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We are a cross-party, member-led network, providing a single voice for our member councils

District Bulletin: Support for our councils must be prioritised

Published: 2 October 2023

In this email:

CLLR SAM CHAPMAN-ALLEN: Support for our councils must be prioritised

MUST-READS: Our round-up of media and policy highlights for DCN councils

SIXTY SECONDS WITH… Jon McGinty, Gloucester City Council

NOTICEBOARD: Essential diary dates and opportunities for you and your council

DCN EXECUTIVE BOARD UPDATE: What our leaders discussed on 20 September



Support for our councils must be prioritised

Let’s highlight the invaluable work of DCN councils as the finance settlement approaches

Cllr Sam Chapman-Allen, Chairman, DCN


I’m feeling the strain in these challenging times. The strain is not just on my own council, but across the board, for everyone. Inflation has been sky-high, and there’s mounting pressure on our services. I see it in my council, I hear about it in yours, and I sincerely hope the Government recognises it too.

Our objective is to deliver with the Government. In advance of the Local Government Finance Settlement, which is expected in December, the DCN will be lobbying ministers. We’re also planning to highlight our challenges through the media. The goal is to emphasise the invaluable contributions of councils like mine and yours in bolstering our communities. Think about the cultural services, green spaces, parks and so much else besides that is integral to the identity and energy of our towns, cities, and countryside. Our collective effort to nurture and uplift these public realms is paramount, and it’s something our communities hold dear. We cannot let them deteriorate – to do so would be the opposite of levelling up.

Beyond enhancing our communities, our teams are tirelessly pushing for jobs and inward investment. My council’s economic regeneration team, for instance, has forged deep ties with business. We understand, first hand, the unique demands of our local employers and are constantly striving to support them. If we and our counterparts elsewhere were forced to pull back from this work, I fear a domino effect not only on our immediate surroundings but also on the larger UK economy. Our case to continue undertaking this work is compelling, even in these tough times.

A cornerstone of our advocacy, in particular during these daunting times, is our commitment to helping the most vulnerable. Many of you have discussed with me the rising demand for temporary housing in your area. Our proactive approach in preventing homelessness doesn’t only have intrinsic social value but also alleviates the added strain on other parts of the public sector. Take the NHS, for instance – its services would be inundated further if we weren’t here, stepping in. The fallout from homelessness often leads to severe health implications. By investing in our services now, we’re saving costs down the line.

Now, while district councils like mine don’t have social care departments – that’s the domain of our county counterparts – I view care as integral to what we do. We are at the vanguard of delivering care, prevention, and support to those who are hardest hit in our communities and need a hand up.

In essence, our work isn’t optional; it demands funding. I know there are countless appeals to the ministers for more funds from various parts of the public sector. But I can’t stress enough that supporting our councils, which are at the forefront of job creation, job support, care and aid, ought to be a top priority.


MUST-READS: Our round-up of the media and policy highlights for district councils



60 seconds with… Jon McGinty

Jon is Chief Executive of Gloucester City Council and a member of DCN’s Chief Executives Group



What was your first job as an adult?

I had a holiday job running over several years as a photo printer (Grade 2) in the Department for Education. It left me with a valuable life skill of understanding a bit about how photocopiers work, and how to fix them, which has made me popular in the office in later life.

What’s given you the most satisfaction in your career?

One of my early career highlights – before I joined local government – was working as a Government statistician and publishing the Census results on the internet for the first time ever, in 2001. Not only did the website not crash under the huge demand when it launched, but we created loads of other valuable innovations, some of which (Output Areas and Super Output Areas) have stood the test of time.

What’s the most exciting thing your organisation is doing?

We are driving an extraordinary amount of urban regeneration for a small district council, attracting investment, and positively changing the perception of, and pride in, our great city.

What single thing – not money or devolution – could most improve local government?

Being better at sharing great ideas and good practice between ourselves, and sharing spending information to enable us to more easily compare our councils’ performances.

What is your biggest local government annoyance?

The fact that we are not looked on with the same universal fondness and love that the National Health Service gets, in spite of all of the amazing and wonderful things we do in every community every day. And the sheer lack of understanding by so many Whitehall officials about the value, diversity and role of district councils in the local government family.

What keeps you up at night?

Caffeine. Don’t do coffee, kids!

Tell us something surprising about yourself

I took up beekeeping during the pandemic, and have somehow managed to keep them alive, growing from one colony to two, and to harvest some honey most years.


NOTICEBOARD: Events, opportunities and information to help you

Shared services support: Councils considering establishing new shared services or expand existing shared arrangements are being offered grant-funded consultancy support by Local Partnerships as part of the LGA Sector Improvement Programme. Anyone seeking further information should email martin.forbes@localpartnerships.gov.uk.

Leisure services: The LGA is holding a webinar on how the Moving Communities programme can support councils to measure and evidence the value of public leisure services. It takes place on Tuesday, 3 October from 10-11.30am. Full details can be found here.


DCN EXECUTIVE BOARD UPDATE: What our leaders discussed on 20 September.

  • Update from LGA Chairman Cllr Shaun Davies
  • Financial pressures on district councils and DCN priorities for the Local Government Finance Settlement
  • The Levelling Up Bill and DCN’s parliamentary strategy


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