It has been a summer break we needed, but in the shadow of dreadful disasters in Haiti and Greece, and terror and sadness in Afghanistan.
The Afghanistan chapter of the war, which started 20 years ago with 9/11, ends for us. Can a new, gentler regime be formed where women and children take their place as citizens in a land wracked with hurt, hate, weapons and poverty?
This week I met an English Red Cross woman working with Taliban women for years and hoping to continue. The voluntary sector is vital, giving support that also helps keep us safe.
“Local government will contribute and shape the outcomes to secure a better future”
Councils will be assisting where we can, searching for accommodation and essential support for refugee families of those who have worked with the British troops.
Looking forward, there is important and far-reaching legislation going through Parliament this autumn, including the very contentious planning proposals. You can join the conversations developing policy and influencing our vice-presidents in Parliament through our think tanks.
I hope to see you at our hybrid group conference on 29 October. It is just before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November in Glasgow, and will be where local government will contribute and shape the outcomes to secure a better future.
Finally, on behalf of the Independent Group executive, our thoughts go to the family, friends and colleagues of two of our group councillors who passed away recently – Cllr Robert Foote, of Epsom and Ewell Borough Council, and Councillor John Clark, Chair of Ryedale District Council’s Policy and Resources Committee.