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DIARY-TOULMIN SMITH

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The government is developing an initiative called Savings Gateway, designed to encourage people on lower incomes to...
The government is developing an initiative called Savings Gateway, designed to encourage people on lower incomes to invest.

It hopes to match savings pound-for-pound and asked the Institute for Fiscal Studies to help to spot any flaws.

A source at the Institute said: 'People could take out loans, double their money and pay back the loan.'

Worryingly, the government had not foreseen this scam.

There was only one valid nomination for the presidency of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

Although Andy White (Lab) leader of West Dunbartonshire was nominated, this was not valid because it was not backed by his own council.

A speaker at the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives conference was poised to tell a joke about the Local Government Association but then thought better of it, LGC has discovered.

The joke is as follows: after the people clad in white suits had investigated the anthrax scare at Local Government House, laboratory analysts discovered the 'white powder' was, in fact, LGA chief executive Brian Briscoe's dandruff.

What is interesting about this is not so much the joke - which is rather juvenile - but the fact that someone wanted to tell it. Unfortunately, the author of this witticism wishes to remain anonymous.

Pat Watters was duly elected president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and his speech shows determination to rebuild the ailing organisation.

The speech, which has prompted rumours of a deal to bring Glasgow City Council back into COSLA, was cut short due to the recent death of a close relative.

But his pledge to return renegade councils to the organisation and fight local government's corner in negotiations with the Executive was well-received.

As spokesperson for the Executive said it 'will continue to discuss issues of collective importance to local government with COSLA and look forward to working with Mr Waters'.

The new, close relationship presumably means the executive will remember to spell Mr Watters name correctly - with two 't's.

Westminster City Council is, in its own words, 'pioneering the way forward in public conveniences'.

The city council's open-air urinals are designed to stop people relieving themselves

in doorways and the installation of two new, fixed street toilets are intended to mark 'a futuristic approach to urinals

in the West End.'

The launch is far from bog-standard, featuring ABBA tribute band Björn Again, singing the 1970s' classic Waterloo.

If you wish to disseminate any gossip, please email me on joshua.toulminsmith@lgc.emap.com

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