News round-up 14/8: Independents pan police elections
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Police commissioner elections
Speaking on the Today programme, Ann Barnes, an independent Police Commissioner candidate for Kent said that more support should be given to independent candidates in order to allow them to carry out mailshots. Money and “foot soldiers” would be available to party affiliated candidates, she argued, and it is “perverse, unjust and not democratic” that support is not provided to independent candidates in order to allow them free mailshots. Later in the programme, Nick Herbert, policing and criminal justice minister, said that a free mailshot would increase the expense of the Police Commissioner elections by between £25m and £30m. Mr Herbert asserted that police commissioner candidates would be able to gain exposure through the local media and other forms of social media. Declining to predict the level of voter turnout for the elections, he said any level would increase the legitimacy of the process.
With the government targeting rules requiring private housebuilders to incorporate social housing into big projects, the Financial Times reports that a plan drawn up by Oliver Letwin, the prime minister’s head of policy along with housing minister Grant Shapps and chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander will be announced next month that would boost building by using the government balance sheet, rather than by putting money upfront. As part of the complex set-up, housing associations would then fill the gap, in return for a government guarantee on their bonds, lowering the borrowing costs.
The Times reports on the Taxpayers’ Alliance latest examination of council spending on air travel. Councils in the north-east spent £500,000 on airfare in the last three years, the pressure group claims. Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said overseas travel was necessary to attract foreign investment.
A rift with home secretary Theresa May is blamed as the reason for Dame Helen Ghosh’s departure as permanent secretary of the Home Office. The Times speculates that relations between the two suffered after the row that led to the sacking of Brodie Clark as head of the UK Border Agency last November.
In an exclusive interview with the Independent, defence secretary Phillip Hammond admitted that the G4S security failings had made him realise the limits of the private sector. “I’m learning that the application of the lean commercial model does not have relevance in areas of the MoD” he told the paper. The statement comes as the government plans radical changes to the Armed Forces, including swingeing cuts.