Passionate about people and places

I can’t say enough how wonderful it was to be with so many of you in Harrogate for the LGA’s first in-person annual conference since 2019.

For many reasons, the mood could and maybe should have been downbeat, after three years of unprecedented and unpredictable challenges. 

We are still recovering from a pandemic that has blighted our communities and looks set to have a long-term impact on everything from the wealth of our high streets to the health of our residents.

The Ukrainian war is contributing to rising energy costs and a wider cost-of-living crisis that is playing havoc with council and household budgets, and a humanitarian disaster that is bringing many thousands of new arrivals to our shores. As with COVID-19, local government has, once more, stepped up to the plate to help.

Meanwhile, councillors (and officers) face unprecedented and personal levels of abuse as they go about their jobs trying to help and support their local communities, according to LGA research published at conference.

Yet the mood in Harrogate was overwhelmingly positive. Sessions were well attended, questions were informed and pointed, and the LGA Hub and Innovation Zone were absolutely buzzing as councils shared their good ideas and best practice for the mutual benefit of all.

Everywhere – in conference sessions and political party group meetings, at receptions and over coffee (and sometimes something stronger!) – old acquaintances were being renewed, new contacts made, and professional and personal support networks reinforced.

I want to thank all of you, our speakers, sponsors and exhibitors, and the LGA’s hard-working staff, for making this one of our best ever annual conferences. It is an honour to represent people who are so passionate about the places they serve.

Post-conference, we face further (hopefully short-term) uncertainties, with a Conservative Party leadership contest under way, and national government almost ‘on hold’.

But I have absolutely no doubt that local government will continue to rise to the challenges we face and be the rock that our residents can rely on in uncertain times.


New ministers and membership ballots

Focusing on family ties