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News round-up 16/4: Clegg backs fines for electoral register

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

Electoral register

The deputy prime minister has called for individuals to be fined if they fail to join the electoral register, the Telegraph reports. The fines could be introduced as part of the move from household to individual registrations in 2014 in order to prevent a feared decrease in registered voters, but the Telegraph says the Liberal Democrats’ idea is opposed by Conservative cabinet colleagues.

 

Planning

The government has performed a u-turn on plans to make homeowners pay for energy efficiency improvements when building an extension, the Telegraph reports. The paper also says ministers are preparing to pull back from onshore wind farms, after more than 100 backbench Conservative MPs mounted a rebellion against turbines blighting rural areas.

 

Truancy fines

Headteachers should be able to impose increased fines on parents whose children miss school without a valid reason and the money will be docked automatically from child benefit if they fail to pay, the Guardian reports. The government’s expert adviser on behaviour, Charlie Taylor, has proposed fines of £60 for truancy, rising to £120 if they are not paid within 28 days. However, the Daily Mail reports that automatic fines for parents who take their children on holiday in term time have been dropped because of “fears of a backlash from cash strapped middle class families”.

 

Health reforms

The government sacrificed a core principle of its health service reform to avoid a potential multimillion-pound increase in the redundancy bill for NHS administrative staff, the Financial Times reports. GP commissioning groups were to be given the flexibility to run their organisations as they saw fit but the government is now preparing to tie the groups to a pre-existing agreement with trade unions.

 

North-south economy

A commission into the north/south economic divide has urged the government to go “quicker and deeper” in decentralising policy-making and warns that “the national economy of the UK can only be a success if the north succeeds”, the Financial Times reports. An interim report of the Northern Economic Futures Commission set up by the IPPR North thinktank says the three northern regions contribute a quarter of England’s output and together are twice the size of Scotland’s economy.

 

Blogger in court

A political blogger writing about Bexley LBC has been found guilty of making offensive and menacing comments on Twitter, the Telegraph reports.

 

Council tax rise

The Times belatedly reports on the decision of 16 Conservative councils to increase council tax, as announced by the Department for Communities & Local Government and reported by LGC almost a month ago.

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