Outgoing President's Speech at AGM 3 April 2020

Publish date: 03/04/2020

Phillip Horsfield, outgoing LLG President, makes his final Presidential speech at the AGM

LLG President, Phillip Horsfield's speech from LLG's first ever virtual AGM 3 April 2020:-

It's impossible to start the AGM without acknowledging the impact that the Coronavirus is having on our working lives. While there is understandable anxiety around the virus we are driving forward emergency decision making to ensure local stability and support for the sick and vulnerable in our society. The strength of our public services and the decision making is coming under the most severe test. Your work has meant that our organisations have been able to take the decisions necessary to support our communities. I am proud of the public services that our members both deliver and enable. I hope that you are too. LLG remain committed to supporting you both in the effective pursuit of your job, but also your well-being.

Effective governance and timely 'decision taking' underpin every decision that is made in the public sector. It is even more vital now, that no barriers exist to achieving action that is needed to fight COVID-19. LLG's focus on engagement with the government over the last few years has enabled your views to be heard on emerging legislative plans. We are determined, working with our partners, to equip you with the guidance and support you need during the pandemic crisis in order to ensure you play an effective and responsive part in delivering vital services to our communities. We don't claim a 100% success rate but we are clearly contributing to a group effort to deliver what is necessary to enable the massive public sector response required.

LLG want to reassure you that we remain operational and indeed have redoubled our efforts since the crisis hit. We have established a dedicated Coronavirus group on the website that you as members can all be part of, along with an active and comprehensively populated forum space discussing the varying approaches to issues as they arise. We are working in collaboration with the LGA, Association of Democratic Service Officers and the Centre for Public Scrutiny together with a host of other stakeholders daily.

It is with regret that we had to cancel the Spring Conference 2020, but there are plenty of online opportunities to engage. All of us have had to move to new ways of working and how we interact and train together will likewise adapt. We will be transposing a number of the key conference sessions into webinars and rolling these out throughout the year. We are also exploring virtual ways to ensure the LLG Awards 2020 can still be held this year. Celebrations of achievement have never been more important.

On that note, while I will hopefully have the chance at a future conference to expand on some of the following, here are some of the highlights of 2019 for noting:

We have gone from strength to strength, at the forefront of lobbying on Brexit with the Ministry of Housing and Community Local Government. We made great strides in ensuring the government thought through the difficult issues impacting lawyers within local authority and were able to provide detail and context to spark debate and resolution.

Our aim to build best practice in the golden triangle has got off to a good start. CiPFA and SOLACE support our aims and steps have been made to move this forward as a collaborative project. This campaign includes our work on the model code of conduct with the LGA, jointly with ADSO and SLCC, and our work on producing the parish council toolkit to complement the code.

We made strides forward with respect to launching a national graduate recruitment scheme for local government lawyers and have extensive plans for our 'Legal Talent' scheme, designed to capture the hearts and minds of law students who are passionate about their communities.

We are working with Lawcare in pursuit of our well-being aims to promote safe conversations of support with independent people and have worked with Wesleyan to put in place an insurance policy that can assist in circumstances where a job is under threat. It goes without saying that our monitoring officer defence scheme has continued to provide constructive support for those in need.

All of this is just a small highlight of the incredible work being undertaken from contributions on statutory guidance to substantive consultation responses and invited responses to varying parliamentary select committees.

Can I take this opportunity to thank you, the membership, for all your contributions and engagement over the past year. To our valued Corporate Partners for their support and assistance - so gratefully received and to the Directors and staff of LLG for their commitment and passion.

It has been an incredible experience being President of LLG over the past year. I take with me some great memories, some important lessons and above all, some very good friends.

Philip Horsfield

LLG President 2019 to 2020