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News round-up 3/5: Polling day arrives

Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government

Polling Day

As polling stations across the country open for local and mayoral elections, the Guardian writes that ‘sceptics’ are likely to ‘win the day’ in the ten cities voting in mayoral referenda on the issue today, including Birmingham, Coventry and Manchester.

But the Times reports that those cities that vote ‘yes’ to a mayor could be handed a bigger regional remit with powers over other councils. In an interview with the paper, cities minister Greg Clark says he would be happy to consider the creation of so-called ‘metro mayors’ if the proposal came from and was supported by the wider city areas in question. The paper claims that Bristol and Birmingham  are the most likely to vote ‘yes’ today but says even this is far from certain.

Lord Heseltine said yesterday he was braced for low turn-outs in ten referendums today on creating a new wave of elected city mayors as he admitted there was very little interest in the issue among the public, the Independent reports.

In the London mayoral race, despite polls almost universally showing Conservative candidate Boris Johnson to be on course for victory, the Guardian claims today will be ‘the moment of truth’ for Labour challenger Ken Livingstone.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg plan to renew their coalition vows next week to try to re-energise the coalition as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats brace themselves for the loss of hundreds of seats in Thursday’s local elections, the Financial Times reports. The paper also says Mr Cameron is preparing for a mid-term reshuffle, perhaps even before the summer break, and suggests housing minister Grant Shapps could be in for promotion.

The FT also runs an interview with Mr Clegg, in which he predicts the party will not do as badly as it did last year, when 700 seats were lost.

The head of Britain’s election’s watchdog faces a fight to keep her job following allegations of voting fraud set to mar today’s local and mayoral elections, the Independent reports. As the commission was accused by housing minister Grant Shapps of incompetency in its handling of the Tower Hamlets LBC complaints, the Independent says members of the committee who appointed Jenny Watson as head of the Electoral Commission are concerned about her performance and want her to be challenged for the role

 

Economy

Government plans to stimulate growth by attracting private capital into big infrastructure projects are being jeopardised by a slowdown in the project finance market, the Financial Times reports. Only nine UK project finance deals, worth £1.4bn in total and including a Norfolk waste project and several wind farms, have been signed so far this year, representing the slowest start to any year in the last decade.

The Times lead article reports that Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, has admitted that he and the Bank failed in their handling of the financial crisis. Sir Mervyn said the Bank should have “shouted from the roof tops” about the dangers that were building in an indebted banking sector.

 

Housing

Hammersmith & Fulham LBC becomes the latest London borough to make headlines for planning to move people into rented accommodation outside the local area. The Guardian reports that anyone claiming to be homeless will be offered accommodation “potentially outside the borough”.

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