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Diary

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Burning issues

As Hazel Blears’ local authority, Salford City Council is probably familiar with the communities and local government secretary taking a keen interest in community affairs.

But it remains to be seen whether Ms Blears supports one pioneering initiative, devised by Salford residents a Wicker Man-style bonfire in which effigies of negative influences in their community will be torched.

Happily, LGC can report that representations of a syringe, knife and an off-road bike will be burnt not Edward Woodward, who met a grizzly end in the 1973 horror classic.

Could community torchings represent the sort of resident empowerment Ms Blears is so keen to encourage all over the land?

Bells and whistles

They do things differently Down Under. LGC heard a tale about a trip made by Sir Michael Pitt to New Zealand when he was chair of the Society for Local Authority Chief Executives a few years ago.

The Kiwis have a tradition of arranging welcoming ceremonies for visiting dignitaries. The former Swindon BC chief executive was surprised, to say the least, to step out of his hotel lift to be confronted by half a dozen Maori clad in warrior costume.

Perhaps English councils could take a leaf out of the New Zealand book by putting on a morris-dancing display.

To the bitter end

One might have thought that chief executive Andrea Hill’s departure from Bedfordshire CC provided an opportunity for Bedford BC mayor Frank Branston (ind) to bury his hatchet with her. Not one bit of it.

Mr Branston couldn’t resist one last dig as Ms Hill announced her intriguing transfer from Bedfordshire which is to be broken up to Suffolk CC, which is also likely to be replaced by new unitary councils.

The mayor was enraged Ms Hill had been said to have played a role in attracting Nirah a sort of underwater Eden Project to the county.

“Nirah came to Bedford following approaches and meetings I made to members of the team behind the Eden Project. It seems extraordinary that Andrea Hill has now been credited with attracting Nirah to Bedfordshire,” Mr Branston stormed.

What’s in a name?

A paper from councils concerned about house overcrowding has discussed the notion of what ‘community’ means.

The National Houses in Multiple Occupation Lobby notes: “The term is frequently appropriated for polemical purposes, to give a positive gloss to a measure which has nothing to do with community in any meaningful sense.”

Could this by any chance include the Department for Communities & Local Government, the Homes & Communities Agency, community kitties and the unfondly remembered community charge?

Buried under plastic

Few people can be in doubt that the planet is about to be engulfed by plastic bags especially not readers of the Daily Mail, whose campaign finally shamed ministers to take measures to stop them being given away free.

But it appears not even the Mail had realised the scale of the environmental catastrophe about to beset Merseyside, if a Liverpool City Council press release is to be believed.

“In Liverpool, for every man, woman and child in the city, 97 million carrier bags are used in a year,” it worryingly warns.

If LGC’s calculations are correct, that means every Liverpudlian gets through three bags per second.

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