Group bulletin: 11 August 2023

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

11 August 2023


Greetings colleagues!  

This week, continuing to put pressure on the Government to allow councillors to meet online where necessary, I spoke on BBC Radio Humberside in response to a disabled new mother and councillor who, unable to attend meetings in person, was dismissed under the ‘six month’ attendance rule.  

Currently, a ‘two-tier’ system operates allowing virtual attendance for some meetings, such as hearings for licensing and school admissions, but statutory meetings covered by the 50-year-old 1973 Local Government Act, such as planning and full council, require in-person attendance. I made clear during my interview that the Government should provide councils, who know their communities best, with the flexibility they need to decide how to use hybrid technologies in their meetings. 

The House of Lords has passed an amendment to the Levelling Up Bill to enable hybrid attendance where necessary. It still needs support as it goes through Parliament, so you may like to lobby your MPs.  

We have also been raising the issue of railway station ticket office closures and our position against a cart blanche extension to permitted development rights taking planning control and financial contributions away from Local Government.  

I am excited to announce our upcoming events for the Independent Group have been confirmed starting with a ‘weekender’ for the Independent Executive and LGA Board members, Council Leaders and Regional Lead Peers on the 20th – 21st October. More importantly, our Independent Annual Conference will take place on 24th – 25th November which is open to all our members. Please do fill in our survey and let us know what you want to see at this year’s conference! 

Applications for our prestigious Next Generation three-weekend training course are now open. Thank you to everyone who has sent us an initial Expression of Interest. This is a great course that is well worth doing. The LGA covers the cost of the course and accommodation, as well as providing free attendance at the LGA annual conference. Participants are expected to attend all the sessions and participate fully. Given the level of interest we are anticipating holding additional interviews for the coveted places. 

Thank you for sending in your applications to join our LGA Boards. Most applicants have now been contacted, however, if you missed the deadline for this year or were unsuccessful, perhaps you might be interested in joining as an LGA Member Peer? We are always on the lookout for more and they deliver our sector support offer to our member councils! Please email for more information! 

News from the LGA

The Independent Group is now looking to host its next cohort of councillors to participate in its Next Generation programme this autumn. The programme helps newly elected councillors and established councillors in three areas of training and development: personal leadership, political leadership as well as communication and media skills. To register your interest, please do contact the Group Office. 

LG Challenge – Applications now open for 2024 cohort! 

The LG Challenge serves to develop a new generation of local government leaders. With the opportunity to be awarded the prestigious £10,000 Bruce-Lockhart scholarship, local government officers of all levels, grades and backgrounds are encouraged to apply. 

The Local Government Chronicle have given an update on the latest devolution deals and the progress being made. It makes for interesting reading! 

Resident satisfaction polling 

The LGA’s latest polling into residents’ perceptions of local government has shown overall levels of satisfaction remain unchanged at 60 per cent. However, the results show some key indicators are the lowest on record, including trust and value for money.  

Homes for Ukraine: Homeless Prevention Grant 

Councils will receive a grant determination letter with their allocation of the Homelessness Prevention Grant – Homes for Ukraine funding top-up. The top-up is aimed at supporting Ukrainians into sustainable accommodation and reducing the risk of homelessness across communities.   

Care experienced councillors 

At the LGA Annual Conference, LGA Chair Cllr Shaun Davies announced that one of his priorities is to support councils to be the best corporate parents they can be, and that the LGA is doing all it can as a ‘corporate aunty or uncle’ to children in care and care leavers. We are keen to work with councillors with care experience to inform our work on corporate parenting. Please email Louise Smith if you are able to assist. 

Leadership Programme 

Applications are now open for the Boosting Middle Leaders Programme.  This is a leadership programme which brings together mid to senior level councillors and officers to build relationships, share perspectives, and develop practices to help them to deliver the best outcomes for their communities.  

Dates for the Diary! 

Firefighters’ Pensions Annual Conference – Day 2 (in-person event) 
Wednesday 20 September 2023, 10.00am – 3.30pm, London  

Our popular Firefighters’ Pensions Annual conference is back, our two-day programme allows delegates to network with fellow colleagues and hear the latest news on the Firefighters Pension Scheme (FPS) from the key stakeholders. 

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 this second webinar aimed at elected members we will explore the learning from the Care Quality Commission’s pilot phase. We will hear from a lead member perspective and support members to prepare for the next phase. 

Fire Leadership Essentials Programme 

Our Fire Leadership Essentials course aims to support leading Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) members with their responsibilities, develop their leadership skills and is a great opportunity to network with other fire members. It is open to all FRA members. The next Fire and Rescue Leadership Essentials courses will take place between: 

  • Wednesday, 1st November – Thursday, 2nd November 2023 
  • Tuesday, 6th February – Wednesday, 7th February 2024 

These events are held at Warwick Conference Centre. The course is fully subsidised, including meals and an overnight stay.  For more information or to book, contact Grace Collins - 020 7664 3054.


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