Group bulletin: 15 September 2023

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

15 September 2023


Greetings colleagues! 

Writing from Llandudno, I am delighted to have caught up with many of our Welsh Leading members. Of the 22 Welsh Unitary Councils, I was delighted to hear about successes from Plaid Cymru leaders including Councillor Darren Price of Carmarthenshire, Dyfrig Siencyn of Cyngor Gwynedd, Bryan Davies of Ceredigion, Charlie McCoubrey of Conwy, and Independent Leaders, Councillor Stephen Hunt of Neath Port Talbot, Mark Pritchard of Wrexham, Douglas Fowlie (Deputy) of the Isle of Anglesey and Geraint Thomas of Merthyr Tydfil. Every one of you do amazing work for your communities and I always enjoy hearing about your resilience and determination in what is a bleak outlook for local government. 

I was also really pleased to catch up with many other of our members, including those who have served on the LGA, including Councillors Julie Fallon, Neil Prior and Goronwy Edwards. Thank you for the warm welcome and inspiring conversations.  

Welsh local government is having to face budget pressures of £750m in the 2024-2025 financial year with Welsh councils facing budget gaps of anything between £340m - £490m, which cannot be recovered by Council Tax.  

Key sessions at the Welsh Local Government Association Conference were very useful, including an opportunity to question the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford; concerns were raised about finance in future, climate change and equality. I attended a fringe session also on ‘How councils can support their communities through the cost-of-living crisis?’ Currently, 15% of households across Wales are struggling to afford the essentials with one in five people facing hunger. Moreover, there has been a 41% increase up to March of this year, of people accessing emergency food parcels. I encourage you to sign the ‘Guarantee our essentials’ petition calling on the Government to make the Universal Credit basic rate cover life’s essentials, such as food and bills. 

We also heard about how Councils can respond and withstand the austerity crisis by using a range of measures, such as 1) increasing their efficiencies, 2) targeting investments with things that can alleviate pressures and improve outcomes and finally 3) re-negotiating the boundaries of councils which means addressing the citizen vs state relationship. Unfortunately, councils will need to collaborators of all three options! 

I look forward to seeing many of you at the next Green Party Conference in Brighton followed by the Plaid Cymru Conference in Aberystwyth! 

Finally, I am happy to announce our Independent Group Annual Conference will take place over two days this year from Friday 24th – Saturday 25th November. The venue will shortly be confirmed  

LGA Independent Group Executive – VACANCIES 

The Independent Group Executive currently has two vacancies available on its board: South West and North West. Please note to be eligible to apply, you must be an elected member of a local authority from the relevant region. If you are an elected member from the South West Region, we encourage you to fill out an application form. Similarly, if you are an elected member from the North West, please fill out the relevant application form. Deadline for submissions is Friday 29 September. 

Are you on a Fire Authority?

The Independent Group has 8 balancing places on the Fire Commission and we’re looking for our members who would be interested in volunteering to attend the Commission meetings. It only meets 2 times a year and is led by our very own Cllr Frank Biederman as Chair of the Fire Services Management Committee. If you are interested, please do get in touch with the Group Office.

Next Generation Programme 

Don’t forget to apply to join the 2023/24 cohort of our ever-popular Next Generation Programme aimed at newly election and aspiring councillors wanting to be future leaders! Fill out our application form to be considered! 

By-election result 

Congratulations to Sir William Anthony Bowater Russell for getting elected to represent the City of London’s Bread Street ward in an Aldermanic by-election on 7th September! A warm welcome to the LGA Independent Group! 

Low Carbon Heat Grant 

If you are in Wales, please don’t forget to apply for the Low Carbon Heat Grant, which is available to all local authorities, giving them the support to implement low carbon heat projects as part of their journey towards achieving Net Zero.  

Suicide Prevention Grant 

DHSC launched a £10m Suicide Prevention VCSE Grant Fund and is now welcoming bids. The fund will support the delivery of new, preventative activity that can help prevent suicides and save lives. ‘Meet the Funder’ webinars will also be held to answer questions 

Renewable energy good practice guidance 2023  

The LGA has just published an updated version of the Renewable energy good practice guidance.This guide has been updated to help both members and officers of local authorities who are considering asset ownership to understand potential risk and benefits and how these can be managed.    

Latest Climate Change report  

LG Inform has published their new climate change report designed to help councils see climate change metrics in your area, compared with other similar areas.   

Dates for the diary

Be a Councillor information

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. 

There are a range of member events, training and development sessions on the LGA website which may be of interest to our members, including ‘Leadership essentials’ courses, the ‘Leadership Academy’  as well as ‘Councillor development events’ for opposition leaders, young councillors, BAME and LGBTQ+. 

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