Group bulletin: 30 October 2023

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local government association - independent group

Group bulletin

30 October 2023


Greetings colleagues,

As the autumnal weather sets in, we look forward to a November with many exciting member events! I was very happy to meet online with Plaid Cymru Leader, Llinos Medi who is also standing for Parliament. In Boston, I met in person with Anne Dorrian of Boston and her Independent team of Councillors who are making significant improvements to create a more responsive and inclusive council.

A first!

For the first time, our group feels big enough and confident enough to hold a conference of our own over two days. The Independent Group Conference is a great opportunity to meet, discuss important issues and take opportunities that the LGA can do for you. Please do book your place at the Conference taking place at Wyboston Lakes Resort from 24 – 25 November.

Our own White Paper on the Future of Local Government

It was fantastic to see so many of our members involved in our boards, our peers, our executive and our council leaders at our weekender in Warwick. We had deep discussions thinking about and laying out what’s important for the future of local government, setting our agenda in this time of change. We will be getting your ideas at the annual conference and incorporating them into the LGA’s emerging White Paper. This sets out what we think is important for a new Government. While this will be part of a cross-LGA paper, we will also be producing our own report from the weekend. Getting everyone together is so worthwhile, sharing of ideas, networking and getting support, and we are looking for a big attendance at what is shaping up to be a very special November event – a first for our growing group!

Four-day week?

In other news, the Government has made clear that following the example of South Cambridgeshire District Council which has trialled a four day working week, it will not allow other councils to follow suit and has threated councils who ignore government guidance. We all know councils are suffering with recruitment and retention issues, which is why we must all think of innovative ways to retain, train and develop our excellent, hard-working council officers. It is up to councils themselves whether they wish to trial a four day working week but we do welcome your feedback and case studies from other councils you know have done this.

In closing, your Chief Executives will have received a letter this week providing updates on the overall next steps on the ‘Office for Local Government’ (Oflog) and the Government is currently seeking views on the next set of draft metrics for the Local Authority Data Explorer. Please take a read of the letter and the proposed metrics, and submit any written comments and suggestions by 22 November to Oflog.

Nominations for the Clarence Barrett Award 2023

The Clarence Barrett Award is our highest award presented to LGA Independent Group Members. The award is in memory of our dearly missed former Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Association colleague. The Award recognises those councillors who go above and beyond in their work, to contribute something significant to local government and residents. We will be presenting this award at the LGA Independent Group Annual Conference Dinner on Friday 24 November at Wyboston Lakes. To nominate someone for this award please complete the form by 10am on Monday 13 November.

Councillors experiencing threats from the public

As you know, Councillor Marianne Overton has been leading as Chair of the Civility in Public Life programme. Unfortunately, we know that it can occur that our members are subjected to serious threats from the general public, including stalking. We are working with the LGA to ask the Home Office to include councillors in their ‘Defending Democracy Programme’, which currently only provides funding for MPs. If you have any experiences you would be willing to share, please get in touch with us.

New laws to speed up planning, building homes and level-up

The Government’s levelling up bill became law from yesterday, bringing together a range of new regulations to further Government’s control over local government. With a thank you to our Vice-President Baroness Natalie Bennett for continuing to fight for the bill to include councillors being able to attend council meetings remotely as an option, which would have supported many of our councillors struggling with disabilities, the Lords had to concede on this last issue.

DCN Homelessness Event

DCN is teaming up with Eastbourne Borough Council to co-host a cross-party emergency homelessness summit, focusing on the social and financial impact of the unprecedented demand for temporary accommodation. It takes place remotely on Tuesday 31 October from 9.30am to 11am. To attend please email the District Councils Network.

New campaign for care leavers

As this year’s National Care Leavers’ Week kicked off this week, the LGA launched our new campaign, ‘Step Ahead’, urging all our member councils to get involved and to sign up to the Care Leaver Covenant. Our case study page also showcases some of the great support councils have provided for care leavers. If you would like to get involved in the campaign and share your council’s story, please email Amelia Sutton.

Cyber security briefings for councillors

The City of London Police is running two cyber security briefings for councillor on 13 November and 15 November. The briefing will provide impartial and practical cyber security advice, including examples of current threats relevant to councillors with a range of cyber security experience and options to make them more secure. Please sign up for one of the pilot sessions, so we can know whether to run it again in the future.

Sign up to the 13 November cyber security briefing

Sign up to the 15 November cyber security briefing

Personal safety for councillors events

A free personal safety for councillors webinar will take place on 30 November. Councils can also request workshops on personal safety or online safety for councillors through our grant funded civility support offer, for more details see the Civility hub.

Call for evidence of abuse and intimidation

The LGA’s Call for evidence of abuse and intimidation of councillors by the public remains open. If councillors are experiencing abusive and threatening incidents please encourage them to share their experiences through our civility in public life survey. This helps us to better understand the issues affecting councillors at the moment and working to address them at a national level.

Happy Halloween!

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
Councillor Marianne Overton MBE signature