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News round up - 12 September

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Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government

Source: Radu Razvan

Planning reform

The Daily Telegraph continues to lead from the front with its war on the government’s proposed planning reforms.

Its latest front page lead in the “Hands Off Our Land” campaign alleges that planning minister Greg Clark  “has privately urged property developers” to lobby the prime minister against blocking the reforms.

The paper suggests that a leaked e-mail, sent between members of the British Property Federation lobby group, highlighted the fears about the potential for the draft National Policy Planning Framework to be junked.

It went on to outline the lobbying work the BPF had done, and included the recognition from policy officer Ghislaine Trehearne the group had now “earned more brownie points than we could ever possibly imagine” through its work.

Elsewhere, The Times also dips its oar in. A comment piece from Jackie Sadek, chief executive of UK Regeneration, says the current planning system allows developers with a desire to build on green fields to “work the system” and calls for the ‘anti-planning lobby’ led by the National Trust to support an overhaul of the regime.

 

Trade unions

The Financial Times reports that Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Unions Congress, will tell members today that they must win the intellectual battle as well as threatening strikes over the public sector cuts, as he forecasts years of near zero economic growth.

The largest public sector unions, Unison, Unite and the GMB, may announce details over industrial action ballots over pensions at the three-day TUC congress, even though talks with the government are due to continue until late October

The Guardian reports that Mr Barber will also call for unions to push for the economic alternative of growth built on green technologies and forcing the banks to lend to small businesses. The Guardian also reports on the TUC’s plan for a 10p per member levy to raise a £2m fighting fund against public service cuts and predicts reforms of the health service and public sector pensions are set to be the major industrial battle grounds this Autumn.

Ahead of the start of the Trades Unions Congress annual conference today and in the wake of last week’s breakdown in talks on public sector pensions, The Times in its leader article calls for the trade union movement to “reinvent itself” and claims that union leaders’ penchant for “political posturing” and “ideological inflexibility” limits their options and negotiating power.

 

Pensions

The Financial Times reports that pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith has confirmed that a rise in the state pension age to 67 will take place in the coming decade rather than the 2030s. The Department for Work & Pensions is also promising a transitional arrangement for the 330,000 women who face waiting up to two years longer to receive their state pensions.

 

New Met Police chief

As home secretary Theresa May and London mayor Boris Johnson conduct final interviews for the Metropolitan police commissioner role this morning, the Guardian says the outspoken Association of Chief Police Officers president SIr Hugh Orde is unlikely to get the role despite being judged as best suited for the job by an official panel.

Ms May will warn the new chief constable of the Metropolitan Police to “avoid the political fray”, the Telegraph also reports.

In “Met chief to be warned to keep out of politics” the paper predicts that Ms May will today appoint the successor to Sir Paul Stephenson, who will be told to follow his predecessor’s lead in focusing on cutting crime and avoiding debate.

 

Other news

  • Almost 160,000 council homes are being sublet, according to another report in the Telegraph. It cites a report from Experian suggesting that the cost to the taxpayer is some £2bn a year. The paper said the extent of illegal subletting is more than three times higher than the 50,000 homes identitifed by an Audit Commission report two years ago.
  • The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has accused the police, government and other public bodies of being in “collective denial” about the harassment - and worse - faced by people with disabilities, the Guardian and Independent report.
  • Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are split over how quickly Sir John Vickers’ report into banking should be implemented, the Guardian and Independent report, with the Liberal Democrats preferring faster action than the conservatives. The paper also reports energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne’s warning to chancellor George Osborne to forget any change to the 50p tax regime if it was designed to help the Tories’ friends in the City.
  • The Guardian reports government adviser Emma Harrison, also founder of private welfare company A4e, has set up a new company with a former civil servant to bid for contracts in a work programme she helped design despite previously stating she would withdraw from bidding because of the conflict of interest.

 

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