Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
An audit of more than 100 of the new Post Office Local branches by the Consumer Focus watchdog has revealed shortcomings, the Times reports. The audit of the branches, which are provided by shop staff in convenience stores of petrol stations, found inconsistent and often inaccurate advice on services and prices, incorrectly sold postage and a refusal to take large or heavy parcels.
Public Sector Protests
The Guardian reports that 30,000 police officers are estimated to have joined a protest against cuts in London yesterday. The story says 20,000 prison officers are also estimated to have joined the “day of action”.
The Independent reports union leaders saying more than 400,000 workers across the country took some form of industrial action against public sector cuts and pension reform plans. The government has condemned the action as “futile”, and has pledged to continue to press ahead with its controversial reforms.
Meanwhile, London bus drivers are threatening to strike unless they are rewarded for working during the Olympic games this summer, the Times reports.
Today’s Daily Telegraph reports that under-performing civil servants will be “identified and fired” under plans to rank all government officials by ability. The paper reports that prime minister David Cameron is growing “increasingly impatient” with institutional failures and with ministers complaining privately about regularly receiving “useless” advice from civil servants. Under proposals, government department managers would be “forced” to rate employees under a more rigorous assessment regime.
Today’s Guardian reports that education secretary Michael Gove has criticised the dominance of the “public schoolboy” in every prominent role in British society as “morally indefensible”. Speaking at Brighton College yesterday, Mr Gove said the sheer scale of privately educated individuals in positions of power in business, politics, media, comedy, sport and music was symbolic of a “deep problem in our country”. Mr Gove attempted to use the speech to justify the government’s education reforms, which were helping more schools prove that “destination need not be destiny”.
Meanwhile, the paper also reports on comments by Chief Inspector of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw who has suggested that teachers do not know the meaning of stress. The comments come as tensions between teaching unions and the Ofsted head have grown in recent weeks, with the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) criticising Mr Wilshaw’s “bullyboy tactics”. General secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) Mary Bousted said that Ofsted was “part of the problem with its continual changing of inspections goal posts and ridiculous demands for lessons to be exciting at all times.”
The Guardian reports that a parliamentary advisory group has warned spending cuts are “putting lives at risk on Britain’s roads.” It says a report by the parliamentary advisory council for transport safety found 65% of local authorities have cut road safety budgets in the past year.