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Plans to grant same-sex relationships legal status are welcome but could create a ?hotchpotch? of equalities legisl...
Plans to grant same-sex relationships legal status are welcome but could create a ?hotchpotch? of equalities legislation, the Local Government Association has warned.

LGA qualities chair Laura Willoughby (Lib Dem) said: ?It doesn?t apply in the same way to heterosexual couples, and in that regard it is going to create more imbalance. That?s why the LGA would argue for a single equality bill.?

Members and officers could soon be given indemnity for work they do on external boards and partnerships under a consultation paper put forward by the ODPM.

The proposals would also allow indemnities to be provided in some cases to would cover the costs incurred by councillors defending proceedings under the code of conduct.

Nick Raynsford, minister for local government, said the proposal would make joint working easier.

The government has made £5m available to councils who successfully apply for the fifth round of the Beacon Council Scheme.

Themes for round five include benefits administration, public transport and housing renewal.

Labour has lost seven Local Government Association executive seats to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in an all-party deal struck after this year?s local elections.

The agreement means Labour holds eight chair and eight vice-chair seats, compared to the Conservatives? seven chairs and nine vice-chairs.

The Conservatives are widely tipped to become the largest party next year.

Fife Council has become the first council in Scotland to offer civil naming ceremonies for children and couples seeking to renew their marriage vows.

The ceremonies have been available in England since 2000.

Councils are processing more planning applications at a faster rate, according to figures published this week.

Planning performance checklist figures revealed councils dealt with planning applications 2% faster in 2002/03 than in the previous year.

The government will tackle the blight of low housing demand in the North and Midlands b y injecting £28m into schemes to reverse the exodus of residents.

The funding will provide each of the worst affected communities with £4m to promote long-term solutions to housing problems.

Councils have been asked to help promote new green guidance strategies for small businesses.

The Environment Agency has developed the new guidelines after research showed that small businesses in over 50 industry sectors have a low awareness their environmental obligations.

The Department of Transport is seeking a partnership with two councils to initiate a new multi-million pound project to promote walking, cycling and busses in towns.

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