News round-up 11/4: Labour mayoral revolt grows
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The Times reports that Labour leader Ed Miliband is facing a revolt from his own MPs over the party’s attempts to stop them standing as city mayors, the Times reports. Gisela Stuart, MP for Birmingham Edgbaston, who is fighting for the Labour nomination in England’s second city, described her party as “old fashioned” and “backward looking” for trying to restrict the contests. Senior shadow cabinet members are thought to be nervous about the prospect of a spate of by-elections arising from MPs standing down to run as mayors of police and crime commissioners.
The Independent reports in a local elections analysis that Labour leader Ed Miliband faces unusual problems for an opposition leader at the mid-point of a parliament. It says that Labour looks certain to make some gains because it did so badly when these seats were last fought in 2008, but faces the prospect of failing to recover the London mayoralty from Conservative Boris Johnson, who leads his Labour opponent Ken Livingstone by 53-47% in the latest opinion poll. The report also speculates that the Scottish National Party may gain control of Glasgow City council from labour.
The Financial Times follows up on yesterday’s report of London council pension funds merging with news the move is backed by the CBI, but an actuary warns an administrative merger would not have to happen at the same time as a joint infrastructure fund was established.
Taxpayers “rarely” benefit from public-private partnerships, which are more expensive and no more efficient than government-procured projects, a study by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Manchester Business School, reported in the Daily Telegraph, has found. Professor Graham Winch said the study showed: “The benefits gained from the availability of ‘extra’ finance, the transfer of risk from public to private sector, and improvements in decision-making processes are too nebulous to provide any certainty that they outweigh all the known problems.”
The National Union of Teachers has accused the government of wasting money on “vanity projects”, the Guardian reports. The union has expressed anger over the £337m spent on the academies and free schools programme in less than two years.
The Guardian also contains a lengthy piece reviewing the government’s schools policy two years on, concluding the jury is still out as to the success of the progress. But it warns ministers have no plan B if academies do not deliver.
The French state railway company, SNCF, is plotting an attempt to win control of Britain’s first high-speed railways line linking London and the Midlands, the Independent says. The paper reports that a company controlled by SNCF is finalising details of its bid to run the 14-year InterCity West Coast franchise held by Virgin trains due in at the end of the month.
The Daily Mail reports that more than 800 charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK, have signed a campaign to persuade chancellor George Osborne to drop plans to impose a cap on tax relief. The paper reports that government claims of a “widespread problem” with wealthy donors giving to bogus charities have been challenged by the Charity Commission, which says that it has never been contacted by the Treasury about the issue.