Group bulletin: 29 August 2023

View this email as a webpage


local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

29 August 2023


Greetings colleagues!  

Sporting Success

In our schools, colleges and local clubs, young people will hopefully be inspired by the Lionesses success in the top two teams on the World Stage right now. Congratulations also to our athletics team exceeding last year’s success with five medals, including two gold. Our councillors have contributed to that hard work at ground level, supporting local facilities and teams, giving confidence, supporting cohesion, good health and teamwork.

“Everyone should have a decent home they can afford”, LGA.

Despite significant extra £2bn funding we have sought and gained from Government to tackle homelessness, the latest report from Crisis shows 85% of Councils have seen an increase in homelessness. Our LGA Independent Group has argued that the Right to buy council housing at a government-set discount is damaging. Councils should be allowed to set their own discounts in order to better manage the stock. We should also be allowed to keep the money from selling our own houses, not just for the two years agreed so far. Planning changes are now in the Michael Gove’s Levelling-up bill, but much of the new housing is not helping those who need it most.

Tackling Anti-social behaviour

Your area may be like mine where we are losing our Police Community Support Officers, making tackling anti-social behaviour and the preventative work in schools a tougher call. I visited a councillor who runs regular community safety surgeries for the public and helps focus the police attention. The Ombudsman for Local Government and Care has investigated how ASB complaints are tackled and produced a useful report, called Out of order: lessons learnt from ASB complaints including questions for councillors to ask in scrutiny.

Lithium Batteries catch fire

Following a series of fatal fires linked to lithium batteries catching fire in people’s homes, updated fire safety advice has been issued on Fire England’s website. Further resources will be made available by the Home Office and published on Fire England’s website later this month to support local authorities and fire and rescue services with awareness raising campaigns. We use lithium batteries in our phones and other devices and to store renewable energy on a very large scale. I was in lovely Norfolk this week, enjoying the seals and bird life. I was sorry to hear of the offshore Turbine catching fire of unknown causes, just the week before. 

LGA Survey on Hotel Bridging Accommodation

Councils will have been contacted by the LGA recently about responding to a survey on the scale of homelessness presented by the issue. Please check with your own council that it has responded to make sure the LGA has the most accurate up-to-date data.

Supporting our Councils and Councillors

In addition to our fortnightly Council Leader meetings, invitations went out this week for my usual one-to-one round of meetings with all Independent and Green Council Leaders. It is a chance to meet both new and longstanding members and celebrate all the fantastic work you do for your communities. More importantly, it gives me an opportunity to find out any issues you would like me to raise directly with the Local Government Association and with Government. I will be starting a new regular meeting with our Opposition Leaders and will be writing out shortly.

It was great to hear we won another by-election last week in Middleborough! I congratulate Jackie Young who won the Ayresome ward as an Independent. A big welcome to the Independent family and I wish you success in your new role!

We are still taking applications for our well-regarded Next Generation Programme for newly elected councillors or those looking to take on a bit more responsibility. It includes three weekends in Warwick University at the business centre. We cover personal leadership, political leadership as well as communication and media skills. It is an excellent course. Please apply before the deadline of Monday 9th October.

Finally, our NGDP Graduate Megan Kidd recently finished her placement with us in the LGA Independent Group Office. I would like to thank Megan for all her sterling work and especially for producing such an excellent Annual Report which was well received by all our members. I wish Megan the very best of luck in her next placement at the LGA!

Be a Councillor – Information Evening

The LGA receives funding from central government for the Be a Councillor campaign, and each political group receives a budget from this funding to deliver a bespoke programme. The LGA Independent Group will shortly be calling for tenders to deliver aspects of this programme, including training for prospective candidates and raising awareness communications. Prospective suppliers, which can include networks, associations, sole traders, etc, will need to set out how they meet the tender specification using the LGA’s tendering programme Delta. Before applying we strongly advise prospective suppliers to attend the information evening to understand the application process. Please contact us to request a Teams meeting link.

‘Permitted Development Rights’ Consultation

The newly proposed ‘Permitted Development Rights’ allows business premises to be changed to dwellings without the checks and balances of the planning process. This unravelling of planning controls can lead to a haphazard change in the character of high streets and unsustainable out-of-town centres. The consultation closes on the 25th September. If you would like to send us a copy of your responses to the consultation, we will be happy to forward them on to our Think Tank. 

Have your say on Ticket Station Office Closures!

Ticket offices provide not just a point of information and contact for our passengers but it's also important to provide equal access for all. The consultation closes on Friday 1st September. Please do contribute!

LGA Councillors Hub  

Don’t forget to consult our online hub for newly elected councillors where you can stay up-to-date with upcoming events and information sessions which will help you in your roles. Events coming up will include scrutiny and handling casework.  

Leadership essentials   

This is a series of programmes and workshops designed as themed learning opportunities for councillors. Each event concentrates on a specific portfolio or service area or a specific theme. Please do check out what is on offer and for any further questions or queries, please email Grace Collins 

Councillors development events – ‘Focus on leadership series’  

Our ‘Focus on leadership’ councillor development events are designed to support councillors to excel in their existing roles and to provide them with a bridge to senior leadership positions. We host ‘Focus on Leadership’ weekender events for the followings groups: BAME, LGBTQ+, opposition leaders and deputy leaders as well as young councillors (aged 40 and under). To register for, or find out more about, any of our ‘Focus on Leadership’ events, please contact Grace Collins.   

Dates for the Diary! 

The benefits of digital connectivity for local authorities (online event) – 12th September, 10am – 11.30am

These information sessions will discuss the benefits of digital connectivity, provide useful information for supporting the rollout of digital infrastructure and provide an opportunity to answer questions. Each webinar will focus on a different theme or topic related to digital connectivity and will feature industry experts as well as officers from local authorities.

Election matters: Introducing the new digital campaigning imprints regime – Tuesday 17th October, 2pm – 3.30pm

This session, primarily aimed at councillors but will be of interest to those working in electoral services, will briefly explore the reasons for the introduction of digital imprints and how the new regime will work in practice.

The Local Government Association continue to host a wide range of events for all our elected members to help them in their roles as Councillors. Please do check what’s on offer! 


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