Group bulletin: 10 February 2023

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

10 February 2023


Greetings Colleagues,

One again, I attended several key meetings this week on issues such as Voter ID, Net Zero and refugees, as well as having our fortnightly meeting with our Independent Council Leaders.

Thanks for your comments on the new requirements for Photo ID at the polling station. We did fight against it being implemented, especially within six months of an election. I put your points to Local Government Minister, Lee Rowley MP previously. The decision is now made and this week Lee Rowley and the Electoral Commission met us at a roundtable investigation into how Voter ID could be best made to work. Picking up on your points, I asked for support on funding, public awareness and flexibility on the photo ID. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have agreed to meet again in March to give further updates and report on progress made. The types of acceptable ID are relatively restrictive but there was no movement on this as it is set in the legal statute. They did however, agree that the photo had to be recognisable, rather than being pedantic on passport photo rules. A Passport, bus pass or photo driving licence are acceptable, even if out of date. A postal vote circumvents all that, of course. It is also worth noting that if a council finds itself overspending on implementing these new changes then they can contact the Government for more funding.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove MP announced this week the final settlement for local Government. Overall core spending power will reach £60bn and the announcement includes an additional £10m for the rural services grant and £19m for the services grant. In most other areas the government is proceeding as it set out in December's provisional settlement, and it rejected calls for greater flexibility for the Districts £5/yr maximum rise.

In other news, the LGA met cross-party with the Lord Callanan, Minister for the newly merged Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy yesterday, and put forward the need for energy efficient grants to be more flexible and sustainable in the long term and agreed a new joint board initiative to work together to achieve net zero emissions.

Applications are still being welcomed for our Innovation Zone at this year’s LGA annual conference. The theme for the 2023 Innovation Zone is Challenge and change – and with this we are aiming to share excellent practice that all delegates can learn from and use to create tangible, positive impact in their own councils and communities. 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.

Finally, the Group Executive met this week to discuss changes to the voting methodology used in Group elections. The Executive agreed to put forward changing the voting system to the ‘Single Transferable Vote’ for discussion and debate at the Annual General Meeting. More to follow!

Opportunities for you

Candidate School officially launches this week!

Do you know anyone interested in local Politics? Do any of your friends or colleagues wonder how local Government works? Do you know someone who wants to be a Councillor for your local community? The Candidate School is for them! Over a series of seven online information sessions, the LGA Independent Group will take you on a journey from starting out as a candidate, running a campaign to getting elected and serving your local community. Each session will be led by a local Councillor who will share their experiences and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. If you know of anyone interested in standing as a candidate or are just curious about what’s involved then encourage them to sign up! To register for any of these events, please contact the Group Office.

Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill: reforms to national planning policy

The LGA Independent Group will be holding an online discussion with Councillors and affiliated members, on Thursday 16th February, to share ideas and feedback on the consultation. A number of Councillors are already attending the event. To register your interest in attending the online discussion, please contact the Group Office and further information will be sent out to you.

Can Pension Funds have their green cake and eat it?

LG Pension Funds in the UK have £trillions of assets which can both provide the retirement benefits of members and also be leveraged to change the world we live in by leaning on key ESG objectives. “Yes. We can have our green cake, and eat it” says LGA Independent Group Councillor, Wisdom Da Costa. Wisdom is a panel member (trustee) on the Royal Berkshire Pension Fund (RBPF) with £2 billions of assets under its management. The RBPF has recently developed and published a Responsible Investment Policy to help focus achievement on key areas of ESG, as defined by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Wisdom’s aim is to put in place targets, methods and metrics that encourage the underlying investments to improve their green premium thus both improving fund value whilst positively changing the world around us. Key focus areas for RBPF's current RI policy include; Net Zero within Paris Budget; Biodiversity loss elimination; Reduction of plastic in the supply chain and downstream pollution. Future incarnations of the RI Policy will aim to tighten these objectives and set targets to help stave off the existential crises relating to these areas. There are many hurdles to overcome not least of which are education and professional inertia but, where there is a will, there is way.Imagine how much change could be effected if collectively LG Pension Funds were able to leverage the £trillions of assets under their ownership.You can find out more at his blog on the residents association that supports him.

Wisdom would welcome collaborating with interested parties. You can reach him at

Government announces £200m for walking and cycling

This week the Government announced a new pot of funding available, up to £200m, for local authorities outside London. The funding is aimed at improving walking and cycling routes to enable us all to lead more active lifestyles. Funding will also be used to support people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters by making street designs more inclusive. Projects will be designed in consultation with residents and businesses to ensure schemes are safe and work for local communities. The successful projects will be announced later this year. Guidance has been created to help local authorities develop active travel schemes that are well-designed and completed to a high standard. I encourage all local authorities to apply for a share of the funding!

Useful Information

Greenhouse Gas Accounting Suite of Tools 

The Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool has been developed by Local Partnerships, working with the LGA, to provide a straightforward and consistent approach for councils seeking to calculate their own carbon baseline. Featured alongside the tool is a Waste Emissions Calculator that has been developed by Cambridgeshire County Council and University College London on the LGA Net Zero Innovation Programme. If you have any questions or suggestions for improvement, please contact

LGA & Design Council Design Differently Community-Based Climate Change Programme – Applications Open 

The Design Differently programme is free to councils and looks to use design thinking and problem-solving to support community focused climate change projects. Starting in April, we’re looking for up to ten councils with a sustainability challenge to build capacity or kick start a fledgling project.

Interested parties are asked to contact who will send further information and on-boarding expressions of interest documentation

John Pollard RIP

Independent Leader of Cornwall Council, John Pollard did an amazing job. He accessed EU funds for Cornwall, dramatically improved digital and other infrastructure and stood up to the Government on the issue of a Mayor. He was generous with his time at the LGA, always ready to support others. Our condolences to his colleagues, his family and friends.  

John was also a prominent peer with the LGA Group and our Lead Peer, Mike Haines comments; “John was a good friend during his time as a councillor and as a peer mentor for the LGA Independent group. His dedicated service to the people of Cornwall and beyond is an example to us all.”

Free LGA action learning sets on climate change and equalities 

These action learning sets will be focused on supporting councils to ensure they are effectively embedding EDI in their work around climate change prevention and mitigation. If you are currently trying to find ways of achieving this, or you feel you have found successful ways that you can share with others but perhaps are seeking to grow this approach into other areas of your work, we invite you to express your interest in attending.

Group C: 

  1. Thursday 16 February: 2.00pm – 4.30pm (2.5 hours) 
  2. Monday 20 February: 2.00pm – 4.30pm (2.5 hours) 

If you wish to attend these sessions or would like to find out more, please respond to:


Bookings now open: DCN Annual Conference 2023 – LAST WEEK TO REGISTER!

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.

Political Leadership Masterclasses: Health and Wellbeing in the Integrated Care System
Tuesday 7 March 2023, 10am to 4pm, Birmingham
Wednesday 15 March 2023, 10am to 4pm, Liverpool

Political leaders face the challenge of leading change at scale across cultural and structural boundaries, navigating complexities in the new Integrated Care System environment. The importance of Place and Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) is integral to the success of integrated care systems (ICS). This Masterclass session, run once in Birmingham and once in Liverpool, will explore approaches to tackling the challenges. These are free events, open to Members from across the country. 

The LGA National Construction Conference
Tuesday 7 March, Leeds 

Working with the construction industry, councils are best positioned to lead place-based approaches to hit net zero targets, lead on local green growth and, use procurement best practice to tackle spiralling inflation, resource scarcity, sustainability issues and a move to modern methods of construction and digitalisation. After three years of online conferences, we are back in person to promote networking on construction across the local government sector.

Sustainability in council services - Show and Tell
Thursday 16 March 2023, 10:30am to 12:00pm

The LGA has commissioned the Zero Carbon Britain team at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) to undertake an exciting project to develop draft route maps for councils across England to understand how to embed sustainability across some council service areas. Through a series of workshops that brought together voices from across councils to contribute expertise in how service areas and operations work, this webinar will explore what was discussed, provide space for feedback and questions as well as explaining what the next steps for the project are.

Visit the Climate Change hub or email for more information.

And don’t forget!
LGA Annual Conference 2023

Join us in Bournemouth (Tuesday 4–Thursday 6 July 2023) for the LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition. As always, the Independent Group will be in attendance and will be holding its AGM. Please do book your place and we look forward to seeing you there!

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