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Fit for royalty?

It takes a lot to get residents interested in local development frameworks. But could Gateshead Council have devised a means of drumming up enthusiasm for its consultation?

“A taste of royalty for everyone!” its press release promises. “Everyone who lives or works in Gateshead is being asked to imagine themselves as the King or Queen of Gateshead.”

In return for imagining themselves as Gateshead’s monarch revealing what they would do if they ruled the council residents will be entered into a prize draw to win a£200 shopping spree at the MetroCentre.

Cynics may suggest the scale of the prize would not automatically tempt genuine monarchs.

Tune into Devon

Forget the Eurovision Song Contest, Devon CC is taking a decidedly devolved musical bent this summer and launching a hunt for a “memorable and catchy” county anthem.

Deputy leader John Smith (Lib Dem) revealed that the authority had lofty ambitions for its new song.

“We hope to find a song that will have a wide appeal and can be sung in location from primary schools to churches or football matches,” he said.

With£2,000 up for grabs for the winner, LGC has ditched the initial sea shanty ideas and is now considering melody lines for Who Ate All The Cream Teas?

Talk isn’t cheap

Chief executives have had a rough time of it in recent weeks with an Audit Commission report into their earnings prompting a deluge of negative media coverage.

LGC predicts equal opprobrium will be heaped on the Department for Communities & Local Government after a job advert for a director of communications appeared last week with a salary of around “£100k plus benefits”.

It might even come from the hundreds of senior council officers earning roughly the same amount, but with far more onerous responsibilities.

Advice pays

That said, the value of decent advice on communications can’t be overstated. Take the case of Lambeth LBC leader Steve Reed (Lab) who came up with some curious phrases when launching the borough’s admirable new action plan for reducing violent crime by young people.

The five-year strategy will see a series of initiatives including increased investment in youth services, parenting classes and a network of police officers in primary schools.

But, with knife crime making headlines on an almost daily basis, Mr Reed said the plan was an acceptance that “we need to get stuck in and get our hands dirty”.

Cue much cringing in Lambeth’s press office, no doubt.

Sticks and stones

The eco-town programme has resulted in a lot of mud thrown at beleaguered housing minister Caroline Flint.

So far, the government has been accused of trying to illegally bypass the planning system, creating the slums of the future and attempting to make a cheeky profit by flogging Ministry of Defence land to developers.

But Leicestershire-based pressure group CASCET took the name calling a step too far last week, branding Ms Flint an estate agent for the developers.

Comparing a government minister to a profession famed for being economical with the truth, untrustworthy and talking rubbish is a travesty, writes a journalist.

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