Housing Success - Group Leader’s Comment – 5 October 2018

Read the latest update from the LGA Independent Group Leader.

Supporting members in your patch
This week the Isle of Wight and Yorkshire and Humberside Region both hosted excellent events. Congratulations to our Chairs Cllr Ian Stephens and Cllr Paul Culle; and thank you to local members who attended and worked to make these a success. It was a pleasure to contribute to these vital, local conversations with independent councillors. Next, I am supporting members at the Plaid Cymru and Green Party conferences. 

Inspirational Ideas
In encouraging new members to stand, we have seen some fantastic examples of just how much our local councillors are doing for their communities recently. I visited Aspire in Ryde and was bowled over by the range of activities in one building, from a men's shed to music, dance and photography studios. In Yorkshire, John Blackie initiated the Hawes Community Trust, now a £2m community enterprise, running a host of services including a garage, pub, shop and post office. We also discussed fracking, legal support for councillors, devolution and the rise of the Yorkshire Party.  

Back at the LGA
Our board members met to drive the agenda including your comments in the think tanks. On the Safer Stronger Communities Board, Cllr Hannah Dalton will be looking at key issues including domestic violence, unauthorised encampments and food regulations. The fire services management committee, led by Cllr Ian Stephens worked on the pension scheme this week. The Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, with Cllr Julian German will be working on cultural regeneration, as well as parks and libraries and the role of the Arts Council and Sport England while Cllr Clarence Barrett, on the City Regions Board, is focussing on devolution to councils post-Brexit. The rural areas are represented by the People and Places Board, which met last month. 

If any of the LGA’s boards are of interest please do sign up to one of our Independent Group think tanks to contribute and receive updates.

Conferences speeches include our messages
Government ministers have finally broadened from Brexit to talk about social care funding, the apprenticeship levy, housing and serious violence funding, with key announcements made this week. 

The absurdity of councils being able to access unlimited borrowing to build a hotel but not for homes is about to change. I and colleagues have been part of the substantial lobbying effort over a period of time from the entire LGA, councillors and officers in the Independent Group. Find out more about the government's announcement to scrap the housing revenue account borrowing cap here.

Our work has also led to additional investment in social care and other areas along with the long-awaited ban on combustible cladding and insulation. The LGA’s responses to these and other conference announcements can be found here and provide a useful basis for what these mean for members.

It's a busy time with lots of opportunities for you to work with us on national changes that our residents need. At the same time, we are putting in the foundations ready for elections next May. Everyone needs to find at least one good candidate to stand in the next nearest seat. We have a series of events around our countries which you might like to join or host.