Group bulletin: 22 September 2023

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

22 September 2023


Greetings colleagues! 

I have just returned from the Welsh Local Government Association Conference and look forward to attending the Green Party Conference from the 6-8th October in Brighton. If you are there, please join us on the Saturday morning 9am where I am with Cllr Carla Denyer, co-Leader of the Green Party and prospective parliamentary candidate for Bristol Central, Cllr Johnny Denis, Chair of the Association of Green Councillors, Baroness Natalie Bennett, former Green Party Leader and an LGA Vice-President and our Deputy Independent Group Leader, Cllr Caroline Jackson. We will be discussing a socially just transition to net zero through local government.  

Apart from the autumn rains, this week saw a dramatic U-turn by the Government on Net Zero and its other key green pledges on replacing petrol and diesel cars and gas boilers by 2030. Following a speech by former Prime Minister Liz Truss, it seems Rishi Sunak is eager to win over the Tory right and reduce his current 20-point gap in the polls, according to the Evening Standard.  

The IPCC’s latest report shows that current policies are not on track to limit global warming to 1.5°C, calculated by scientists as the tipping point where nature cannot recover itself.  

As we know, over three hundred councils are explicitly committed to ‘Net Zero’ and have reflected this in their business plans, funding and staffing, with or without Government support. In fact, the Local Government Association has declared a ‘climate emergency’, offering a wide range of resources and tools to help local authorities combat the negative impacts of climate change. My own North Kesteven District Council has played its own part in reducing fossil fuel consumption by using a straw-fired power station to give free heat to schools, offices and a leisure centre! 

With the advantages of air quality and reduced gas emissions, the aim was for electric vehicles to have as high a share as possible of the new vehicle market by 2030 on track for the 2050 target. “Scrapped”, says Sunak. Instead we have a new tax on electric vehicles and somewhat bemused motor industry.  

If you are a newly-elected councillor or aspire for leadership, please don’t forget to apply to our ever-popular Next Generation Programme. We have just three spaces left and the deadline to apply is Monday 9th October!  

Congratulations to Independent Cllr Peter MacDonald who won a superb by-election victory at Swale Borough Council, taking a seat from the Conservatives and now represents Minster Cliffs Borough Ward as a local Councillor. Welcome to the LGA Independent Group! 

HOLD THE DATE! Independent Group Annual Conference 

The LGA Independent Group Annual Conference will be held on 24th – 25th November, more details to follow! 

SAVE THE DATE! District Councils’ Network Annual Conference 

Next year’s DCN Annual Conference will take place on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 March 2024 at Sopwell House Hotel, near St Albans, Hertfordshire. 

Annual Conference Sponsorship Opportunities! 

At our Independent Group Annual Conference this year, we are very keen to welcome any sponsorship offers to support our event. We are particularly interested in organisations with a social responsibility outlook and/or environmental credentials. If you can recommend anyone, please contact the Group Office 

It was disappointing not to hear any mention of local councils within the State of the Union address by EU Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen. Whilst listing her achievements so far as Commission President and emphasising a “Europe of the regions”, the Congress of European Municipalities and Regions stressed that local and regional governments are instrumental in impacting the daily lives of European citizens. With its unparalleled ability to represent one million elected representatives spanning 40 countries, CEMR is a critical bridge between local governments and the European Commission.  

LGS Pay Update 2023 

The NJC Trade Union met recently to discuss the National Employers’ full and final pay offer. Unfortunately, the Employers’ offer of £1,925 pay increase was not agreed by all the Unions, but they did agree to reconvene within a few days of GMB’s strike ballots closing. You can read the latest about Council and School pay on the Unison website. 

LGA Pathways to Planning Graduate Programme 

The LGA launched this week its latest graduate programme ‘Pathways to Planning’ aimed at those considering a career in planning within local government. Graduates will be placed in a local planning team, where they will work full time for a minimum of three years whilst studying part-time for an MA or MSC in Planning. No relevant degree or relevant work experience needed. Apply now! 

Air Quality Fund for Councils – apply now before midday 29th September 

In many areas, we residents are breathing in significantly more than the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended legal limits, for both, Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) and Nitrogen Oxide (NO2). The Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, 'Ella's Law', now in the House of Commons - if successful, will require local authorities to monitor the air quality, and to take the necessary steps to bring the air that residents are breathing within the legal limits. 

Community Organisations Cost-of-Living Fund launched   

Councils are being asked to help spread the word about the Government’s £76 million Community Organisations Cost of Living Fund to support communities most affected by the increased cost of living. The fund will distribute grants to frontline services that have been impacted by increased demand and support low-income households and individuals.  

Dates for the diary

Data and managing council performance – free introductory training for councillors (virtual meeting) 
Monday 25 September 2023, 2.00pm - 4.30pm  

This introductory session will help councillors to understand data, interpret performance reports, ask the right questions and use data to make informed decisions.  

Personal safety for councillors (virtual event) 
Wednesday 27 September 2023, 2.00pm - 3.30pm  

As part of the LGA’s support for councillor safety, we are offering this session aimed at all councillors to build confidence around personal safety.  

This webinar will give delegates the skills to interrogate and apply their council’s data insights across several key themes. 

Have a great weekend! 

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