Group bulletin: 16 June 2023

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

16 June 2023


Hello again from the Independent Group Office,

We hope you have all been enjoying the summer sun and long may it continue!

Last Friday, the Independent Group hosted an excellent hustings event for candidates standing to be Group Treasurer, Deputy Leader and Leader. A massive thanks to all who attended either online or in-person, asked questions and helped democracy in action! Our sincere thanks also go to Nick Kilby of Cratus Communications; Nick chaired the debate brilliantly and allowed everyone a fair hearing. Finally, thank you goes to Darryl who managed the AV equipment seamlessly for us and the catering team for supplying us light refreshments! If you still have not made up your mind about who to vote for, please take a look at the hustings recording and then afterwards vote!

Regarding voting, turnout for the Group Elections is currently at 20 per cent and if you have not voted already, please vote! All LGA Independent Group members will have received a unique voting link by now but if you have not, please check your junk mail! For any further questions, please do contact the Group office!

As you know, the LGA exists to support and represent local government and as part of our sector improvement offer, our sector support programme for 2023/24 has just been published which spans leadership, governance, finance, workforce – and our wider improvement programmes in children’s services; adult social care, cyber and digital technology, planning, culture, tourism and sport. Please do take a look at the different leadership and support programmes on offer at the LGA, and get in touch with either Grace Collins or William Oldham for more information.

Finally, with our LGA Annual Conference just three weeks away, the Independent Group will be holding its own AGM on Tuesday 4 July from 10am until 11.30am. One of the motions up for debate will be ‘That the Independent Group applies the Single Transferable Vote (STV) voting methodology to the Group Elections’. Members will be asked to vote on adopting the motion. Ahead of the AGM, the Independent Group has arranged for an online information session to take place via Zoom, next Monday 19 June from 6pm – 7pm. We are delighted to welcome Dr Maarja Luhiste, Reader in Comparative Politics and Gender from Newcastle University, who will be explaining how STV works and answering any questions. To register to attend, please contact the Group office for the zoom meeting details.

Have a good weekend and remember to vote!

News from the LGA

Independent Group Elections 2023 – A message from the Returning Officer

In 2022, the Independent Group Executive agreed a series of changes to the rules governing the Group elections. The revised rules are set out clearly in the Guidance for the election of Office Holders and in the Campaigning and Communication Guidance for candidates, both published on the Independent Group website.

The former states that No candidate may undertake or incur further expenses on campaigning in addition to the weekly communication sent out by the Independent Group office at any time after the election notice is published”. The latter states:

  • No candidate may undertake or incur further expenses on campaigning in additional to the weekly communication.
  • During the election period all Group business will be communicated to Members through Independent Group officers. This includes all think tank activity.
  • Lists of names and addresses of Independent Group Members will not and cannot be released to candidates for the purposes of the election, and any LGA-originating contact, contact lists, networks or communication platforms must not be used by candidates for campaigning. This would be in breach of the LGA Independent Group Constitution and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). 
  • The weekly campaigning communication from the Independent Group office has been set up so that candidates do not need to find contact details of our members and to ensure the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), which apply to all election campaigning, can be adhered to.
  • To ensure our membership is not unwittingly breaching the LGA Independent Group constitution at section 6.4 of the procedures for elections which states: nor may they, or any third party on their behalf, contact, post on social media or send any additional material to electors, relating to the election, by any means the RO accepts that members may wish to informally discuss the election in person, on the phone or using an online platform and may wish to encourage and remind members of the Independent Group to vote. However, there should not be the creation and distribution of what could be considered campaigning material in addition to what has been distributed by the Group Office on behalf of candidates.

As Returning Officer for the election it has been disappointing to receive numerous complaints about breaches of the campaigning guidelines. Complaints relate to various mailings sent direct by candidates and to mailouts sent by the Green Party, the Independent Councillors’ Association and the Independent Network. The LGA has not supplied any contact details to any individuals or organisations. If you have concerns that about data protection or PECR breaches, please refer the matter direct to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

I have considered the limited options open to me, which include restarting the election. However I do not believe that this is in the best interests of the Local Government Association or of the Independent Group. Without breaching confidentiality, I have also reviewed voting patterns across the election period and see no evidence that material circulated independently has resulted in any unexpected peaks in activity..

I would however ask those Independent Group members who have yet to vote to disregard any campaigning material sent direct to them. The video of last Friday’s hustings is now available on the Independent Group website and you may wish to review this, and the material sent out by the Independent group office on behalf of candidates, in making your decision.

Motions for Independent Group AGM – 4 July, 10am, Bournemouth

The Independent Group has its Group AGM on Tuesday 4 July starting at 10.00am and its Group Dinner in the evening at 7.30pm. We have already had a few motions submitted for consideration at our AGM but please remember, if you wish to submit a motion for consideration at the AGM these must be received by the Independent Group Office at least 14 days before the meeting.

LGA Board Places

Unfortunately, due to staff sickness we have not been able to send out the ‘Expression of Interest’ form for the various LGA Board places this week. However, the EOI form will be sent out to everyone by next week.

Loneliness Awareness Week

This week (12 – 18 June) is loneliness awareness week. We know that talking about mental health is important but it can also be hard to know where to start. ‘Good Thinking: How to cope with loneliness’ is a useful resource with some handy tips if anyone you know might be feeling lonely. The NHS also provides sound advice for tackling loneliness and other links to useful organisations that are on hand to help!

Pride Month: LGBTQ+ councillors – weekender events

LGBTQ+ councillors are invited to join us at our annual two-day, cross-party weekender event – an excellent opportunity to network and share experiences:

Dates: 3 – 4 February 2024

Venue: Warwick Conferences, Lakeside Village, Scarman Road, CV4 7SH

Fee: The cost for attending one of these two-day residential events is £150 which includes accommodation, meals and all learning materials. Attendees may wish to join us for dinner and stay overnight at the venue on Friday 2 February 2024 (the night before the event) for an additional £50.

To register, please email Grace Collins.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) councillors – weekender events

If you're a councillor, building your own 'brand identity' has never been more vital.

This 24-hour masterclass and facilitated conversation will give you opportunities to:

  • explore what it means to be a minority elected representative and the difference your cultural identity can make in serving all communities (and racialised communities in particular)
  • hear from experienced and notable BAME political leaders about how they developed political brand identities to address key challenges
  • reflect on your personal leadership purpose and style in a discussion about politics and power and the importance of shaping and maintaining your identity in political relationships
  • gain valuable insights about your own brand identity to achieve maximum results in shaping the political landscape.

This event will start at 12.00pm on Saturday and finish with lunch at 1.15pm on Sunday.

To register, please email Grace Collins.

Young councillors – weekender events

This year’s programme will include plenary sessions – led by leading councillors and other experts in the field of leadership – which will address personal development and some of the key current issues and challenges for all councillors.

Optional workshop topics will include:

  • navigating political group dynamics
  • managing your mental health
  • decision-making
  • financing an uncertain future.

Dates: Saturday 18 November - Sunday 19 November 2023

Venue: Warwick Conferences, Lakeside Village, Scarman Road, Coventry CV4 7SH

Fee: The cost for attending one of these two-day residential events is £150 which includes accommodation, meals and all learning materials.

Attendees may wish to join us for dinner and stay overnight at the venue on Friday 18 November (the night before the event) for an additional £50.

To register, please email Grace Collins.

Dates for the Diary

LGA National new councillors’ welcome event (virtual meeting)

Tuesday 20 June 2023, 5.30pm - 7.30pm

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.

Exploring ‘Pride in Place’ (virtual webinar) 

28 June 2023, 3pm - 4.30pm

The Institute of Place Management is hosting a webinar to explore ‘Pride in Place’. The webinar will explore what has made 'local pride' a cornerstone of place policy, and more recently, on the evolution of high streets and communities, and how those leading and managing places should consider pride.

Recycling fit for the future (virtual webinar)

Monday 18 September 2023, 2.30pm - 4.00pm

Local flexibility is key to effective recycling services. Looking ahead to the implementation of national reforms to the way recycling services are provided and funded, this session will look at some of the challenges facing councils and what can be done to meet ambitions for increased recycling.

Empty Properties Report Launch (virtual meeting)

Thursday 21 September 2023, 10.30am – 12.00pm

The LGA is launching our report into empty properties, providing an overview of good practice as well as exploring the key ingredients for how to make the best use of housing in your local area. Join us to find out more about the recommendations.

In-person event: T Level national conference

Thursday 12 October, London - This event is free to LGA members.

The event will showcase those councils which have hosted a T Level learner and will reflect on the learning from their experience so far. For councils which are still planning or considering taking on a T Level learner from the Autumn, this event will offer the chance to look at good practice / case studies, overcoming barriers and celebrating achievements to date. We will have speakers from the Department for Education, the Gatsby Foundation, Association of Colleges and the Local Government Association. Presentations will cover T Level learners’ experiences across a range of industries, how industry placements have improved young people’s employment prospects and how providers are working in partnership with employers.

‘Skills London’ 18 – 24 Jobs Fair

Skills London will be returning to ExCeL London on 24 and 25 November. Skills London offers a practical way for over 20,000 14 to 24 year-olds to meet face to face with more than 100 employers and education providers. It's free to attend and with around 35,000 jobs, training and apprenticeship opportunities at the event, Skills London helps young Londoners find a future that works for them.

The Skills London team works with London schools and colleges from every borough to encourage teachers to book group visits with their students. More information about the event and how you can get involved can be found on the Skills London website.