News round-up 7/8: Fresh care scandal possible
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Another Winterbourne View care home scandal could happen again unless action is taken by the government, campaigners have warned. Mencap and the Challenging Behaviour Foundation have spoken of the risks of moving patients hundreds of miles, according to the BBC. The warning comes as the results of a serious case review into the abuse of patients at the private hospital near Bristol are due to be released.
Profit-making companies should be barred from setting up or running schools, the IPPR thinktank has said. According to the Times, studies showed there was no conclusive link between private school providers and higher standards in the United States, Sweden and Chile, with schools run by charities outperforming their for-profit counterparts. While for-profit schools did outperform municipal schools, the report also found no link between competition and improved school standards.
Meanwhile, education secretary, Michael Gove, has approved of the disposal of more than 20 school playing fields since the coalition came to power two years ago, despite a pledge to protect sports pitches from development, the Guardian reports. Figures released by the Department for Education show that the sale of school sports fields continues even though ministers declared in the coalition agreement they would “seek to protect school playing fields”.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is selling off 18 run-down houses to its tenants for £1 each and offering low-interest loans of up to £30,000 to renovate them, the Times reports. The only caveat is that the new owners must not sell them on for at least five years.
Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has played down the importance of Britain’s triple-A credit rating, the Daily Mail reports. Mr Alexander said: “The credit rating is not the be all and end all. What matters is have we got the right policy mix for the country to get people back into work, to support economic growth, to deal with the huge problems in our own public finances.” His comments put him at odds with chancellor George Osborne who has made clear that maintaining the country’s triple-A rating is a fundamental goal.
A year since the riots, the Financial Times reports that businesses in Tottenham are struggling to bounce back despite assistance from the government and Haringey LBC to rebuild destroyed properties.
The campaigning group Liberty has called for an inquiry into claims that thousands of unionised or politically active workers were placed on a “blacklist” that companies used to weed out suspected “troublemakers”. According to the Independent, more than 40 major firms used the database, which is believed to have used information gathered using secret surveillance.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has vowed “revenge” after a lack of Conservative support caused House of Lords reform to be shelved indefinitely. Today’s Independent writes that Liberal Democrat ministers will respond by voting down legislation to cut the number of MPs and equalise parliamentary constituencies, a move that would seriously damage the Conservatives’ electoral prospects.
The Guardian, which also leads with the story, says Mr Clegg claimed that reducing the number of MPs whilst leaving the House of Lords untouched would weaken Parliament, whilst strengthening the executive. Responding, chancellor George Osborne said that MPs would “cross any issues with the boundary vote when we get to them”. Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan hit back at the deputy prime minister for criticising Labour’s failure to support parliamentary reform as “student politics”, suggesting that the Conservatives had “never been serious about Lords reform”, the paper adds.
The Guardian reports that a “little man from the council” nearly “achieved what the world’s fittest athletes have struggled to do” by knocking the Olympic triathlon favourite Alistair Brownlee off course. It says Mr Brownlee received a visit from a council officer after he installed a swimming pool for training in his garden in Horsforth, Yorkshire, because he did not have planning permission. The newspaper reports that Malcolm Brown, the Olympic Performance Manager for British Triathlon, “managed to persuade the official not to take things further.”