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News round-up 19/7: MPs back minimum alcohol price

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

Health

A report published by the health select committee today will suggest that the government is too close to the drinks industry and needs to adopt a tougher approach to alcohol-related health problems, the Independent reports. The committee calls for an independent review of the government’s “responsibility deal” with drinks manufacturers.

The MPs want ministers to undertake a “serious examination” of the possibility of introducing a version of the Loi Évin, passed in France in 1991, which bans alcohol advertising on TV and in cinemas, and stops drinks producers from sponsoring cultural or sporting events, the Guardian reports. And they welcomed the government’s embrace of minimum unit pricing of alcohol, a move backed by many medical bodies. The fact that Scotland is doing the same and setting the price there at 50p a unit means “practical arguments” favour the same price in England in order to deter a cross-border drinks trade.

 

Austerity

David Cameron has admitted that austerity measures in the UK will last until 2020, the Daily Telegraph writes in its lead story. The prime minister made the remarks in an interview published in the paper today, in which he discusses the possibility of a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the EU and the likelihood of the coalition lasting until 2015.

Councils are starting to charge for admission to children’s centres that should be free, the Times reports. One in five Sure Start centres has started charging parents for sessions that used to be free, a study by the charity 4Children has found.

 

Troubled families

Guardian columnist Zoe Williams writes that the government’s troubled families programme is “divisive and dishonest.” In claiming that there are 120,000 troubled families, she writes, the coalition is “conflating criminality, undesirability, poverty and illness.” Discussing Louise Casey’s recent report based on interviews with 16 families, she criticises “government advisers who swoop in for a couple of hours to peer at the destitute.” She writes: “Precisely how Louise Casey came to collude in a process so divisive and dishonest I don’t know; I hope she was tricked into it.”

 

Education

One of the coalition government’s flagship free schools has collapsed just weeks before it was due to open, due to a lack of demand from parents, the Guardian reports. The Newham Free Academy in East London, which had been preparing to open in September, has withdrawn from the free schools programme, ministers have confirmed.

But Toby Young, the commentator and author who set up a free school in west London, says the schools should be allowed to make a profit in order to attract new entrants to the market, the Times reports.

 

Transport

The government is taking the first steps towards charging motorists a toll to use an existing road, under plans announced by transport secretary Justine Greening, the Guardian reports. The plans, which cover the A14, will see tolls introduced as part of a solution to tackle long-term congestion on Britain’s roads.

The Financial Times puts these plans in the context of the government’s “push to attract investment” in infrastructure.

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