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News review - 29 April 2010

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LGC’s comprehensive round-up of news from all local government’s service areas and disciplines.
NOTE: Click on the headlines for more on the stories.

THE WEEK’S STORIES

POLITICS

Barnet mayor cleared of criminal conduct

Police confirmed that Barnet LBC mayor Brian Coleman (Con), right, would face no further action following allegations that he made an “intimidating” phone call to an independent candidate in the forthcoming council elections. (LGCplus report)

Tory candidate held over Prescott scuffle

Conservative Tower Hamlets LBC candidate Martin Coxall was arrested following a scuffle as he allegedly tried to reach former deputy prime minister John Prescott during a rally in Poplar in east London. (LGCplus report)

Ballot papers sent to wrong constituency

  • Hundreds of postal voters in a Bristol constituency received ballot papers from Bristol City Council’s electoral services department intended for people in a neighbouring seat (BBC report).

FINANCE

Cuts ‘will hit England hardest’

Research by the Institute for Public Policy Research found that the Barnett formula could lead to spending cuts having a disproportionate effect on England rather than the devolved administrations. (LGCplus report)

Finance directors ‘often lack leadership skills’

Newly appointed finance directors are often “poorly equipped to deal with the leadership challenges facing senior council staff”, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy warned. The caution comes as CIPFA announced dates for its leadership academy courses, which are designed to help new finance chiefs understand their management responsibilities.

MANAGEMENT

Councils adopt shared legal services

Councils from across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough signed an agreement to share legal expertise in an attempt to drive down costs. The Cambridgeshire Legal Service Partnership will offer services including planning enforcement, prosecuting rogue traders and food hygiene offences. (LGCplus report)

HEALTH

Lib Dems ‘taken seriously by the health community’

  • Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said the party’s health policies were no longer disregarded. He added there was a need for decentralising power and accountability in the NHS (HSJ report).

EDUCATION

Gove defends ‘free school’ proposals

Shadow education secretary Michael Gove defended the Conservative Party’s proposals to fund parents who wanted to set up their own state schools after Kent CC leader Paul Carter (Con) warned that the budgets of existing schools would be affected. (LGCplus report)

TECHNOLOGY

Creese takes on Socitm presidency

Jos Creese, head of IT at Hampshire CC, is the new president of the Society of Information Technology Management. (LGCplus report)

LGCplus.com/SocialServices

Care home manager struck off after showing cruelty to service user

  • A care home manager who displayed “an element of cruelty” towards a service user with learning disabilities has been struck off by the General Social Care Council. Birmingham City Council employee Angela Turner had been a manager at the Elms Residential Unit (Community Care report).

Concerns raised over lack of social service engagement with youth justice

  • Mike Thomas, chair of the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers, said very few youth offending teams had social workers seconded to them. He said it seemed the one group of staff with the most involvement in safeguarding was not involved in youth offending teams in the way it should be (Children & Young People Now report).

HOUSING

Labour’s housing manifesto

  • The Labour Party published its housing manifesto, reiterating its commitment to introduce a warm homes standard and a ‘new deal’ for social housing (Inside Housing report).

Clegg’s warden call

  • Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said that housing providers should give sheltered housing residents a vote before removing on-site wardens (Inside Housing report).

Shared ownership backed

  • The National Housing Federation produced a paper defending the role of shared home ownership in the face of competition from shared equity schemes (Inside Housing report).

Preston’s homes strategy

  • Councillors at Preston City Council approved a strategy to build 20,000 new homes in central Lancashire by 2026 (Regen.net report).

PLANNING

Green belt land found

  • Improved measurement techniques found an extra 810 hectares of greenbelt land in England, according to the Department for Communities & Local Government (reports PlanningResource).

Cheshire East looks to offload golf courses

Cheshire East Council said it was considering selling off its municipal golf courses in an effort to find £1m in savings through a reorganisation of leisure services. (LGCplus report)

Calls for planning system overhaul

  • Two reports published by consultancies Tristan Fitzgerald Associates and BNP Paribas Real Estate urged major changes to the planning system (PlanningResource report).

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

GDP growth slows

The UK’s gross domestic product increased by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2010, according to the latest government estimates. (LGCplus report)

Tory job plan criticised

  • The Institute for Fiscal Studies labelled as “not credible” Conservative Party policies to fund extra job training places through saving £600m by moving people off sickness benefit (Regen.net report).

TRANSPORT

County opposes high speed rail route

Buckinghamshire councillors criticised a proposal to route Britain’s second high-speed rail line through the county and the Chilterns’ Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. (LGCplus report)

Newport leads on potholes

UK councils are looking to learn from Newport City Council, which experienced relatively few potholes after this year’s cold snap (reports The Western Mail).

ENVIRONMENT

Welsh councils reject recycling targets

  • The Welsh Local Government Association has hit out at plans to set statutory recycling, composting and preparation for reuse targets for municipal waste in Wales (letsrecycle.com report).

Leicestershire to dim street lights

Leicestershire CC is switching off lights at 18 sites in the south of the county, as well as starting a part-night switch-off in six villages from May in an attempt to cut electricity bills. (LGCplus report)

UK leads in wind farm planning

  • Research published by the European Union-funded European Wind Energy Association showed that it takes only 26 months to get wind farm projects approved in the UK, compared with an EU average of 42 months (planningresource.co.uk report).

PEOPLE

Correction: Roger Hampson

Last week’s edition of LGC stated that Roger Hampson, chief executive of Redbridge LBC, was 49 years old. He is in fact 59. We apologise for any confusion caused.

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