Harnessing the power of local government

Conservative councillors are in good spirits after recent local election successes. 

I am writing this preview of the Conservative Party Conference on the same day as the Government reshuffle that saw us bid farewell to Robert Jenrick MP as our Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), and welcome Michael Gove MP to the role.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Robert for all that he has done over the past two years, especially in relation to the support – both financial and practical – that was provided to councils throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

On a personal note, I would also like to thank Robert for his regular engagement and dialogue with me and other senior Conservative councillors at the LGA, as well as his attendance at various LGA events, including our ‘virtual’ annual conferences this year and last, and I wish him all the very best for the future. 

Michael Gove is of course an immensely experienced Cabinet member who has held a range of different portfolios throughout his political career. I look forward to working closely with him on housing, planning, levelling up, devolution, local government finance, climate change and the many other issues that affect our local communities. 

Regarding other MHCLG changes that I am aware of at the time of writing, I would also like to thank Luke Hall for all his work during his time as a minister and welcome Kemi Badenoch as the new Minister of State and Neil O’Brien as the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State.

Turning to party conference, Conservative councillors will arrive in Manchester in good spirits following the excellent local government election results in May that saw us make significant net gains of councillors and councils and consolidate our position as the largest group here at the LGA.

As usual, we will be holding a fringe event at the conference. This year it will be in the form of a debate entitled ‘Build back local: how do we harness the power of local government to level-up across the country?’, which will take place on 3 October from 6pm to 7.30pm in Exchange 6 and 7 of the Manchester Central conference centre. 

Following our General Election and local election gains in ‘red wall’ areas, this is a particularly relevant topic and I am looking forward to speaking at this event alongside our LGA Chairman, Cllr James Jamieson, our LGA President, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, and Jonathan Werran, the Chief Executive of Localis. 

The following day, James and I will host the LGA Conservative Group Reception between 6pm and 7.30pm in the Petersfield Suite of the Midland Hotel. 

Both of these events are open to all Conservative councillors and I look forward to seeing many of you at them.

In addition to these events, Conservative members of the LGA’s policy boards and I will also be speaking at a large number of fringe meetings and discussions organised by external organisations throughout the conference. Further information about these events will be circulated prior to the conference.

After last year’s virtual conference, I am really looking forward to catching up with colleagues from across the country, many of whom I will not have seen in person for nearly two years, so please do come and say hello to me and the LGA Conservative Group member and officer team in Manchester. 

The Conservative Party Conference takes place in Manchester from 3-6 October, for more information, please visit the Conservative Party website. For more about LGA events at the party conferences, please visit our website.

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