Group bulletin: 17 February 2023

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

17 February 2023


 Greetings Colleagues!

Our Councils are in the midst of setting budgets, with most councils opting to increase council tax by the maximum amount, use reserves, make savings and increase charges, all in order to sustain services. One of our Executive Members, Councillor Craig Browne the Deputy Leader of Cheshire East Council, featured on ITV News earlier this week to highlight the scale of the problem many of us are facing. As research by the County Councils Network has shown, three in four councils plan to increase Council Tax by the maximum amount in April. At 4.99% the average Band D household will see their bills rise by £100 a year and in a rural county area by £2,149. This is due towards historic levels of underfunding from Government compared to London, leaving councils outside the city having to make up the shortfall with increases in taxation.  You may find the LGA response to the settlement has some useful points for your Council meetings.

Pay negotiations – short survey for our Group

Much has been happening regarding the national pay negotiations for our sector. Cllr Frank Biederman has been representing our Group on the Fire Services negotiations, which after 12 hours of negotiations agreed a 7% uplift for this year and 5% for next year. Discussions on Fire Chief’s pay continues. Cllr Jon Hubbard is representing us on the National Employers Organisation for School Teachers (NEOST) and Cllr Doug McMurdo is representing up on the Local Government Services Employers NJC, who are meeting this Thursday to discuss the various pay claims that have come in. In summary, these are:

  • GMB and Unison - RPI (10.70 per cent) + 2.0 per cent
  • NJC Trade Unions (Green Book) - RPI + 2 per cent on all pay points
  • ALACE for Chief Executives - a pay increase for all chief executives in April 2023 and subsequent years that is the same as the percentage increase for the top point on the scale for local government staff covered by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services and a direct and immutable link for increases for April 2023 onwards, to ensure that chief executives would receive the same percentage increase as the top point on the NJC scale.

To ensure we continue to represent your views and base our discussions on your first hand experiences, we would appreciate you completing this very short 4 question survey on how much your council is including in next year’s budget to cover rises in pay. We are also looking to set up a new Think Tank in this area, with an expression of interest in the survey form. A reminder that you can sign up to all our Think Tanks via our website.

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

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is seeking views on how we might develop a new national planning policy and how it is accessed and used. 

We held an online discussion about the proposals, and its wider implications, and you still have an opportunity to respond to the consultation on Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill: reforms to national planning policy.

North East Regional Lead Peer - NOW OPEN for applications

The LGA Independent Group is looking to appoint a North East regional lead peer - applicants need to be an accredited peer, having undertaken at least 2 peer challenges and from the North East Region which includes the following councils: Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Sunderland, Hartlepool, Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesborough, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Durham and Northumberland. If eligible, please apply now! Deadline for submissions are Monday 6th March with interviews taking place on Wednesday 8th March.

Helping councils do more

I joined the LGA Improvement Board this week and thank our representatives for their excellent work, Cllrs Neil Prior, Mike Haines, Julian German and substitute, Councillor Jim Hakewill. The work being done to help Councils and Councillors following the 2019 Climate change motion at the LGA AGM was reviewed with excellent feedback.Almost all Councils have engaged with the LGA Climate Change Hub, with literally thousands of people signed up for the climate change e-bulletin. Let’s make sure our group is well represented.

You may want to draw on the 211 case studies on the Pass the Planet initiative, join over 500 members of the Climate Emergency Knowledge Hub for Councils who have declared an emergency, or be one of over a thousand people who have attended the webinars. Also useful is the Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool and the Retrofit Action Plan Training and Action Learning about decarbonisation of transport. The Net Zero Innovation Programme NZIP brings it all together.

DCN Annual Conference 23-24 February 2023

The DCN Annual Conference for District Councillors is back in February 2023 in Sopwell House near St. Alban’s, Hertfordshire. Booking is now by waiting list, so we will get some feedback to you.  

Plaid Cymru Conference

Once again, I shall be attending the Plaid Cymru Conference in Llanelli between 3 – 4th March. It will be great to see our Plaid members and engaging with the lively debates planned!

‘Be a Councillor’ Events happening near you!

Council Candidate School 2023

We launched this year’s council candidate school last Friday, with good attendance, with interesting questions being put to our guest speakers. I would like to thank Councillors Adam Paynter and Hannah Dalton, for delivering such excellent and informative presentations on ‘Standing as a Councillor’ and ‘The Key Issues for the 2023 Elections’. Please do spread the word to anyone interested in standing as an Independent Candidate! All sessions will be recorded so anyone who missed a session can catch up! To attend the next session, please email the Group Office.

‘Be a Councillor Event’ East Midlands, Lincoln Cathedral Centre: Friday 3rd March

This one-day conference adjacent to the mighty Lincoln Cathedral is designed to inspire councillors and prospective candidates, ready for the elections on 4th May. If you are in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire or Rushcliffe, then this is for you! Hosted by Cllr Marianne Overton MBE with speakers including councillors Jason Zardrozny on ‘Taking control of your council’, and the Chief Executive on ‘Challenges facing our Councils’ and how we are tackling them. Also highways, greener planning and a soapbox 3 min slot for you. The event is to be followed by a reception in the Castle. Book on Eventbrite or contact Marianne Overton MBE 07920 235 364. Why not make a weekend away in Lincoln?  Any questions, give me a ring 07920 235 364

‘Be a Councillor’ London & South East

If you are based in Surrey, Berkshire and/or Hampshire, an event will be held on Monday 13th March from 2 – 5pm at the Runnymede Civic Offices in Addlestone, Surrey. The event will be hosted by the Regional Lead Peer for London and the South East, Councillor Linda Gillham, with Councillors Hannah Dalton (Epsom and Ewell) and Paul Harvey (Basingstoke) in attendance. The session will cover the following topics, ‘Preparing for the election with examples of manifestos’ and ‘What does NOC entail and how to prepare’. Feedback on other topics are also welcome and members are advised to contact Linda direct. For further information or to attend please email:


LGA Annual Conference – apply by 27 February to be part of our Innovation Zone

Applications are now open for our Innovation Zone – a vibrant and creative space at the LGA Annual Conference which will take place from Tuesday 4 to Thursday 6 July in Bournemouth.

The Innovation Zone enables councils to showcase their new ideas and solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing local government. The theme for this year’s Innovation Zone is ‘Challenge and change’, and we are aiming to share excellent practice that all delegates can learn from and use to create tangible, positive impacts in their own councils and communities.

If you have delivered interesting, impactful projects and are interested in getting involved please see the Innovation Zone application form and information.

Applications are open to all councils (and organisations working with councils) with bold and innovative ideas to share and will close on Monday 27 February. If you have any questions, please email

LGA Annual Fire Conference and Exhibition 2023: Tuesday 7 – Wednesday 8 March, Nottingham

The LGA Annual Fire Conference and Exhibition 2023, which will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nottingham, is an opportunity for senior fire officers and members of fire and rescue authorities to meet and discuss developments impacting the fire and rescue sector.

We will hear from a range of expert speakers about some of the key issues facing fire and rescue services and consider how we can meet these challenges. Book now!

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. 

The Economic Growth Advisers Programme: 2022/23 Showcase (virtual webinar)
Tuesday 28 February 2023, 10.30am – 12.00pm

The Local Government Association will be hosting a webinar to spotlight Economic Growth case studies undertaken by local authorities through the Economic Growth Advisers programme. These will cover, town centre regeneration, support to SMEs to reduce their carbon emissions and harnessing opportunities to grow the creative industries sector.

Supporting people with mental health problems back into work (virtual webinar)
Tuesday 28 February 2023, 2.00pm – 3.30pm

This webinar, organised by the NISE network in partnership with the LGA, will highlight how employment is beneficial for our mental health and how organisations can support people with mental health problems getting back into and staying in work.

Handling complaints and improving tenant experience (virtual webinar)
Friday 3 March 2023, 10.30am – 12.00pm

This webinar will focus on how to handle complaints in housing, giving particular attention to damp and mould. Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, will talk about complaints and build on their 2021 Spotlight Report on damp and mould. Participants will have the opportunity to put questions to the Housing Ombudsman

LGA Behavioural Insights programme: tackling post pandemic challenges and the cost-of-living (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 as well as those with a focus on improving young people’s mental health.

Levelling up locally inquiry launch (Hybrid event)
Tuesday 14 March 2023, London

Over the past year the levelling up locally inquiry has been exploring how the Government’s levelling up agenda might better strengthen local areas. This is a hybrid event and will be an opportunity to hear the key findings and recommendations of the inquiry as well as network with attendees.  

LGA Annual Culture, Tourism and Sport Conference 2023 (hybrid event)
Wednesday 15 March 2023, London

The conference will explore the contribution culture, tourism and sport make to the levelling up agenda and the role these vital services play in tackling inequalities and supporting our national recovery from COVID-19.

Smith Square Debate - Climate Change: How to translate climate ambition into local action? (Hybrid event)
Thursday 16 March 2023, London 

Councils are central to leading local climate action. They have direct influence over a third of local emissions and are critical to place-based adaptation across villages, towns and cities. Councils’ importance is recognised internationally in the Glasgow Climate Pact, nationally in the Government’s Net Zero Strategy, locally by community and council declarations action, as well as countless expert interventions.

Annual Public Health Conference 2023 (virtual webinars)
Tuesday 21 March to Thursday 23 March 2023, 9.30am - 1.00pm

This key annual public health conference will offer delegates the opportunity to hear from leading expert speakers on the very latest thinking in national public health policy issues, as well as gaining insights from those delivering on the ground. It will again provide a much-needed opportunity for the public health community to come together, share learning, take stock and plan for the future.

Urban Summit (in-person event)
Wednesday 22 March 2023, London

The Urban Summit presents an opportunity to bring together urban leaders, academics, think tanks and others with an interest in the future of England’s cities to discuss three questions: What are cities? What do we need our cities to be? What is the difference between where our cities are now and where they need to be in the future and how do we get them there?

LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2023 (in-person event) 
Tuesday 4 to 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