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LGC NEWS BRIEFS

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Douglas Sinclair, chief executive of Fife Council, has been elected chairman of the Society of Local Authority Chie...
Douglas Sinclair, chief executive of Fife Council, has been elected chairman of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers in Scotland. Mr Sinclair takes over from Tom Aitchison, chief executive of the City of Edinburgh Council.

Nearly 700 London borough staff took part in strikes organised by Unison this week in support of its claim for a £4,000 London weighting allowance.

Social worker vacancies have fallen by 1.5% in the past two years, despite increasing recruitment gaps among children's staff. Figures released by the Employers' Organisation revealed a dip from 9.9% to 8.4% in the average vacancy rate, but a rise from 11.3% to 12.6% for children's social workers.

Salisbury DC is facing two more employment tribunals this month by whistleblowers claiming unfair dismissal under public interest disclosure legislation. Sue Long and Maggie Delauncey are bringing cases, after they and two colleagues were sacked for making allegations of bullying at a committee meeting. Last month, the council won its case against former environment officer Bundy Riley.

The Criminal Records Bureau will increase fees by £4 next April to accredit care home and school staff, following a 50% cut in its government subsidy. Basic fees will rise from £24 to £28, with tariffs for enhanced checks rising from £29 to £33. The Home Office is consulting on plans to charge organisations £300 a year to register with the CRB.

Risk management arrangements by public sector organisations are improving, with 85% of councils in England, Scotland and Wales having produced a formal written strategy, compared with 50% two years ago.

But a joint survey by the Audit Commission and the Association of Local Authority Risk Managers, says there is still some way to go when less than half have an action plan for implementing controls.

Restaurants, pubs and takeaways are to have separate classifications under a new Use Classes Order announced in Par liament last week and due to take effect next summer. Existing businesses will no longer be able to change without planning permission or without consulting the local community. Planning minister Keith Hill said the changes will give councils more control over town centre development.

One third of women aged 50 and over want to continue working after reaching the official state pension age, according to research published by the Department for Work & Pensions. Nearly a third of men and women aged between 50 and 69 would prefer gradual retirement by reducing their working hours before giving up altogether. Researchers conducted interviews with 2,800 working people, plus a sample of those on benefits.

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