Group bulletin: 30 January 2023

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

30 January 2023


Greetings Colleagues,

This week included working on a host of issues on your behalf as part of the LGA Board, Executive Advisory Board and the IDeA Board discussions, keeping the LGA running smoothly and in a good direction. Thanks to our Independent Group Executive, who met this week to discuss and shape the Group Business Plan, procedures and preparations for the upcoming May local elections.

Concern about ambulance response times and the NHS led to a barrage of questions at our Councillor’s Forum this week, directed to Ben Dyson, (Executive Director of Strategy on NHS Improvement). Like me, you may be taking motions to your own council on what matters to residents, including support in the Cost-of-Living Crisis and support for the Ambulance Service. We are calling for a new Emergency Care Plan that tackles the problem and the contributory factors.

Our representatives on the Cities Board met this week to consider the interdependence with rural areas, the Future Cities conference, green jobs and levelling up ahead of round 3, which is coming soon. Our Group continues to seek devolution without forced Government reorganisation. The review Bigger is Still Not Better for the District Council’s Network by Professor Colin Copus remains a useful foundation for discussion.

We agreed a cross-party letter to DLHUC on the forthcoming implementation of Voter ID for the next local elections, setting out how best to deal with all the issues that are arising.

Our Group also amended and agreed the LGA cross-party response to the Government regarding the Provisional Local Government Settlement 2023/24.  There is extra funding for adult care, but not enough to tackle the underlying shortfall. It is clear that the stated core spending power can only be achieved if local authorities implement the maximum allowed increases in council tax. Further, grants are often ring-fenced, not promised to be on-going and a re-allocation of existing funding. We continue to call for multi-year settlements and for more long-term certainty around funding and budgets.

Thanks to all of you who contributed to the LGA Workforce Survey for 2022 published this week. We highlight staff shortages and retainment issues across council services, especially care of adults and children, environmental health and planning teams.

As pressures rise a hundred days out from the elections this week, with many new candidates, you might like another look at the LGA Debate Not Hate campaign. I spoke on ITV national and regional news bulletins, as co-chair of our LGA working group. The campaign encourages healthy debate and raises the profile of the role of councillors. You may find the toolkit for councillors useful. It is vital for proper democracy that we do hear all voices, but we do need proper, civil debate.

Congratulations to the Next Generation ninth Cohort, graduating this weekend.

We have just under 100 days until the local elections in 247 councils plus all the Parish Councils, a possible source of candidates! Independents and affiliated members have everything to gain to increase representation at record levels! Let’s get out there and win this!

LGA Conference 2023 Innovation Zone -Applications now open!

Each year, the LGA Annual Conference Innovation Zone showcases the outstanding, innovative work of councils across a range of service and policy areas. We are now accepting applications from councils, and organisations working with councils, to be part of the Innovation Zone at the LGA Annual Conference in Bournemouth (Tuesday 4–Thursday 6 July 2023). We are particularly interested in showcasing innovative projects and ideas relevant to:

  • the cost of living crisis
  • digital and tech solutions
  • people services including adult and children’s social care
  • resettlement
  • climate change, net zero and promoting sustainability
  • developing and / or upskilling the local government workforce
  • economic growth and supporting communities
  • managing housing pressures.

Sessions should be as interactive as possible – so, please think about ways to tell your story creatively. You might want to use technology to do this, although this is not essential.

Sessions will need to be approximately 30 to 45 minutes in duration – and this should include time for questions. Deadline for applications is Monday 27th February.

Brownfield Land Release Fund (BRLF2) Round 2

On Wednesday, our One Public Estate programme (OPE), a joint initiative with Cabinet Office and DLUHC, launched Round 2 of the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF2). As part of this, up to £180 million, Brownfield Land Release Fund 2 (BLRF2) capital grant funding is available to all English councils over a three-year period to support the release of council-owned brownfield land for housing. The first round of BLRF 2 launched in June 2022, providing almost £35 million of funding to more than 40 councils to release land for at least 2,200 homes by 2026. Applications to BLRF2 Round two are now open and close at 23.59 on 31 March 2023.

How is your local hospital performing?

Sky News recently reported on how well health services are performing in your local area. By typing in either your postcode, trust or health board name you can find valuable information related to your local area.

England’s most complained about councils, revealed!

To find out, investigated council complaint data from Local Government Ombudsman to uncover England’s most complained about councils, which types of concern are most common throughout the country, and which council has improved the most by using historical figures.

Updated pre-election period guidance  

A number of councils will have elections on Thursday 4 May 2023, and the latest date that the pre-election period can start for the local elections is Monday 27 March 2023. 

The LGA has updated its short guide to publicity during the pre-election period. This guidance provides advice on the publicity restrictions that should be observed during the pre-election period. It should be read in conjunction with any guidance produced by your own returning officer or monitoring officer, which provides specific advice depending on your local circumstances. 

It is important to note that pre-election rules restrict activity wider than just publicity. Use of council facilities and resources; the member’s code of conduct, developing new policies and holding events - including some meetings - featuring elected officials should all be carefully considered during a period of heightened sensitivity. 


The LGA is holding a free virtual event on photographic voter identification and raising awareness, including speakers from DLUHC and the Electoral Commission, on 9 February to look specifically at issues about the introduction of photographic voter ID and raising awareness of this new requirement. 

Voter ID: get ahead for elections in 2024 

For those who don’t have elections in 2023, the Electoral Commission is encouraging you to ‘get ahead’ and start planning your raising awareness campaigns and communications for future elections. There are Voter ID Resources which are not election/date specific.

Resources to support disabled people, including BSL videos. are being finalised and should be ready in the next week. Voter ID Resource Press Materials are available from The Electoral Commission to help you respond to questions.

Sign up now to be part of the NGDP in 2023

The National Gradual Development Programme (NGDP) is developing new talent in local government, placing high calibre graduates in councils across the country. Over 4,600 graduates have already applied this year. Find out how the NGDP could help your council to build capacity and develop future leaders of your workforce – sign up by 31 March or get in touch at


Bookings now open: DCN Annual Conference 2023

The DCN Annual Conference is back in February 2023. This year it moves to a new location: the beautiful Sopwell House near St Albans, Hertfordshire.

We’re pleased to share our near final programme found here.

You can book your place here.

We look forward to welcoming Leaders, Chief Executives, and other senior representatives from our member councils and partner organisations. Delegates will have the chance to engage with high-profile speakers, including Government ministers, MPs across the political spectrum, local government partners and leaders from the private sector and other walks of life.

They’ll also be able to take part in interactive sessions that showcase best practice and innovation in service delivery, and champion member councils’ work.

As always, there are challenges and opportunities on the local government horizon. Councils need to be at the heart of regeneration, growth, public health, housing and enhancing the environment. The conference will set out a positive vision of how DCN councils can do that.

Personal safety for councillors (virtual webinar)
Tuesday 21 February 2023, 2.00pm - 3.30pm

This programme has been specially devised for councillors who are keen to improve their awareness of personal safety. Built around the role of the elected member, the session is full of practical advice and guidance. 

Local authority best practice in repurposing shopping centres (virtual webinar)
Wednesday 22 February 2023, 10.30am – 12.00pm

This event will share The Growth Company’s initial findings of their LGA commissioned report on Local authority best practice in repurposing shopping centres and stimulate a discussion on the socioeconomic benefits, and costs, of local authorities taking a lead on shaping the future of shopping centres in our towns.

LGA Behavioural Insights programme: tackling post pandemic challenges and the cost-of-living crisis (virtual webinar)
Tuesday 14 March 2023, 11.15am – 1.00pm

The Local Government Association will be hosting our annual Behavioural Insights event to showcase how councils are using behaviour change techniques to address key challenges. Councils will share learning from projects associated with the cost-of-living crisis as well as those with a focus on improving young people’s mental health.

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.

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