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News round up - 13 September

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

Source: Radu Razvan

Former Essex leader freed from jail

All of the nationals report the early release from prison of former Essex CC leader Lord Hanningfield, who was jailed earlier in the year for fraud relating to his House of Lords expenses.

Lord Hanningfield, and fellow Tory peer Lord Taylor of Warwick were both been released from prison after serving a quarter of their sentences.

The Independent notes there is no way to ban them from remaining members of the House of Lords while the Guardian reveals the news broke after Lord Hanningfield was seen walking his dog by his local paper in Essex.

A photo of a bearded and upbeat-looking Lord Hanningfield takes up a chunk of page 12 of the Daily Telegraph. Mysteriously, the print version of the newspaper shows clutching a hemp Waitrose shopping bag, while the online version shows him less happily carrying a plastic Co-op bag. Nevertheless, the online story quotes the 70-year-old peer, believed to have been electronically tagged as one of the conditions of his early release, saying he was treated “very well” during his weeks of incarceration.

 

New Metropolitan Police Chief

The appointment of ex-Merseyside chief constable Bernard Hogan-Howe as the next Metropolitan Police commissioner by London mayor Boris Johnson and home secretary Theresa May went against the advice two official panels - one of Home Office experts and one of police authority members - who both assessed the outspoken Sir Hugh Orde as best for the job, the Guardian reports. Mr Hogan-Howe has promised a more transparent era for the force, the Independent reports.

 

Planning Reform

The latest instalment of the Daily Telegraph’s “Hands Off Our Land” campaign drops the bombshell that the government’s National Planning Policy Framework is supposed to mean more development, not less.

It argues that despite being described by the Department of Communities & Local Government as putting “local people in the driving seat for decision-making in the planning system”, the results will be different.

The paper cites comments from leading planning consultant and framework co-author John Rhodes saying: “It’s not meant to be an opportunity for communities to resist development. It’s meant to be part of a strategy which encourages greater development.”

In addition to Mr Rhodes, The Telegraph goes on to name former LGA Environment Board chair Gary Porter (Con), Taylor Wimpey director of land and planning Peter Andrew, and RSPB acting head of sustainable development Simon Marsh as the team who wrote the framework.

Elsewhere, representatives of the business, housing and infrastructure lobbies, including Dr Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce and John Slaughter of the Home Builders Federation, sent a letter to the Times calling for peers to exclude planning from the scope of the new referendums proposed in the localism bill. The bill is currently progressing through the House of Lords.

 

Enfield LBC vs Andrew Lansley

The Financial Times reports the high-profile closure of Chase Farm Hospital’s accident and emergency unit, with well-regarded public policy editor Nicholas Timmins accusing Andrew Lansley of “finally eating his words”. The paper says the issue is a test case of the health secretary’s willingness to back the unpopular reshaping of NHS services. Chase Farm, which will lose it’s maternity and children’s services to neighbouring hospitals is one of at least 20 big hospital reconfigurations due in the next few years. Mr Lansley chose Chase Farm, in Enfield LBC, after the election to announce his “halt” of  forced closures.

 

TUC conference

Today’s speech to the TUC meeting in London by Labour leader Ed Miliband has been heavily trailed, with the Independent reporting he will call on unions to modernise and boost their representation in private sector but also criticise their strike plans. The Guardian notes the Labour leader’s opposition to strikes comes as he attempts to reform unions’ role in the party.

The Times reports Len McClusky, general secretary of the Unite union, threatening to bring Wisconsin-style government worker sit-ins to the UK if the coalition government tightens balloting rules on industrial action.

 

Other news

  • Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s plans to reform the benefits system could be torpedoed by a reliance on “untried IT systems” the Daily Telegraph reports. The paper said MPs on the Public Accounts Committee said the plans risked becoming another Whitehall “slip up”.
  • In a story with the self-explanatory title “Slop buckets ‘fail to cut food waste’”, the Daily Telegraph says a poll of 1000 has shown that using the mini-bins has shown no reduction in people’s perceptions of the amount of food thrown away.
  • A former Labour member of Birmingham City Council has won compensation of £122,000 for being de-selected for his seat on racial grounds, the Birmingham Mail reports. The paper said Raghib Ahsan - who represented the Sparkhill ward from 1991 to 1998 had been replaced by a white candidate following unproven allegations that he helped Asian families jump the queue for housing-repair grants.
  • Ministry of Sound, a nightclub opened in Elephant & Castle 20 years ago and has become a multi-million pound music empire, has written to Southwark LBC chief executive Annie Shepperd to warn they will hold the council liable for any loss of earnings if planning permission is granted for flats a block away from the club. The Guardian says the company believes the arrival of private residents in the area will lead to complaints and damage its business.
  • The Financial Times reports that job prospects in northern England and looking “increasingly bleak” as hiring slows down across the economy. In “Hiring slows in the north of England”, the aper cites a survey of 2,100 employers by recruiters Manpower which said the labour market recovery seen over the last two years had stalled as employers braced themselves for sustained slow growth.

 

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