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25 September 2020

Publish date: 25/09/2020

Dear LLG Member,

As part of the objectives I set myself for my presidential term, I committed to widening the membership of the LLG Board with a view to gaining a wider range of views and influence in connection with the decisions taken at board which affect all members. I'm really pleased to see the new Member Director posts being advertised and I would very much encourage anyone with an enthusiasm for getting involved in LLG and representing the views of the grassroots members to submit an application. LLG is your organisation and we need your input and involvement to shape and direct how we develop it over the coming years.

Review of Membership Events

On a similar line I have also initiated a review of the annual programme of events we put on for members, primarily consisting of the two residential conferences. Due to Covid we had to cancel our spring conference and we've also cancelled the autumn conference. This has provided an opportunity to think about what we can do in the short term with Covid and also in the longer term when, as we envisage will happen, the significance of Covid recedes due to a vaccination or effective treatment.

As part of this piece of work I'm keen to hear your views as to what type of events you would find most valuable. I am conscious that, although some of us, (including myself), love a good two day conference with a dinner, many of our members don't attend these events for a variety of different reasons such as the cost, the time out from work or because they aren't convenient for people with family commitments. Whilst these events will always feature in the annual calendar, we may want to change the content of conferences but more importantly we want to hear whether there are other types of events which members might find more appealing/relevant/useful. Do you think the social element is important or should we focus on events which include a learning element? Are regional based events preferable to national? We've already had some discussions amongst board members and its clear that there's a wide variety of options and we're really interested in hearing from you about what you would like to see in the annual calendar of member events.

Representation for Local Government Solicitors on the Law Society Governing Body

Another key role for LLG is to represent our members and to lobby for their interests within external bodies including government and the Law Society. In this regard, with the help of Helen McGrath and other LLG members, I have been lobbying the Law Society to retain the two seats we have on their Council designated for Local Government Solicitors. Over the last year the Law Soc has been engaged in a review of it's internal mechanisms and a number of proposals have been brought forward including one to reduce the number of representatives for solicitors in local government. In our view the proposed reduction would result in a disproportionately low representation when compared to the number of solicitors in local government, (5000), and we have a campaign underway to persuade the Law Society to withdraw this proposal. The changes have proved contentious and many feel they haven't been properly thought through and need further reflection. As such, it is possible that there will be a ballot of all Law Society members and I would ask that you keep an eye out for further updates. In the interim, if you are a member of a local Law Society I would urge you to formally express concern about this proposal which smacks of the old days when some Law Society members considered solicitors in local government to be less deserving of equal representation.

The £95k Cap

Lastly, I wanted to draw members attention to the so called £95k cap which has popped up intermittently over the last 3-4 years but has previously not got past the hurdle of legislation. It is intended to place a limit on the financial value of benefits that local authority employees may receive if they are made redundant. The key issue has been whether 'pension strain', (the cost of topping up LGPS pension), is included. If it is included then this provision will potentially impact on a much wider group of employees including those of salaries of £40k and above depending upon length of service. Given the possibility of austere times ahead and potential redundancies, this is a particularly unwelcome and some would say, cynical move by central government. We have joined with CIPFA and Solace to campaign against this proposal.

Best wishes

Quentin Baker

LLG President