News round-up 18/10: Fresh assault on planning threatened
Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
The prime minister will today announce measures to make it easier for big companies to win planning permission for new developments, the Daily Telegraph reports.
It says that ministers have started a review that “could lead to thousands of pages of planning protections being ripped up by Christmas”, adding that this review will not be based on an open public consultation but on “appropriate expertise.”
The new bill aims to “bring in billions of pounds of investment and create thousands of jobs”, the newspaper reports. However, it says, campaigners fear that protections for the green belt could be weakened.
Education and Social Mobility
The Government’s adviser on child poverty and social mobility, Alan Milburn, has said the decision to abolish the education maintenance allowance (EMA) was “a very bad mistake”, reports the Guardian.
Ahead of the publication of his report into higher education access, Mr Milburn also warned there was no evidence tuition fee waivers were “in any way” effective in helping low-income students at university.
Mr Millburn has told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that universities needed to get into schools and develop partnerships to ensure that young people from poor backgrounds were given the support to get to university.
There was a huge amount of money being spent on widening participation in higher education, the majority of which was being spent on fee waivers and bursaries, he claimed. Although he supported the use of bursaries, he did not see any benefit in spending money on fee waivers.
Money spent on fee waivers should be used on outreach programmes in order to increase the pool of talented youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university, he argued.
Social backgrounds should be taken into greater account when considering the university applications of young people, he also argued.
The Financial Times reports that retail chains shut 20 stores a day in the first six months of this year, leaving high streets with increasing numbers of empty shops.
Nearly 1,000 stores closed in that period, compared with only 174 in the whole of 2011, data from consultants PwC and the Local Data Company showed.
The paper said the only outlets to buck this trend were pawnbrokers, convenience stores, coffee shops, bookmakers and charity shops.
“Council business just got sexy”, writes Zoe Williams in a column for the Guardian. She admits that she used to think involvement with local government “was for people who sought the low-level respect of passers-by they’d never met, and wanted to be invited to judge dog competitions”.
However, she says, the ousting of Cornwall CC’s leader in a row about privatisation and protests about Barnet LBC’s plan to sell a local library have highlighted the important role councils play in commissioning services. “In the regions and the suburbs, in grotty chambers with 1980s lighting, people still fight”, she writes.
Police and Crime Commissioners
The Independent profiles what it describes as a sample of the “motley” collection candidates who could be elected as police and crime commissioner next month if turnouts are low.
They include former Conservative minister Michael Mates, who resigned from the Major government in 1993 over his links to the now jailed tycoon Asil Nadir, Kevin Carroll, co-founder of the English Defence League and Robin Tilbrook, chairman of the English Democrats - who say they would “purge” police forces of “political correctness”.
While the number of people in work in the UK is at an all-time high since records began in 1971, this growth has been largely driven by a sharp rise in the number of part-time workers, writes the Financial Times. The paper also reports that figures from the Office of National Statistics are expected to show a return to modest growth in the third quarter.
Gatwick airport will push for a second runway, and will begin drawing up plans for government approval, the Guardian writes.
Although current agreements prohibit the airport from opening any new runway before 2019, Gatwick aims to present detailed plans for a second runway to the Davies Commission on aviation.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that Mayor of London Boris Johnson has discussed the potential for legal challenge and judicial review with the Prime Minister relating to the delays of a decision on London’s airport capacity.
We hope you enjoyed the above article, to get unlimited access to all articles on LGCplus.com you will need to have a paid subscription. Subscribe now to save yourself £100 off the standard subscription rate.