Group bulletin: 24 February 2023

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

24 February 2023


Greetings colleagues!

I write this week’s bulletin whilst attending the District Councils’ Network (DCN) Annual Conference in St. Albans, Hertfordshire. It has been great meeting and speaking to Independent Group Leaders, here in greater numbers this year. Talking to other Leaders, Chief Executives, Ministers, MP's and senior representatives from member councils and partner organisations, I am promoting the importance and value of our Councils. Research shows that services are most effectively run when run by Councils with the most devolved powers. We need to be at the heart of regeneration, growth, public health, housing and the environment. 

The District Council Network commissioned some research from ‘Britain thinks’, called "Districts deliver". They show that District Councils are the best known and trusted, even more than County Councils, and far more than Central Government. Powers to raise funds, and devolution of funds is important. Minister Lee Rowley reminded us that the fairer funding formula has been put on the back burner, but he had increased the small rural fund. His proposals for increased Government data collection from our councils including our reserves, by a new organisation that was not audit, yet run by an audit chief, called Oflog, was met with some scepticism. (Ref: Colin Copus Report, "Bigger is not always better")

Earlier this week, I joined parliamentarians on the ‘All Party Parliamentary Group on Devolution’ where I was able to fully present our case for devolution without reorganisation. Online attendees included a link with distinguished academic scholars and the Mayor of Kitchener from Ontario, Canada! I had the opportunity to contribute and called on the Government to give the tools and resources to tailor spending to local needs and opportunities to councils. As we know, this will deliver better outcomes than a centralised system characterised by micro-management and duplication. In addition, I called for the ability to have a tourist tax and for a new approach to public service investment, by asking areas to come forward with radical proposals to bring together budgets and public services under the leadership of local government.


Our online Candidate School 2023 continues to be a great success with many in attendance and some excellent guest speakers! A special thanks goes to Zainab Asunramu, who came on behalf of ‘Elect Her’, outlining the range of programmes available to support women standing for office and women in elected office. There is still time to attend our last few remaining sessions on Diversity in Politics, Social media and Canvassing; for the zoom meeting details, please do contact the Group Office.

‘Planning for the outcome of the May elections’ - information day (Surrey, Hampshire & Berkshire) : Monday 13th March - 2pm until 5pm

If you are based in London, 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 planning for change of control as well as ‘no overall control’ scenarios. For further information or to attend please email:

Council Candidate Information Day - 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

North East Regional Lead Peer 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.

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

The Independent Group held a very fruitful online discussion last week about the latest consultation on the Government’s proposed approach to the National Policy Planning Framework. We had a very comprehensive and information powerpoint presentation from an LGA officer about its implications and it was followed up by a Q&A session. If you missed the online presentation and discussion, a recording has been made available on our YouTube webpage. Finally, there is still time to contribute to the consultation with the deadline on 2nd March.

Funding for Coronation celebration events!

National Lottery Awards for All funding is available to support events and activities that celebrate and commemorate the King’s Coronation on or around the weekend of 6 – 8 May. We can fund a range of activities through National Lottery Awards for All awarding grants from £300 up to£10,000. We expect activities supporting His Majesty’s Coronation to be small scale and driven by the community. The LGA also has a useful website providing a wealth of information and support to local Councils. Don’t delay…Apply now!

Dates for the Diary

Economic Growth Advisers programme 2022/23 Showcase
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.

Handling complaints and improving tenant experience
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 Annual Fire Conference and Exhibition 2023
Tuesday 7 – Wednesday 8 March 2023, Nottingham

The 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.

Building safety update (Session 3)
Thursday 9 March 2023, 2.00pm – 4.00pm

This event is aimed at Directors of Housing and provides an update on councils’ responsibilities as landlords/arms-length management organisations (ALMO) overseers in respect of the new Building Safety regime, the Fire Safety Act and new fire safety regulations arriving in January. HSE, the Home Office and NFCC will provide updates and answer questions.

Levelling up locally inquiry launch
Tuesday 14 March 2023, 4.00pm – 5.15pm, followed by a drinks reception until 6.00pm. Registration for in-person attendees from 3.30pm. 18 Smith Square, Westminster, London SW1P 3HZ or online.

The LGA is running a hybrid event on Levelling up locally inquiry launch and we would be delighted if you were able to attend.

Tackling post pandemic challenges and the cost-of-living
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.

LGA Annual Culture, Tourism and Sport Conference 2023 (hybrid)
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.

Climate Change: How to translate climate ambition into local action?
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 – 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.

Biodiversity and nature recovery show and tell
Thursday 20 April 2023, 10.30am – 12.00pm

This webinar will showcase notable practice from councils of how to embed and take action to protect and enhance biodiversity in their local areas. It will provide examples of how councils can utilise their green spaces as well as being innovative when it comes to delivering nature recovery activities and preparing for mandatory biodiversity net gain.

LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2023
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