News round-up 3/10: Rail contract scrapped
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
West Coast Main Line
The government has cancelled FirstGroup’s contract to run the West Coast Main Line due to “significant technical flaws” in the bidding process, which will be re-run, the Telegraph reports. According to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, the flaws “stem from the way the level of risk in the bids was evaluated”. He added that members of staff at the Department for Transport would be suspended over the matter. The government has promised that services on the line will not be affected by the change, the paper adds.
The Times reports that Labour leader Ed Miliband has launched an “audacious” attack on the Conservatives by using his conference speech to claim Labour was the party of “One Nation” Britain. The phrase, repeated 46 times in the speech, was coined by former Tory prime minister Benjamin Disraeli and has become associated with centre-right politics in the UK. The paper argues Mr Miliband thinks his party can fill some of the ground vacated by the Conservatives, who he believes have drifted to the right while in government.
In its report, the Guardian describes Mr Miliband’s note-free, 65 minute speech as “high risk”. In its analysis, the paper writes that Mr Miliband is seeking to shift the centre ground of UK politics to the left, a move which has received the endorsement of ‘Blairite’ sections within Labour.
The surveillance commissioner has warned that CCTV systems capable of identifying and tracking a person’s face from half a mile away may breach human rights laws, the Independent reports. Commissioner Andrew Rennison told the newspaper that there were some 1.85m CCTV cameras around the UK and predicted a public outcry if facial recognition systems and HD cameras were allowed to proliferate on high streets, public transport and at entertainment venues. “The technology has overtaken our ability to regulate it,” he said. “I’m convinced that if we don’t regulate it properly – i.e., the technological ability to use millions of images we capture – there will be a huge public backlash. It is the Big Brother scenario playing out large. It’s the ability to pick out your face in a crowd from a camera which is probably half a mile away.” Mr Rennison is overseeing the introduction of the first official code of conduct for CCTV use and will report back to Parliament in April.
NHS “mandarins” are taking the reins, according to a column in the Guardian’s Society section. In the column, social affairs editor Randeep Ramesh writes that there will be a “trial of strength” between the NHS Commissioning Board, led by the “arch-centraliser” David Nicholson, and “thousands of family doctors across England.”