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NATIONAL PRESS - ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES

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LAPTOPS FOR ALL PUPILS IN NOTTINGHAM ...
LAPTOPS FOR ALL PUPILS IN NOTTINGHAM

Nottingham City Council will today announce that it is to establish a city-wide e-Learning Foundation which wil lease laptop computers to all schoolchildren who need them - a scheme designed to connect tens of thousands of pupils to the internet in five years. The foundation is a charitable funding vehicle designed by Microsoft and Arthur Andersen, the professional services firm, reports The Financial Times(p2).

PRIVATE SECTOR COULD HAVE SAY IN SETTING BUSINESS RATES

The green paper on local government finance, to be published tomorrow, will say business should be given power to vote on whether councils should be allowed to raise additional rate revenue, reports The Financial Times(p4). The paper will contain a right for councils to levy local supplements to the nationally determined business rate, but only in areas where councillors can gain private sector support. (See also LGCnet POWER TO LEVY 5% EXTRA BUSINESS RATE MOOTED. And also LGCnet'COUNCILS TO BE FREED OF CAPITAL CONTROLS - AND SCHOOLS TO TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR FUNDING').

LONG-TERM CARE PLAN 'DISCRIMINATES' AGAINST ELDERLY

A group of 15 organisations representing older people will today condemn the government for stopping short of adopting the recommendations of the Royal Commission on long term care of the elderly to provide all personal care to older people free of charge. The Financial Times(p4) reports that the NHS plan states that 'registerted nursing time' in nursing homes should be free, but the payment for all personal care should be means-tested. The organisations say the plan discriminates against older people and the disabled.

DERBY RACE DISCRMINATION VICTIM WINS£25K FROM DERBY

Derby City Council will have to pay almost£25,000 compensation to a Pakistani man who was passed over for a job in favour of an Indian man, an employment tribunal has ruled. The Guardian(p5) reports that Mohammed Sharief had been chosen as the best candidate for an advsier's post within the council's equality unit, but just as he was about to be offered the job, the council's then deputy leader, Mark Young, stepped in, because he thought the selection process was flawed. The panel said he was intent on satisfying the city's ethnic minority mix in the unit, which already had a Pakistani man on its staff. The tribunal ruled that Mr Sharief was racially discriminated against. Two other candidates for the post were also awarded a total of£7,000.

MINORITIES IN CIVIL SERVICE TO GET PROMOTION TRAINING

The civil service is to train its ethnic minority employees in interview techniques as part of a programme to enable them to win top Whitehall jobs, reports The Times(p4). Talented black and Asian staff at all levels will be singled out by senior civil servants and given mock interviews, pschometric tests and courses on the latest interview practices at a new career development centre. There are only 50 black and Asian employees in the top 3,000 senior civil service posts - making up just 1.6% of the Whitehall elite.

KENNEDY TO MAINTAIN LIB-LAB COLLABORATION

Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, has rejected calls for his party to ditch its links with Labour in the run-up to the general election. The Financial Times(p4) reports that on the first day of the party's annual conference in Bournemouth, some activists warned that their party risked losing seats because it was being tarnished by its collaboration with Labour. But Mr Kennedy said he wanted to continue working with Labour on a joint cabinet committee, which has produced proposals on constitutional reform and international affairs.

MANCHESRER AIRPORT HOPES TO INVEST IN TRAM SYSTEM

The government is considering giving council-owned Manchester Airport powers to invest in rail franchises and Railtrack as well as other commercial ventures, according to The Guardian(p7). With a£300m annual turnover, Britain's third largest airport is on the verge of taking a multi-million pound stake in greater Manchester's Metrolink supertram system. That will kick-start a£500m expansion, heralded as the biggest public transport programme outside London for over 50 years.

TASK FORCE DRAWS UP PLANS TO PREVENT REPEAT OF FUEL CRISIS

Ministers are drawing up legislation which would put oil firms under the same statutory duty to supply as gas, electricity and water companies, reports The Times(p1). The task force charged with preventing future fuel protests from paralysing Britain wants oil executives to agree a legally binding 'memorandum of understanding' on measures to be deployed in any further disruption. This will also involve detailed contingency plans if petrol stations run dry.

By Lewis Williamson, LGCnet assistant editor

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