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DIARY-RODNEY BROOKE'S ENTRE NOUS

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Recently I expressed surprise that Newham LBC topped the league of judicial reviews. Leader Sir Robin Wales (Lab) s...
Recently I expressed surprise that Newham LBC topped the league of judicial reviews. Leader Sir Robin Wales (Lab) says these are because the council has to relocate people outside the borough. It shows statistics never tell the whole story and, like it or not, that London councils face problems rarely encountered in the rest of the country.

The Home Office is notorious for unexpected crises yet it has taken on the job of finding private landlords for asylum seekers.

Is this not a classic case where councils should have the job? They know the local housing market and the landlords. They are on the spot. And, when anything goes wrong, the home secretary can blame the council.

According to Which? half the restaurants in the country fail inspections by environmental health officers. The magazine gives tips on how to improve hygiene - but misses one or two traditional methods.

According to its 1857 accounts, the Oriental Club, then in Hanover Square, bought three hedgehogs to keep down the beetles in the kitchen.

The magazine complains that the public never hears of problems unless the council prosecutes. We could take a leaf out of the Americans' book. The other week I saw this notice in a Lexington Avenue bagel shop.

So why don't UK food inspectors make reports available to the public? Everyone can see how councils, schools and hospitals perform. Why not publish league tables of restaurant hygiene?

The public would find that a great deal more useful than the best value plans which councils send them.

Women chiefs: out of the council into the fire

Only 11% of council chief executives are women. The Local Government Association and the Improvement & Development Agency lost four female managers in restructures. Both now have all-male management. Is this sending the right signal to councils?

The London Fire Brigade is going in the reverse direction. Its shortlist for the director of corporate services was five-strong - all women. For the director of resources, a women was hired from a more balanced short-list of one man and four women.

The Local Government Association is pleased 48% of young people fancy a public sector career .

But few mention local government. The only public sector employer in the undergraduates' top 10 is the NHS, zooming from seventh to second in the Times graduate careers survey.

What caused such a seismic shift? A marketing campaign, that won top marks from the Association of Graduate Recruiters. Who masterminded the campaign's public relations? LGC columnist Carol Grant.

Maybe the LGA should sign her up to improve local government's image. Or perhaps she knows too much about it?

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