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Diary

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A round-up of the unusual or funny going-ons in the world of local government.

Unlucky Luke

Congratulations to Hackney LBC councillor Luke Akehurst who has been shortlisted for UK consultant of the year in the Public Affairs News awards.

In his day job as a lobbyist for PR agency Weber Shandwick, Cllr Akehurst (Lab) advised Shropshire CC in its successful bid to go for unitary status as well as Devon CC and Suffolk CC in their “successful campaigns, against the political odds, to fend off unitary bids from Exeter and Ipswich”, his nomination reads.

With the latter two counties now likely to be dismantled at the hands of the Boundary Committee, it sadly seems not all the fruits of Cllr Akehurst’s work will be long lasting.

Good luck, Luke.

Birthday honours

Being a title that always backs the local government horse, LGC is also rooting for Giles Roca and his public affairs team at Essex CC, who have received a couple of nominations in the same awards.

Thanks to their efforts, Essex has rarely been out of the news pages for its campaign to keep post offices open.

Also destined for success will be the Local Government Information Unit, which would have surely been a dead-cert for think tank of the year, even without the soft lobbying being applied by some of the group’s officers.

As an email drumming up votes states, the accolade would be a fitting way of the LGIU celebrating its 25th birthday.

Spoilt for choice

It is rare for anyone to express sympathy for the husband of housing minister Caroline Flint, previously voted Westminster’s sexiest woman.

But hubby Phil, who runs her Don Valley constituency office, might have been somewhat surprised when she was last week asked for her opinion on Westminster’s sexiest man. “Goodness so many to choose from!” the minister exclaimed.

LGC had previously failed to notice Westminster’s bounty of manly riches.

Sign of the times

From the Roaring Twenties through the Swinging Sixties to the Age of Aquarius, a damned snappy name is crucial for any period worth being alive in.

Sad, then, that our current time lacks anything better than the Noughties to describe it.

Fortunately the Local Government Association’s environment board chairman Paul Bettison (Con), has come to the rescue.

“The days of the clingfilm coconut must come to an end,” he implored in an anti-packaging rant last week.

Diary reckons “If you can remember the days of the clingfilm coconut, you weren’t really there” has a bit of a ring to it.

Euro backlash

Has Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally stumbled across a cunning plan to stem the blue Conservative tide engulfing town halls across the land?

The announcement of the consultation into whether next year’s European and local elections should be held on the same day could herald the UK Independence Party putting up council candidates, offering the local electorate an additional choice.

As Euro-sceptic voters are likely to have otherwise plumped for the Conservatives, the Tory vote could well be hit.

And a government “committed to localism”, could well inspire the local electorate to vote on European issues.

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