The most important elections you have never heard of

Today, Liberal Democrat Councillors in England and Wales will be getting an e-mail to vote in the elections for a number of positions on the Liberal Democrat Group on the Local Government Association (LGA). These include the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group (also a Vice Chair of the LGA), Deputy Leader and a number of members of LGA Boards. A full list can be found here.

All of the positions receive an allowance, ranging from £36,769 for Group Leader to £2,919 for Board members.

The most interesting and important contests to my mind are those for Group Leader and Deputy Leader.

For Group Leader, incumbent Howard Sykes, Leader of our Group on Oldham Council is being opposed by Joe Harris, Leader of Cotswolds District Council. Howard is running on his record and as “the strong, no nonsense voice we need at the heart of the LGA and at the heart of the Party, one that has the best chance of delivering success” and is also relying on a number of endorsements from other Councillors. Joe is running as the change candidate promising “Fresh leadership and New Energy” with a 3 pronged plan for “turbo charging Communications, “Listening to you and Hearing you “ and ”Championing under represented groups”.

For Deputy Leader the competition is between Bridget Smith, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council and Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council. Bridget is running on a joint ticket with Howard and has emphasised her experience beating the Tories and of cross Party working, which is very important on the LGA. Stephen is standing to ensure the party hierarchy recognises the importance of councillors, embeds councillors in the Party’s decision making and to ensure our values are promoted within the LGA.

As an ordinary councillor it’s a challenging election. I know one candidate a bit but very little about the others. I would love to see a hustings for the two key roles but when I asked ALDC and the LGA Group neither were willing to organise one. I think it will come down to how much people want change. Those who are happy with the way things are done at the moment will vote for Howard and Bridget on their joint ticket: those who think things should be done differently will vote for Joe and Stephen. We don’t have long to wait – ballots close on 21 June and results will be announced by 25 June.

* Simon McGrath is a councillor in Wimbledon and a member of the board of Liberal Reform.

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This entry was posted in Local government and News.


  • Thanks for this write-up Simon. We can all agree these elections need more coverage!

    If Councillors or members would like to know more about why I’m standing please take 2 minutes to watch my video.

  • Brad Barrows 7th Jun '21 - 11:52am

    £36,769 for Group Leader? For that kind of money I assume this position requires a commitment of 3 or 4 days per week.

  • David ROGERS 8th Jun '21 - 8:03am

    Thank you for drawing attention to these LGA Lib Dem group elections Simon – and for the key point you make that cross-party working is an extremely important aspect of how the LGA operates. This is why its position on behalf of ALL local authorities in England and Wales has become increasingly respected over nearly a quarter of a century since it came into being by the amalgamation of the previous associations of different types of council (districts, counties, and metropolitan areas). Its lobbying of Government, its working with charities and other national representative bodies, and the media profile of these activities has grown significantly over the years. I was there from the beginning, including as a member of what was then the Social Affairs and Health Executive, and then as Chair of the Community Wellbeing Board for most of the decade before I retired from local government eight years ago. It was a very worthwhile experience, and I am delighted to see the enthusiasm and healthy competition to play a part in the Liberal Democrat team on display for this round of internal elections. Our thanks are due to all Lib Dem councillors standing today, and our good wishes for their term of office should go to those who succeed. And Brad Burrows – yes all these positions require significant commitment, especially the more senior ones, and the remuneration is set accordingly.

  • Simon McGrath 8th Jun '21 - 10:29am

    Thanks David – that’s really intersting

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