News round-up 26/7: Scottish elections criticised
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The Electoral Reform Society has called on Scottish ministers to ‘get a grip’ of local elections after it found “huge inconsistencies” in how councils publish data and unnecessary delays in getting an official figure for the turnout for the 3 May elections, the Guardian reports.
Following the publication of figures showing GDP had contracted by 0.7% in the second quarter of this year, chancellor George Osborne came under pressure from City figures, business leaders and opposition politicians to re-think his austerity strategy, the Guardian reports. The Bank of England is expected to embark on further emergency measures to stimulate the economy in the autumn, the paper suggests.
The Guardian also reports that economists have suggested that the Olympic Games could pull Britain out of recession, whilst warning that any economic boost would be short-lived. Capital Economics say the influx of sporting fans and associated domestic spending could help lift UK GDP by 0.3% in the coming weeks, pushing growth in the third quarter to 0.8%.
Leading bond investors have warned that the deepening recession could cost the UK its “cherished” triple-A credit rating, the Financial Times writes. Greater-than-expected contraction was “confounding” Mr Osborne’s austerity programme, and could encourage the Moody’s ratings agency to downgrade the UK’s rating, the paper warns.
Meanwhile, prime minister David Cameron is expected to “plead” with business leaders today to invest in Britain, as he attempts to use the Olympics to haul the country out of recession, the Times reports. Mr Cameron will make his pitch before 180 chief executives of the world’s leading companies today.
A row within the government over energy policy is set to resume this summer after energy secretary Ed Davey signalled yesterday that it would be “presumptuous” to rule out carbon pollution targets for the electricity sector, the Financial Times reports. A 2030 electricity carbon target has emerged as a point of disagreement between leading Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, the paper reports.
Freedom of Information
Former prime minister Tony Blair has been criticised by MPs for failing to cooperate with a parliamentary inquiry into the effectiveness of the Freedom of Information Act, the Guardian reports. Mr Blair refused to respond to a Commons justice select committee inquiry on the matter, following remarks in his autobiography that suggested he regretted bringing in the Act during his first term in office.
Southampton City Council must stop recording passengers’ and drivers’ conversations in its taxis, a watchdog said. The Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said the council had “gone too far” in its desire to ensure people’s safety, the Independent reports.
More than 2,000 four- and five-year-olds were excluded from school last year for committing acts of violence or disrupting lessons, equivalent to 89 children excluded a day. The Indepedent said the statistics add to growing evidence of poor and often violent behaviour creeping into the primary school classroom.