Group bulletin: 09 January 2023

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

09 January 2023

Portrait photo of Councillor Marianne Overton, Leader of the LGA Independent Group

Leader of the LGA Independent Group

Councillor Marianne Overton MBE
Vice-Chairman of the Local Government Association  
Lincolnshire County Council and North Kesteven District Council 

Group Leader’s Year in Review 2022

It has been another incredibly challenging year for local government, the country, and the world. Our Independent Group members have worked solidly in our communities, our councils, and through the LGA, working with ministers, to improve what we can do at a local level.  

Independent Group Annual Conference 2022

We held another extremely successful one-day conference in October at the LGA HQ in Westminster. It was pleasing to see so many of you in person and hear from such distinguished speakers, including Lord Richard Best OBE DL, Professor Tony Travers of the London School of Economics, Vicky Pryce, Kate Ogden and Baroness Natalie Bennett. We are clearly moving from strength to strength.

LGA Member Peer Conference 2022 

It was wonderful to join our lively and effective Independent Peers at the LGA Member Peer Conference in Sheffield. The conference was a great opportunity to hear about some of the important peer work the LGA does for councils; sharing best practice and cost saving initiatives, as well as improving performance within local Government. Our group had an excellent turnout, making a vibrant and impactful presence on the conference. We are a growing team, so it was the first time some of our councillor peers had attended a Member Peer Conference, understanding the responsibilities involved when going out on their first peer review.  

Think Tanks and Policy Boards

Thank you to all Independent Councillors and affiliated members for contributing to our ‘Think Tanks’ and giving an independent voice and perspective on the LGA Policy Boards. Your contributions have helped shape LGA cross-party policy and made us stronger in our representations to the UK Government. I also pay tribute to those on the LGA ‘Think Tanks’ which provide a robust forum for discussion and debate as well as a useful ‘discovery channel’ for new ideas in aiding LGA policy development but more importantly, solutions for some of the most pressing problems Councils face.


Whilst Putin’s devastating attack on Ukraine continues to wreak havoc on innocent civilians and infrastructure, the United Kingdom continues to bravely step up to the challenge and welcome those fleeing from persecution and violence. I met in weekly meetings with the minister, Lord Harrington and his staff, and together tackled many of the hurdles our Council Leaders and members raised with me. Councils are on the frontline, welcoming refugee families and ensuring they settle safely here in the UK. I would like to thank our Councils and Councillors for doing so much to alleviate the pain and suffering, so far away from friends and family. This is in addition to supporting the arrivals from Afghanistan, fleeing the Taliban, now allied forces have left. Let us hope that this new year can see an enduring peace for all.

Fuel Famine

We are now facing the challenge of considerable increases in the cost of living. Energy costs are at record levels, food prices rising and inflation levels, are currently over 10%. Our Councillors are supporting residents to cope with this rise in costs and are grappling with the challenge of rising costs within their own councils. There is a useful ‘Cost of Living’ page on the Government website which provides useful help and support to your residents. This includes income and disability benefits, bills and allowances, childcare, housing and travel.

Our Independent Group continue to demand greater investment in insulation, energy efficiency and renewables to protect our residents from these price shocks. We should be focused on using less energy, derived from sustainable sources, rather than handing out money to residents struggling to heat and power their homes because the money simply flies out the windows, doors and walls. The ‘Energy Price Guarantee’ which came into effect on 1st October 2022 will end on 31st March 2023, with many businesses teetering on the brink. It is vital that we support our local businesses and many of our members and Councils support “Shop Local” Campaigns, provide business and marketing support and improved High Streets.

Changes in Government

Building working relationships with the Government has been interrupted this year, a year of ‘three prime ministers’. Boris Johnson left in disgrace when most of his Cabinet resigned, including a string of Ministers. Liz Truss soon followed, getting elected by just 0.2% of the electorate. She implemented party policy in a raft of tax cuts to promote “growth, growth, growth”. As we know it ended in disaster in just 45 days. Now we have Rishi Sunak. With core party policies shown to be so disastrous, he has a tough balancing act. The LGA Independent Group will continue to work hard to improve local funding and legislation, particularly in regards to the recent Local Government Financial settlement, planning, ‘levelling-up’, local government re-organisation and green energy.

HM Queen Elizabeth II

The Country united in respect and sorrow at the passing of our late Queen Elizabeth II. I paid my respects to see Her Majesty lying-in-state in Westminster Hall and laid flowers in the memorial garden of Hyde Park, on behalf of the LGA Independent Group. We now have King Charles III whose coronation will take place on Saturday 6th May, just after the Parish and District Council elections on May 4th. It will certainly be a historic occasion, our first coronation since 1953 and a time where we can organise events and help strengthen our communities.

Independent Group Council Leaders 

We have a growing group of some 35 Councils, led by Independent Group members and many with effective opposition leaders. I have introduced fortnightly and one-to-one meetings with our Council Leaders to ensure we are effective in tackling the right issues for your Councils and Councillors. It was useful to hear from Leaders in Castlepoint, Redcar & Cleveland, Stroud, Swale and Wrexham. I know how hard you are all working in the face of more financial cuts, and with no end in sight. Some of you will be making very tough decisions affecting the lives of our residents and our communities. In response, we have produced an LGA ‘Cost of Living’ hub where you can share best practice and get advice and support for vulnerable residents. I look forward to further meetings already scheduled with some of our other Independent Council Leaders throughout this new year. All are invited.

COP 27 

It was a joy to showcase your work in my talks, speaking at the recent COP27 Climate Change Conference at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt. A full report on my work was given. I met with government ministers, activists and community leaders, arguing the case for net zero by 2030 and stressing the importance of local Government being at the forefront of climate action.

Next Generation Conference 

Last year, we held two modules of our Next Generation programme at Warwick, which focussed on personal leadership, political leadership, communication and media skills. It is our ninth cohort and all participants are either newly elected Councillors or Councillors wanting to do more in local Government. We also supported leading members to attend the Leadership Essentials Academy as well as take up other development opportunities offered. 


We have also focussed this year on civility in public office, and on the safety of elected members and their families. As co-chair of the LGA’s Civility in Public Life Steering Group, I work with the LGA on promoting the safety of all councillors and that we need to ‘debate not hate’ to maintain democracy.

Election Success

We continue to give strong support to our candidates and councillors, and the results are impressive. In May, we gained, winning 837 Independent Group councillors (511 Independent or Residents Association, 202 Plaid Cymru, and 124 Green Party). This brings the total number of councillors supported by the LGA Independent Group to 3064, plus the by-elections.  We are the third largest group at the LGA in numbers of councillors, though the fourth largest by electorate used in the LGA calculations. At the LGA, we gain extra seats on the People and Places Board and the City Regions Board. By-elections continued the trend, taking more seats and significantly increased majorities. For example, the Green Party in Suffolk, and Independents in Kingston upon Thames and Ashfield. I look forward to more successes and increasing Independent numbers in the forthcoming local elections this May!

Covid Inquiry

Many of you will have been contacted by the LGA regarding the upcoming Covid inquiry, asking for evidence and submitting answers for this important investigation. Thank you for playing your part in submitting evidence and responding to the request for information. I look forward to the final published report and learning how we can prevent the same mistakes from happening in future.

Thank You 

It has been another extraordinary year. The Group Executive would like to thank all of our councillors, for your resilience, your commitment and your impact. Our councillors have continued to lead their communities, making a difference and bringing people together. You do a fantastic job and on behalf of the whole Group Executive, it’s a privilege to work with and represent you at the LGA. Thank you to my Deputy, Hannah Dalton, Treasurer Paul Woodhead and Executive members who represent our regions and drive our activity.Thank you to our Peers and Lead Members for your thoughtful contributions and leadership on our Boards, on top of local commitments.  Thanks also to our council leaders, deputy leaders and portfolio holders. It is extraordinary how many councils are now being led by leaders who are part of the LGA Independent Group - and the better for it!

I’d like to thank our LGA Independent Group Officers for their amazing talent and hard work this year. Working together through the Local Government Association we have made a huge difference, as always, focused on the things that unite us: our residents and our planet.   

I wish you every success in the year ahead.  

Cllr Marianne Overton MBE

Leader of the LGA Independent Group