Group bulletin: 16 December 2022

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

16 December 2022


Season’s Greetings Colleagues!

Like me, you may have just had your last Council meeting before Christmas and are getting ready for a relaxing time and a chance to see family and friends. I wish you a very happy Christmas break and a successful 2023. It’s an election year for many of us, which means we will all be pretty busy finding and connecting well with candidates and residents. We will be running quite a lot of support for you, working with the Independent Network, Green Party and Plaid Cymru. Retaining and supporting our current Councillors is also as vital as ever.

In support of our councillors, we have a network of over thirty “accredited peers”, experienced councillors with extra training. We also have regional peers covering the nine regions of England and Wales and including our political groups. The Lead Peer co-ordinates this significant work to help our councillors and councils do the best job they can. The Lead Peer position is going through an appointment process now, ready for September.

South West Regional Peer - NOW OPEN for applications

The LGA Independent Group is looking to appoint a South West regional lead peer - applicants need to be an accredited peer, having undertaken at least 2 peer challenges and from the South West Region. For further information and how to apply, head over to our website homepage

Deadline for submissions are Friday 30th December with interviews taking place in the New Year.

New Minister, Lee Rowley

I had three meetings this week with our new Minister for Local Government Lee Rowley, including a one to one. He is in listening mode and I pressed the points of Local Government Finance, levelling up bill including keeping planning local, and tackling Climate change and its impacts, especially long-term, flexible grants for making homes energy efficient.

Thanks to our members on the Innovation and Improvement Board which I joined as a guest. Our members successfully pressed our group’s views with their board, focussing on good Governance, including funding and sustainability and cyber security. They are pressing the LGA to provide more work on supporting our councils’ economic strength with useful training on finance at Warwick, a round table with a blog, 50 case studies on our website and some grant funding. Tamworth Borough Council gave a great presentation of how they had used their grant to revitalise their town centre.

Join the Roundtable on Healthy High Streets!

How do you design healthy High Streets that link health and the economy? The LGA’s Improvement Team will be hosting roundtable to explore the answer. It is just an hour and a half long and will take place toward the end of January. The roundtable will be hosted virtually, with up to 30 council officers with a responsibility for economic growth and development.

Due to the limited places available for this event we ask that no more than 1 officer from each council attend. Sign up by completing our application form.

New Legislation: Voter ID and Planning

I had two TV interviews set up this week, one on the requirement of photo ID for voters in less than six months, going through parliament on Monday and the Lords on Tuesday. Another was on the government’s change of planning guidance on wind turbines. Both are live topics about which you may like to contact your local press if you haven’t already been onto it!

Thanks to Council Leaders who joined the meetings online on Monday and Wednesday. On Monday we discussed the complications of Voter photo ID in the time available, and the changes that are needed, including a polling station review as voting takes longer and unveiling may be needed. I did raise your points at the Board. We did get a change in that all political groups agreed the timescale was too short, but the Government will be coming back to us on the practicalities. I also raised your points on funding and asylum seekers being placed in our areas without proper provision. In meetings with Councils that are led by our group members, we are looking to understand local situations and ensure councillors know what more the LGA can provide.

LGA Annual Conference 2023

What do you want on the Agenda in the Annual Conference in Bournemouth on 4 – 6th July 2023 ? Who do you think is a cracking speaker? We aim to get the best in Britain on any subject. Please let us know to help us make this the best conference ever! Additionally, anyone wanting to contribute, speaking on a project demonstrating  “Challenge and change” in the innovation zone should write a paragraph to explain their project and send it to the Independent Group office

Examples of topics for sessions from last year include: Cost of Living, Planning, Levelling-up, Modern Slavery, High Streets, Funding, Debate not Hate, Equalities. Please do send any ideas and/or suggestions for consideration to the group office email address soonest.

Reducing indoor air Pollution- New report

The Chief Medical Officer outlines progress with outdoor and measures indoor polluting sources, hardly yet considered, though we spend 80% of our time indoors. Indoor air pollution is becoming an increasing proportion of the problem. As with outdoor spaces, people in public buildings are exposed to air pollution but can do little about it, so action is needed. This is a useful set of data that inspires some action.

Is Climate change affecting your council services?

All council service areas will have been impacted by the weather extremes experienced this year. In the future, communities will face additional risks from extreme heat and drought to flooding and storms, infrastructure damage, disease and economic damage, and more. The LGA and Local Partnerships are conducting a survey to help shape future policy and support around climate change adaptation. We seek all views and welcome multiple responses from each local authority. Please share this link with colleagues across your organisation.It will take just 15 to 20 minutes to complete, although there are no mandatory questions. The deadline is 5pm on 20 December. Contact:

Got any good officers ready to be part of the NGDP in 2023?

The National Graduate Development Programme (NGDP) is the LGA’s flagship graduate scheme, developing new talent in local government for over 20 years. Every year, thousands of bright, motivated graduates apply to the NGDP to fast track their career in local government. We run a subsidised, rigorous national recruitment process to place high calibre graduates in councils across the country. Find out how the NGDP could help your council to build capacity and develop future leaders of your workforce - visit or get in touch with the team at


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 to 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.

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

Booking is now open 


Best wishes for a Happy Christmas and lets make 2023 another successful electoral year. It’s looking good for our members!

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