Group bulletin: 19 May 2023

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

19 May 2023


Greetings colleagues!

Elections over - What’s next?

As the post-election turmoil subsides, our members right across the country are keeping true to their identity and making best use of their election success. Although we lost around a hundred members as the 18 councils dissolved into new unitaries, we have held our own. We won new councils outright and been part of negotiations where this year there have been 90 councils in no overall control. The Independent Group Members are in hot demand to play key roles in running the councils or forming powerful oppositions. The Council Annual General Meetings will be over by next week and our members ready to make a significant contribution in the year ahead.

Thank you to our fantastic team of accredited peers who have been reaching out to councils where we have new leaders or no overall control in the first instance. The LGA has a lot of resources available for members, from experienced, accredited fellow councillors, called “peers” and regional peers, trained to help you crystalise your thoughts and plan the way forward. We also offer trained mentors, officers called principal advisers, welcome events, training and expertise, all designed to help you be the best you can be!

We Group Leaders in the LGA met this week to accept the political balance, which I had previously checked in detail with the officer. As expected, Labour is now the largest group with Councillor Shaun Davies to be the next Chair of the organisation. I had already begun a series of useful meetings setting out our group’s priorities. These come from the vision and business plan previously created and agreed by the Independent Executive, drawing on your correspondence, conferences and think tank discussions.   

Looking at the final tally, the LGA proportionality figures are as follows; 

Conservative 33.75%, Independent/Other 12.64%, Labour 38.65%, Liberal Democrat 14.96%

The House of Commons Library has produced their own local election 2023 results and analysis following the local elections, which makes for interesting reading!

Our group held steady, despite so many of our councils disappearing and taking a disproportionate number of our members with them. The Green members gained widely and the Independents gained in some areas, such as Lincolnshire, especially Boston, with very determined campaigns. Our group is largely Independent 67%, 30% Green Party and 3% Plaid Cymru. Congratulations, colleagues on your magnificent achievements.

It seems that our standing council leaders may also have suffered from a nationally angered electorate, but nevertheless Leaders such as David Hitchiner in Herefordshire held their seats. We retain our seats on all the LGA Boards, including the Fire Services Chairmanship held by Councillor Frank Biederman from Devon. We will send out an Expressions of Interest form for our LGA Board vacancies at the beginning of June, after the places are ratified by the LGA Executive Advisory Board, for appointments to start from the beginning of September. These include:

  • Children and Young People– Deputy Chair and Member
  • Community Wellbeing– Deputy Chair
  • City Regions– Deputy Chair
  • Improvement and Innovation Board– Deputy Chair
  • Resources– Deputy-Chair and Member

Thank you to substituting colleagues who have ably filled any gaps.

I would also like to take this opportunity to pass on my thanks to our superb LGA Independent Group office team who have been working ‘flat out’. The new councillor contact lists are almost ready. If you would like any support on negotiations in your council, please contact the office or your principal regional adviser.

Independent Group Elections

Information on the Group Elections is now available on the Group’s webpage. The positions of Group Leader, Deputy Group Leader and Group Treasurer are up for election.

We set out to increase engagement of every member across England and Wales, which we have done. To increase the voter turnout, the Executive and membership agreed some changes at the 2022 AGM, to make it more engaging. The Group will have a period of 21 days after the Local Elections to allow new members to find out what the LGA does and what difference it makes. Thus the leadership, Peers and all our members should communicate without restriction and repercussion. This allows for the introductions with new councillors and to support our members who are undergoing a change of control or in need of other forms of support and information requirements after the local elections.

We will then enter the formal Election Period for 21 days, falling this year from Monday 5 June, when there will be restrictions on communication. There is not a single voting day, but our members receive a unique link at the start of the election period that they can complete during that period. This is to encourage as many of our members to vote as possible. To allow adequate time for nominations, the nomination papers are now available and the notice of election has been given. Every Political Group at the LGA undertakes its elections differently, and our processes have been agreed by debate at our AGMs over the years.

In other news…

‘Welcome Event’ for newly elected Independents, Greens and other smaller parties

The LGA Independent Group will be holding a ‘Welcome and Introduction’ online event for newly elected Independents, Greens and others from smaller parties with our regional lead peers in attendance. This will be a fantastic opportunity to get to know the Group, how the LGA works and what peer support is on offer as a member of the LGA. The events are being held on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 24th May: 7-8pm
  • Thursday 25th May: 2-3pm

To attend and get the zoom details, please email our Group Office.

Independent Group Elections

The Independent Group Election guidance and nomination forms are now available on the Independent Group Website for positions of Group Leader, Deputy Leader and Treasurer.

Completed nomination forms must be received by email by the Returning Officer, Claire Holloway, no later than 5.00pm on Monday 29 May.

The formal election period will begin on Monday 5th June – 21 days before close of ballot when there will be restrictions on communication. There is not a single voting day, but our members receive a unique link at the start of the election period that they can complete during that period. This is to encourage as many of our members to vote as possible.

All our Group Membership is entitled to vote in our elections, and we do not have a weighting system, so each vote is of equal value. Please look out for your unique voting link and vote by Monday 26 June 2023.

LGA Annual Conference and Independent Group AGM

This year’s Independent Group AGM will take place on Tuesday 4 July in Bournemouth at the LGA Annual Conference 2023. This is a great opportunity to learn and network, but if you are unable to attend the whole conference, you can attend our AGM without charge. If you are planning on attending the Group AGM, please contact the Independent Group Office.

The Independent Group Annual Report will also be available for members. If you would like a hard copy of the annual report, please contact the Independent Group Office and this will be arranged.

Mental Health Awareness week

Mental health affects everyone and especially, councillors. Unfortunately, abuse and intimidation within local politics and has not gone away. That’s why it’s important to report it and keep an eye on each other. The LGA provides a helpful range of resources through our ‘Debate not Hate’ toolkit. The City of London Police are offering some online sessions for councillors, called ‘Cyber Griffin’, part of their Cyber Crime Unit, specialising in protecting individuals from digital crime. To ensure these sessions work for councillors, Cyber Griffin would like to meet with a group of councillors who have experienced issues online as part of the process of developing the session. If you are interested in attending, please contact the Group Office.

Sunset Clause

Last week the UK Government rowed back on the plan to remove the 'sunset clause' from the Retained EU Law Bill, which would have seen thousands of good laws disappear at the end of this year, losing some basic environmental protections. A more thoughtful approach is now possible. Despite this climbdown, the UK Government is keeping carte blanche powers to scrap or change regulations after the Bill has passed without any consultation or scrutiny from MPs in a rather un-British, undemocratic move.

Applications now open for the Disabled Councillors Leadership Programme

 The LGA have partnered with Disability Rights UK to offer a bespoke leadership programme for disabled councillors. The Disabled Councillors Leadership Programme has been shaped in co-production with disabled people and councillors, ensuring it responds to the specific needs of disabled leaders.

Now in its second year, the LGA and Disability Rights UK are excited to offer disabled councillors the opportunity to join Cohort 2. Delegates will attend three workshops over 6 months, taking place on 25th and 26th November 2023 (in-person, residential), 20th January (online) and 9th March (in-person).

The programme is a unique opportunity to meet other disabled councillors from across the country from all political parties, learn from each other and develop as a cohort of peers and critical friends. Delegates will learn about their strengths as a leader, develop their leadership style, and use disability as an asset to leadership. Other topics include developing confidence, refining communication skills, and working across political boundaries to achieve change.

To find out more, please visit the LGA’s website. Councillors can also express their interest by completing a short online booking form.

Arrest without cause?

In what also seems a very authoritarian approach, a new law was recently used to allow the police to arrest any protester who is carrying string or tape in case it is used to attach to something. What does this mean for our member campaigns?  In April, we successfully ran “Be a councillor events” alongside the Climate Protest in April, which had a very upbeat, carnival atmosphere. With a tightening state, inflation and worsening access to health and local policing, it is important to stay positive!

Global Temperature to surpass 1.5 degrees by 2027

In their latest report, the ‘World Meteorological Organisation’ has stated “The annual mean global near-surface temperature for each year between 2023 and 2027 is predicted to be between 1.1°C and 1.8°C higher than the average over the years 1850-1900”. This is a worrying prediction and proves more than ever we must commit the Government to Net Zero by 2030 otherwise we will see the effects of climate change on our crops, livelihoods and our biodiversity. As we know, local Government is at the forefront of this battle and the LGA has a range of resources on its Climate Change Hub which councils can use for best practice and achieving net zero.

Independent Councillors Association

You may have received a letter from the Independent Councillors Association. We have been asked by the LGA to clarify that the Association is a private venture not affiliated with the LGA and that the LGA has not provided any contact details.

Dates for the Diary!

Accelerating decarbonisation through public procurement
Thursday 25 May 2023, 10.00am – 11.30am (Webinar)

This webinar will showcase examples of decarbonisation projects and collaborations. It will help both members and officers identify the toolkits and resources at their disposal and share good practice from across the local government sector in the high carbon emitting areas we work in, notably, construction, transport, housing and energy management. It will be useful to members with a procurement and climate portfolio.

Adult social care assurance: the return of regulation and the role of elected members
Tuesday 6 June 2023, 1.30pm – 3.00pm (virtual webinar)

Focussing on the now ‘live’ system of adult social care assurance, this webinar will bring together senior colleagues from the Department of Health and Social Care, the regulator and local government to reflect on, and share, latest developments, particularly in respect of the role of elected members.

Induction event for new lead members for adult social care
27 June 2023 (Free in person event, 18 Smith Square, London)

This free induction session to be held at Smith Square is aimed at new Portfolio-holders with responsibility for Adult Social Care. It will provide an introduction to current policy issues in care and health, and lots of opportunities for networking and discussion. To make a booking or for more information, please contact

LGA National new councillors’ welcome event
Tuesday 20 June 2023, 5.30pm - 7.30pm  (virtual Meeting)

All newly elected councillors from across the country are invited to attend the LGA’s virtual national welcome event. This webinar is an introduction to the Local Government Association and the support available to newly elected members.  There will be the opportunity to explore the national challenges facing councils; hear from experienced councillors on their top tips to equip you in your new role and have a breakout session with councillors from the same LGA Political Group as yourself.  There is no charge to participate in this event.

LGA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2023 
Tuesday 4 – Thursday 6 July 2023 | Bournemouth (in-person event)

Join us in Bournemouth for the biggest event in the local government calendar, where we’ll be discussing the latest issues affecting local government.

And finally…

A very warm welcome to our newly elected Independent, Green or small party Councillors. Please do introduce yourself to me or the Group Office and also, follow our Twitter Page and our Group Website!

The LGA is prestigious and able to attract the very best speakers, so the courses and conferences are excellent. The LGA is running a range an events programme on different aspects of local Government for newly elected councillors. Please do take a look and sign up!

Our fortnightly Group Leader meetings are continuing, soon to be boosted by the new arrivals. Thank you to you all for such a magnificent contribution in your areas and in the LGA.

I, our Deputy Leader Cllr Hannah Dalton, the LGA Independent Group Executive, Board Representatives and the Peer Team welcome you all to the LGA and look forward to meeting you in person or online. I know you will find your work with us fun and rewarding.

Best wishes for health, happiness and success in all that you do, working together with us at the LGA to improve life for local people and planet.

Have a good week.

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