News round-up 21/8: Cameron backs housing sell-off
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Prime minister David Cameron has urged local authorities to “step up” their efforts to sell off their expensive council houses to build cheaper ones, despite concerns that such a policy would amount to “social cleansing,” reports the Financial Times. Critics have warned that the move could lead to poorer people being forcibly moved to less desirable areas, creating ghettos. The National Housing Federation has described the idea as “fundamentally flawed”.
Ministers and Conservative backbenchers have scotched proposals to allow top mandarins to work with Labour to help the party write its manifesto, the Daily Mail reports. Reports yesterday had claimed that civil servants could help the opposition develop policy in a bid to prevent policy disasters such as those that have taken place under the coalition.
The row over school playing field sales continues with the Guardian reporting that education secretary Michael Gove forced Warrington MBC to allow a free school to be built on the playing fields of a former school. The fields were used by the community for children’s sports, but the Department for Education argued that the building would consume only one tenth of the site.
The Daily Telegraph reports that green belt will be protected from development in any further reform of the planning system. It quotes a spokesman for prime minister David Cameron saying: “The coalition agreement commits the government to safeguarding the green belt - that [National Planning] policy framework sets that out very clearly. The policy is as set out in that policy framework.”
But in the Guardian, columnist Ian Birrell argues that much of the green belt is not scenic and performs no useful function, while selling off 1% of it would yield land for 300,000 new homes.
Charity street collectors
The Indepedent reports that tough new rules barring charity street collectors – also known as “chuggers” – from standing near shop entrances came into force yesterday. Although the change is likely to be popular with “hen-pecked shoppers” who routinely avoid the collectors, a valuable source of funding for charities could be choked-off by the new rules, which have been developed by the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, the paper says. Charities face a minimum fine of £1,000 if their street collectors breach the rules, which also forbid standing within three metres of pedestrian crossings, cashpoints or train and bus station entrances.
At least £650m worth of valuable materials are thrown into landfills or burned each year, reports the Guardian. A coalition of businesses and environmentalists, including Friends of the Earth, are demanding urgent action from the government to preserve valuable material, including a ban on reusable materials being dumped in landfills, the paper says. The call comes after a survey by manufacturing company EEF found that 80% of senior manufacturing executives thought that limited access to raw materials hindered growth.