Group bulletin: “Greetings Colleagues!

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

13 December 2022


“Greetings Colleagues!

I hope you are coping with the cold and doubtless helping others as always. Our local warm hubs are coming into their own and we are intent on keeping the homeless off the streets wherever we can.

Lobbying on your behalf

Thanks to lead members who were able to attend the  LGA’s Parliamentary reception in the House of Lords last week. We raised the profile of your good work over the past year and our work in our communities.  Lee Rowley MP, the Minister of State for Local Government and Building Safety and also former member of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee thanked councillors for your important work improving lives locally.  LGA Vice President, Florence Eshalomi MP, and LGA Independent President Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson spoke well. They focussed on our work to ensure the country “emerges from the current financial situation stronger, more productive and with power properly transferred from Whitehall into hands of those who know and can deliver for their local communities best”. Michael Gove appeared briefly and was immediately surrounded by our members driving home our key points - well done and thank you.


In the House of Lords, we launched the ‘Debate not Hatecampaign toolkit from the task group that was headed up by Cllr Pandora and I. Please take a look at the toolkit which should be useful for heading off antagonism with an “asset” of five rules of engagement which you can pin to the top of your social media as well as a sets of other useful resources. 

I was in Paris over two days this week in a cross-party delegation. I opened the debate on civility outlining the good work done by the LGA and listening to colleagues across the whole of Europe with similar concerns. We launched a new equality charter, following a magnificent piece of work. The Council of European Municipalities and Regions do a huge amount of work we can draw upon.

Shaping LGA Policy

We had our own LGA Board and Executive Advisory Board Meetings this week. Contentious items included the Photo ID required for voting as soon as May, which may be a useful question for you at Council. The Government have leaked some of the budget ideas but not in public until Dec 21st.

I met this week with members of the House of Lords, who do a brilliant job for us, and will be debating photo ID, planning, housing and finance for local government. We are giving them timely briefings and they have kindly agreed to put forward useful amendments

Peer Assessment of the LGA

Also this week was the Corporate Peer Assessment done by an external panel on ourselves, as the Local Government association. After 180 interviews in 65 meetings, they produced their verbal report pointing out where we do well and where we might like to do more. The full report will be coming out soon. Thank you to colleagues who gave me suggestions which I was able to incorporate.

Culture and Tourism

I was pleased to attend the launch of the report from the Culture and Tourism Board on Thursday with a conference chaired by Baroness Lola Young, an actress and author who you may remember from our Annual Conference Dinner in Harrogate last year. It was very well attended and a great piece of work, thanks to our members who have played a key roles on that board.

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.

LGA ‘Be a Councillor’ Campaign Update

The public campaign to attract more people into politics and standing for local government goes on. Just recently, we had two online zoom events with ‘Elect Her’ aimed at increasing female representation and also, ‘Shout Out UK’ took place in-person, for young people interested in standing for election. Both events were attended by current Councillors, sharing their experiences and expertise in local politics and answering questions. As the New Year approaches, we shall be having more events scheduled and with LGBT+ month in February, the campaign are keen to reach out to Councillors ahead of this. Moreover, the team are also eager to share the experiences of being a Councillor through a series of case studies, short films and/or video clips as well as written contributions in LGA’s membership magazine, First. If you wish to contribute in any way to these projects or are interested in finding out how the campaign can bring awareness to your local area, please contact the Independent Group Office or email the campaign directly

Commission on Culture and Local Government Final Report launched!

I attended the official launch on Thursday 8th December, attended by Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey. This publication is the final report of the Commission on Culture and Local Government, exploring the contribution of local culture, the barriers it faces and the four cornerstones that are essential to a healthy local cultural ecosystem. Do take a read!

U-turn by Michael Gove on Housing Targets

The recent U-turn by Secretary of State Michael Gove MP on mandatory housing targets was welcome news. I have long argued that Councils and Communities are best placed to decide how to build the right homes in the right places in their local areas. Forcing an arbitrary figure of 300,000 homes, per year, on our communities is damaging, particularly as it comes without the appropriate services and facilities. Fundamentally, it does not tackle the big problems and throws up others, for example, the set of planning proposals:

  1. Removes the five year land supply but sets a compulsory figure of new dwellings.
  2. Sets a non-negotiable infrastructure levy, but keeps the viability test, so councils have to accept less affordable housing, education or other contributions.
  3. Agrees to redistribute housing target numbers, but keeps the overall 300,000 new dwellings which is too high. Does nothing to make developers build house types according to local need.
  4. Does nothing about land-banking which puts a coach and gorses through our local plans making it ineffective, so then developers win appeals and are allowed to build more or less anywhere.
  5. Creates a “stick” to beat councils with – the commissioners who take over planning from Councils (as currently in Uttlesford)
  6. Seeks to encourage biodiversity net gain, but not until 2023 and interpretation allows a mature woodland to be replaced by temporary wildflower seeds or paying a local trust to maintain something, i.e. do what they planned to do anyway, with no improvement on the ground.
  7. Does nothing to change building regulations to ensure retrofitting is not immediately needed.
  8. Is simplifying, but only by giving more national control, rather than local. Inspectors should not be routinely over-turning local decisions.
  9. Allows street votes where neighbours act as a planning committee without the proper training or controls, which is insulting and dangerous.
  10. Allows more permitted development rights (offices to dwellings), which takes the strategic planning out of our towns and villages, and further undermines shopping areas and High Streets.


Colleagues, I have argued at LGA Board level that we are not tough enough on the planning proposals and have raised them up the agenda in the LGA Policy.

The State of the State 2022-23

This report from Deloitte and Reform is the 11th annual snapshot of what’s happening across government and public services. It finds that public attitudes to government have been deeply affected by the economic situation, and that public leaders are eager for reform after years of responding to crises.

Gove appears before Levelling Up Committee

Appearing before the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, the Secretary of State announced he was commissioning a review of the council tax system, looking to simplify local government finance, and said that investment zone bids would still be looked at and that council time had not been wasted.

Plant a Tree in honour of her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Following the wishes of its Patron, His Majesty The King, The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) initiative will be extended to the end of March 2023 to give people the opportunity to plant trees in memoriam to honour Her Majesty. As part of the national tree planting initiative in Her Majesty’s name, funding of £499,000 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will be provided for a special programme of planting to be delivered by QGC Partners including Trees for Cities, The Tree Council, The Conservation Volunteers and Earthwatch. To find out more and get involved, visit the website

Preparing for our Changing Climate: Capturing Local Government’s views on Local Climate Adaptation

All council service areas will have been impacted by the weather extremes experienced this year. This LGA and Local Partnership survey provides an opportunity to inform future policy and support around climate change adaptation, including the LGA’s work with government on this increasingly important issue.

Please submit your responses by Tuesday 20 December. If you have any questions, please contact:

New 24/7 support service for victims of rape launched

Victims of rape across England and Wales will have access to round-the-clock support as a new 24/7 Support Line is launched. Specialist operators – available via telephone or webchat – will be on hand at any time to provide victims with vital information and emotional support. The support line has been launched in time for the festive season when reports of sexual violence are known to increase. For further information please visit the website or call 0808 500 2222


LGA Local Government Finance Conference 2023(in-person event)

Tuesday 10 January 2023, London

The LGA’s Local Government Finance Conference will focus on the 2023/24 provisional local government finance settlement, look at the longer-term outlook for local government in the current economic climate; as well as cover issues raised in this Autumn’s fiscal events.

DCN Annual Conference - Booking open!

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

LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2023 (in-person event) Tuesday 4 – Thursday 6 July 2023 | Bournemouth
Join us in Bournemouth for the biggest event in the local government calendar, where we’ll be discussing the latest issues affecting local government. LGA members can take advantage of early bird rates.

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