exactly what the UK associations of local government do – but on a European scale. We had a detailed debate on applying artificial intelligence to climate change, particularly on adaptation. The CEMR has been very high-profile in supporting Ukrainian local government and lead the entire European local govt sector in the initial phase of the conflict.

New Prime Minister

As we wait to see who throws their hat into the ring to become the next Prime Minister, I will be ensuring the LGA and our Group makes know our views and position on key issues such as planning and climate change to new Ministers and candidates.


Hoping you get to enjoy the warm weather ahead for the week whilst of course all keeping safe in the heat! The LGA has produced some Hot weather – information for councils with some advice on helping our communities stay safe and keep cool!

Kind Regards,

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