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DIARY - TOULMIN SMITH

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Spaghetti junction...
Spaghetti junction

Painting yellow lines on the road seems to have proved difficult for contractors hired by Peterborough City Council. The bungling workmen not only produced lines resembling tangled spaghetti, they painted up to a pile of sand, stopped, then began on the other side.

A Peterborough spokesperson said: 'The lines will be repainted, at no extra cost to the council.'

Don't expect the 'Who cuts your hair? The council?' jokes to die away any time soon.

Cuts both ways

There were raised eyebrows in St Andrews when minister for finance and public service reform Tom McCabe announced his planned cull of senior officers.

Chiefs with long memories say that when Mr McCabe was the leader of South Lanarkshire Council, he had in place a team of 18 directors, more than any other council in Scotland.

A family affair

The aforementioned Tom McCabe may be losing friends in local government, but it's good to know he can still count on family loyalties in his Lanarkshire homeland.

The minister's ally is none other than North Lanarkshire leader Jim McCabe (Lab), who the other Mr McCabe has been heard to refer to affectionately as 'Dad'.

Web of intrigue

Freedom of information has got everyone worried, so I was grateful for some advice at the Solicitors in Local Government Group's weekend school.

Information law expert Ibrahim Hasan quizzed the audience on how to determine a bogus request - would they, for example, answer a request from spiderman@hotmail.com? The correct answer, as Mr Hasan revealed, was to tell him to look on the web.

Stat attack

Three-year settlements sound marvellous, but can they work in practice?

Not likely, say some, given the difficulty in getting hold of accurate data on which to base the distribution of funding.

As one senior source wryly commented: 'The Office of National Statistics can't get population figures right for three years ago, never mind three years into the future.'

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