Group bulletin: 06 December 2022

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

06 December 2022


Greetings Colleagues!

It has been an exciting week! The LGA Independent Team were out in force running our second successful ‘Next Generation’ weekend for aspiring and talented Councillors. The event took place at Warwick Business School where the focus was on ‘Personal Leadership and Communications’. We heard from Darren Caveney, on the importance of social media in Politics and Campaigning and how to use it effectively. We were grateful, also, to have Actress, Alison Skilbeck, from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) who took us through a riveting session on ‘Communicating with Confidence’, culminating in Councillors learning about the importance of breath, presence and how to perform confidently when delivering a speech.

The number of Councils where our group has taken the leadership has grown from three to 35 and climbing! Our members are often the trusted negotiators with key roles in creating and holding members together. To find out more, we had the pleasure of hearing from Councillors Craig Browne, Johnny Denis, Gillian Ford and Jim Hakewill, all of whom shared their insights and advice on how to work effectively to form a group, and to work with other political parties. The event was thoroughly enjoyed by all in attendance and we look forward to the third module in the New Year! To sign up for next year, just let the office know.

In the meantime, many of our members are attending the excellent LGA Leadership Academy, Finance and Leadership courses.

Another by-election win!

Huge congratulations to new Green Party councillor, Ash Lever, winning the Beccles by-election recently, with 2,114 votes! He will be joining eight other Suffolk County Council Green Party Councillors, including Cllr Caroline Topping in the same ward. Well done once again for such hard work and for topping the poll! Welcome to the Independent family!

New ‘Debate not hate’ Campaign Toolkit launched!

I co-chaired the Civility in Public Life Steering Group. We ran a survey of councillors and identified that 7/10 councillors have suffered abuse in their role as a councillor.  We launched the Debate Not Hate campaign at the annual conference.

This week in the House of Lords, we launched the toolkit which provides a range of digital and physical resources for you to use, including a note to pin to the top of your social media pages. You may find useful the template letter to MP’s, press release and model motion.

Abuse of councillors or officers is unacceptable and silences the voices of democratically elected leaders and the residents they represent. It is vital that we come together and push for secure action to protect current councillors and ensure prospective councillors feel safe to stand for election. Thank you for your ongoing support of this campaign. If you have examples, please continue to send them to us and copy to:

LGA Independent National Lead Peer applications now open

The Independent Group Office is currently welcoming applications for a suitable replacement to fill the role of National Lead Peer for the LGA Independent Group. The LGA’s mission is to support, promote and improve local government. The LGA’s Peer Programme is a critical part of the Association’s work on sector-led improvement and innovation. It falls into four categories:

  • Peer challenge (each local authority is entitled to one free corporate peer challenge every three years)
  • Mentoring
  • Bespoke work with council political groups and top teams
  • Internal LGA activity - for example supporting the Leadership Academy.

Along with the LGA Improvement and Innovation Board, Lead Member Peers lead our improvement work from a political perspective, working closely with their respective Group Office.

National Lead Member Peers: accountabilities

  • To ensure that the LGA’s improvement programme reflects political priorities.
  • To work closely with the relevant LGA Group Leader, Group Office, Regional Peers and Principal Adviser to ensure effective management, deployment and development of the peer pool and of individual member peers.
  • To work with the Regional Lead Peers to gather intelligence and understand the political and other issues affecting the performance of individual councils.
  • To develop and maintain networks and channels of communication with council leaders, council group leaders and local government bodies.
  • To identify innovation and best practice that can be shared across the sector.
  • To work with the relevant Group Improvement and Innovation mechanism and Principal Advisers to ensure that intelligence and best practice from councils drives improvement across local government.
  • To work direct with those councils perceived to be most at risk in conjunction with the relevant Principal Adviser.
  • To contribute to the development of the LGA's improvement products and services and to help promote them to local authorities.
  • To encourage councils in membership to undertake a peer challenge. 

Travel and expenses

  • The roles will require attendance at meetings in London and travel across the country.
  • Reasonable travel and subsistence costs incurred by the Lead Peers in the discharge of their duties will be paid by the LGA.


  • £334 per day (for a pre-agreed number of days allocated by the LGA in advance)
  • Expected time commitment: Variable

If this is something you would be interested in doing, then we encourage you to fill out the National Lead Peer Application Form, which can be found on the homepage of the LGA Independent Group website. To be eligible for the role, you have to be an LGA Member Peer already; and we are happy to accept applications from existing regional peers and also those who are not currently regional lead peers. However, we advise that as National Lead Peer, you cannot hold another paid position on an LGA Board, for example, being a member or leader of an LGA policy board. If this is the case, then you will need to step down in order to fulfil your role as National Lead Peer.   

Submission deadline for National Lead Peer Applications is Friday 9 December with interviews taking place in January 2023. Don’t delay!

24 Ways not to Waste this Christmas!

This Christmas, the Environment Agency is sharing 24 simple steps that we can all take to make more sustainable choices

Women’s leadership mentoring programme from Nepal

You may like to be part of a new women’s leadership mentoring programme set up by Government over 2022-23. You will be mentored by a female ambassador based in Kathmandu, to help enhance their leadership skills. We particularly welcome applications from women belonging to minority / marginalised communities. You can find out more information and how to apply on their website.

Not an LGA Member Peer already?

Don’t forget the LGA Mentoring programme, which you can ask your council for support, or work with our accredited regional “peers”.  It works best if you are proactive, make time for planning and reflecting, take part in discussions on agreed themes and for networking. You can also apply to be a Member Peer as well! Please email us at the LGA Independent Group Office: for more information and/or an application form.

Chartered Institute of Housing – Cost of Living Crisis Reports

The Chartered Institute of Housing has produced a series of briefings examining the ongoing impact and effect the Cost of Living crisis is having on different sectors of society: Social Housing Tenants, Energy prices, Benefits and Disability and this month covers Children and Families. Their aim in creating this cost of living briefing series is to provide a succinct, insightful summary of the latest research and statistics alongside resident voice and sector response. I think you will find them useful.

London’s contribution in the UK – Centre for London research Report

The Centre for London independent think tank has published a report entitled ‘London’s contribution in the UK’, not wanting to lose out under “levelling up”.

LOTI fund launched to support innovation in social care

The London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) has announced an innovation fund of £200,000 to support London boroughs design and test new approaches to improving adult social care. The fund, which will provide up to £100,000 to two projects, is open to submissions from the 24 London boroughs who are LOTI members. Project submissions will need to address one or more of the themes of: better residential and care homes; better care at home; better community support models. The fund is open to submissions until 9th January 2023. More information and expression of interest forms are available on the LOTI website.


Budget setting online workshop for Independents and affiliated Members

Friday 13 January, 11.00am – 1.00pm

It’s a challenging time for local government with a decade of reductions in funding and rising demand, along with the impact of COVID-19 adding pressure to council finances. How better to discuss and prepare for council budget setting than by joining our virtual workshop on Budget setting and effective challenge on Friday 13 January, 11.00am–1.00pm.This timely seminar follows the Government’s Autumn Statement 2022: LGA briefing and pre-empts your council budget meetings. We will have a member of the LGA’s Finance team providing an update on what the autumn statement means and councillors Phélim Mac Cafferty and Gillian Ford offering top tips for setting and challenging council budgets, relevant for those in administration and opposition.

Our group workshops are free, interactive training sessions which give you the opportunity to ask questions and contribute to discussions based on your local experience. If you would like to attend, please email LGA Independent Group colleagues at who will send you the Zoom meeting link.

Delivering custom and self-build homes (virtual webinar)

Wednesday 25 January 2023, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Custom and self-build homes can play a key role in contributing to net supply while providing a host of other benefits. This event will enable delegates to find out more about how councils are working to make custom and self-build homes accessible to more people, as well as hearing from self-builders themselves.

DCN Annual Conference 23-24 February 2023

We’re delighted to announce that the DCN Annual Conference is back in February 2023 and booking is now open. We’re also moving to a new location: the beautiful Sopwell House near St. Alban’s, Hertfordshire and we’re looking forward to seeing you at this fantastic venue.

As with previous conferences, delegates will have the chance to engage with high-profile speakers, including government ministers and MPs across the political spectrum, local government partners, leaders from the private sector and other walks of life. There’ll also be interactive sessions showcasing best practice and innovation in service delivery, and championing the work of DCN member councils. This will be a brilliant chance to meet others in our network and across local government, and to discuss current issues with officers, elected members, leading thinkers and inspirational speakers.

We will be sending further updates on our speaker programme as it develops. Confirmed speakers currently include: Professor Tony Travers, Helen Barnard (Associate Director, Joseph Rowntree Foundation), Adam Hawksbee (Director, Onward), Professor Colin Copus, Barry Quirk (formerly Chief Executive of Kensington & Chelsea Borough Council) and Jackie Weaver.

Booking is now open - please register online here

Useful information:

Cost: £459 + VAT per delegate including accommodation at the venue and all meals for the duration of the conference.

Accommodation at the venue is limited and we’re therefore offering on a ‘first come first serve’ basis. Please book now to secure your place, at what is sure to be a popular event. As a result this year we’re offering an off-site option at a reduced cost: £399 + VAT.

This will be at the St. Alban’s City Centre Premier Inn in the heart of the historic city close to the amenities of St. Alban’s. This option will see a regular shuttle bus to and from the conference venue, and still includes all meals for the duration, including lunches and dinner at Sopwell House.

Registration time (and lunch): 12:00 on 23rd February
Start time: 13:00 on 23rd February
Finish time: 14:00 on 24th February

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