Group bulletin: 26 May 2023

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

local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

26 May 2023



Migration in the news

In another bruising week for the Conservatives, net migration into the UK is at a record high, with long and expensive waits in hotels for a decision. This puts pressure on our councils who have a duty to provide services such as safeguarding and education. The Institute for Government have a useful article pointing out that 6 out of 10 of the people arriving in boats qualify for asylum where they become our full responsibility, including housing. You may be watching the legislation on “Illegal immigration” going through the House of Lords this week, which of course, only applies to the 45,000 of the 1.2 million entering the UK last year and is described as breaking our international agreements in legislation. Many of our council care services are depending on migrant workers, now increasingly from outside the EU. I have called for our regular cross-party ministerial meetings to be resumed in order to help councils tackle the issues arising in our home areas.

New Chair of the LGA

This week I held my first one-to-one meeting with the new Chair-elect of the LGA, Councillor Shaun Davies from Shropshire (Labour). I put forward key issues from our group members, including devolution, planning, housing, asylum, energy and climate change.

In May the LGA lost about 500 councillors when 18 councils were dissolved in “Devolution deals”, taking a disproportionate number of our Independent Group members with them. Shaun Davies agreed with our Group’s objection to the forced reorganisation of councils whereby residents end up with fewer people representing them and over-stretched councillors.

I raised with the Chair-elect the issue of the LGA better promoting councils’ work on tackling climate change and nature loss, where a step change is needed from most councils, according to recent calculations. The key role of councils in tackling climate change and achieving net zero was clearly recognised in a recent report led by Chris Skidmore MP, and more is needed. Recent reports show we are still on a collision course with nature and the 10 per cent Biodiversity Net Gain requirement coming in shortly is at risk of being counter-productive. On housing, we need to ensure energy efficiency and good planning takes a higher profile in the LGA. Everyone needs a home they can afford.

I also emphasised the importance of the work of the the Fire Services Management Committee, where our Group has the Chair, particularly with the highest ever temperatures expecting this summer. Both Shaun and I agreed to follow up and continue our discussions more regularly.

Welcome to the LGA Independent Group

A warm welcome to all our new and returning members on their successful elections. There are 13 councils where our group won the majority – huge congratulations. 112 councils are in no overall control where our Independent Group members are in the thick of it!

We held our two ‘welcome and introduction’ sessions for newly elected Independent and Green Councillors as well as councillors from the smaller parties. It was well attended and it was inspiring to see the passion and the enthusiasm on display. I wish all our new councillors well in their new roles and would like to remind you to get in touch with your regional lead peer, introduce yourself and do not be afraid of asking for help in your first few months of elected office!

There is a further cross-party National welcome event for new councillors on the 20 June, 5.30 – 7.30pm. I strongly encourage all our new councillors to attend and hear the important role the LGA plays in representing councils in England and Wales and the training and development opportunities it provides members.


Last week, I congratulated you on your fantastic success, with new Independent Group leaders running councils in power or from the back seat, in opposition! The old two-party system is breaking up, giving real opportunity to our members to step in and do a great job for residents. Congratulations also to new Council Leaders and new Deputies as well:

Councillors Adam Zerny (Central Bedfordshire), Joanne Sexton (Spelthorne), Sue Baxter (Bromsgrove), Mark Stephenson (Tendring), Paul Harvey (Basingstoke), Simon Waugh (Elmbridge), Ian Davison (Warwick), Caroline Topping (East Suffolk), Deborah Saw (Babergh), Ben Crystal (East Hertfordshire), Jim Martin (Folkestone & Hythe), John Mason (Rochford), Mandy Ewings (West Devon), Natalie McVey (Malvern), Marjory Bissett (Worcester), Jim Martin (Forest of Dean), Zoe Nicholson (Lewes), Andy Mellen (Mid Suffolk), Rachel Millward (Wealden) and Catherine Braun (Stroud).

Good luck to you all! If we have not included you, please do get in touch with the Group office so our records are up to date!


Huge thanks to my Deputy, Councillor Hannah Dalton, the LGA Independent Group Executive, Board Representatives and the Peer Team for your sterling work in helping our Independent Group to succeed so effectively. Fantastic!

Have a wonderful bank holiday everyone!

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 can 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 until the end of Monday 26 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.

Independent Group Elections - Frequently Asked Questions

We have recently updated our website to include ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ for the Group Elections. If you are considering standing for a position, please take a look if you are unsure about anything! Alternatively, please contact the Group Office.

Independent Group Elections – Hustings Friday 9 June!

We shall be hosting a hustings event for Independent Group members to hear from elections candidates and ask questions. This hybrid event will be streamed online but members are encouraged to attend in person at the Local Government Association, 18 Smith Square. The hustings takes place on Friday 9 June from 6pm until 7.30pm and will be chaired by ‘Nick Kilby’, CEO and Co-founder of Cratus Communications. Light refreshments will be served. If you would like to either attend in person or online, please contact the Group Office. Please encourage other members to attend and support this important event!

LGA Events for new Councillors

The LGA is running a series of introductory events for newly elected Councillors, including our national welcome event and our introductions to planning, audit and licensing. There really is something for everyone!

Infrastructure Level Technical Consultation

The LGA held a series of workshops focussing on the technical consultation on the design of the Infrastructure Levy (which runs until 9 June 2023). This included a webinar with officials from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) which provided a really helpful overview of the consultation. We have published a recording of the presentation that may be helpful in preparing your consultation response. We have also published the presentations from the more focused workshops, and a frequently asked questions resource drafted in response to questions raised.

Civility in Public Life

This week, new research with recommendations was agreed by the cross-party Civility in Public Life Steering Group which I co-chair. Our “Debate not Hate” campaign and toolkit has over 600 councillors already signed up to it. I have also presented it to the UK Forum covering England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and to Local Government across Europe, representing some 130,000 councils. It is an honour to lead a UK initiative to which our members have contributed, and is of both local and international interest.

Dates for the Diary!

LGA new members introduction to planning

With lots of new councillors in post following the local government elections PAS are working with the LGA to deliver a short session to introduce planning for councillors.

This free online session, held at 10am on 31 May, for local authority councillors, will:

  • explain the planning process
  • give clarity to some of its complexities
  • highlight the importance and different roles that councillors have interacting with the process.

Elect Her Councillor Gathering - Tuesday 13 June, 1-2pm and 7-8pm, online

We are inviting women in councils to come together in a relaxed online session and share resources, experiences and advice so we can build a stronger support network for women in local politics. So whether you’re newly elected or on your third term, join us in creating community and sisterhood. We’ll share challenges, experiences and resources and get advice from former councillor Hannah O’Neill, so you can feel supported as you participate in local politics.

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. 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 LGA General Assembly will also take place at the LGA Annual Conference and all local authority members have been invited this month to appoint their representatives to attend the Assembly. The deadline for receipt of your nomination form is 7 June 2023. Appointments will take effect from the Annual Meeting on 4 July 2023 and shall end immediately before the Annual Meeting the following year. The agenda for the meeting will be available two weeks before the meeting. Previous agenda papers and minutes of previous meetings of the General Assembly are available to view.

Best wishes,

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