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News round up - 14 September

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

Source: Radu Razvan

Public sector strikes

Mass strikes over public-sector pensions are to go ahead, despite the Labour leader’s plea for unions not to strike while negotiations into pension reform were ongoing, the Independent reports. The Guardian says Ed Miliband “survived the smattering of boos and heckles” during his speech at the TUC conference yesterday. 

In The Times, cabinet office minister Francis Maude is reported to have said he would be “astonished” if strike action did not go ahead.


Planning reform

Parliamentary advisers believe that the government’s planning reforms, set out in the Draft National Planning Policy Framework could make it easier build on green belt land, the Daily Telegraph warns.

In today’s front-page latest-instalment of the paper’s Hands Off Our Land campaign, it reports that  independent researchers at the House of Commons library believe the framework’s “presumption in favour of development” will apply to green belt land.

According to the Telegraph, while other planning documents from the Department for Communities & Local Government have offered protection for green belt land, researchers believe they would not carry any weight because they are not contained in the framework.

The report quoted a DCLG spokesman said the policy of protecting the green belt “would be continued”.

Writing to the Times meanwhile, Peter Nixon, director of conservation at the National Trust, rejected claims from Jackie Sadek in Monday’s edition that his organisation was in favour of “the status quo”. He claimed the National Trust believed in improving the planning system, but not in changing its overall purpose of balancing social, environmental and economic needs.


Official statistics fears

Chancellor George Osborne has received a strongly worded letter from UK Statistics Authority chairman Sir Michael Scholar, the Independent reports, after he abandoned a pre-election pledge to end the practice of giving ministers and special advisers advance sight of official statistics.


‘Property tycoon’ among Basildon travellers

One of the travellers involved in Basildon BC’s Dale Farm eviction row has a financial interest in a “multi-million-pound” property development in Ireland”, the Daily Mailreports. According to the paper, Michael Quilligan is “the mastermind” behind a 33-home development in Rathkeale, Co Limerick.

The Mail claims some of the properties are worth up to £400,000.


Other news

  • The Guardian’s front page reports on government worries that policies, including those on public sector pensions and pay, are seen to have hit women hardest. A memo circulating Whitehall sets out plans to win back female voters with policies including shortening school holidays and a ban on advertising to children.
  • Questions have been raised about judicial independence as the Guardian published details of two emails instructing magistrates to disregard guidelines for sentencing.
  • Nick Clegg is to announce plans to “accelerate” government capital spending projects such as high-speed broadband and major road and rail improvements, the Guardian and Independent report. The Financial Times says 40 “special priority” infrastructure projects, including high-speed broadband will be delivered.
  • In a letter to the Financial Times, housing minister Grant Shapps said it was misleading to directly attribute the increase in homelessness shown in official figures to the changes in housing benefit introduced in April.
  • The response of social care regulator the Care Quality Commission to allegations of abuse at the Winterbourne View care home was “woefully inadequate”, the health select committee said in a report that found the regulator was failing on its core task of protecting patients and those in care, according to the Financial Times.
  • The UK has more teenagers who are not in education, employment  or training than most other developed nations, according to a new Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development survey. The Daily Telegraph said the UK had the ninth-highest number of NEET teenagers out of 32 nations. Turkey was the worst nation for youth unemployment, the OECD report Education at a Glance said.
  • Liberal Democrat MPs are threatening revolt over plans to reduce the number of Parliamentary constituencies from 650 to 600, the Daily Mail reports. It said around one quarter of the party’s MPs – including party president Tim Farron, energy secretary Chris Huhne, and transport minister Norman Baker – would be affected by the proposals.
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