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News round-up 20/4: Fresh row over Lords reform

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

House of Lords reform

Government plans for House of Lords reform were thrown into “disarray” yesterday when a series of Conservative ministerial aides said they were prepared to resign their government posts to resist the changes, the Guardian writes. In a reportedly “angry” meeting of the 1922 Committee, four Parliamentary private secretaries spoke out against government plans to create a mainly elected upper House of Lords.

 

Child safeguarding

Times columnist Camilla Cavendish criticises Islington LBC and the wider child protection system for taking a couple’s second child away from them for 18 months despite the couple being cleared of killing the first child in courts. The opinion piece accompanies a story about couple Chana al-Alas and Rohan Wray whose landmark case will “transform the way in which so-called shaken-baby cases are treated by the courts”.

 

Third sector

A champagne reception planned to celebrate the links between the government and the charitable sector has been cancelled  as the row about chancellor George Osborne’s plans to cap tax relief on donations rumbles on, the Financial Times reports.

 

education

The Guardian reports that the Durand academy primary school, which education secretary Michael Gove has praised, paid more than £152,000 to a political lobbying and public relations firm “to ensure positive mentions of the school in parliament and the press.” The article says Mr Gove has visited the school, in Stockwell, south London, twice since 2010, and told Parliament he was “a great admirer” of the school. It says Political Lobbying and Media Relations Ltd, the firm that worked on behalf of the school, said its work was not funded by public money.

 

Crime

The Daily Mail reports a rise in cases of mugging and pickpocketing last year. The article says police crime statistics for 2011 show that “street stealing” rose by 10% and “personal acquisitive crime,” which includes pickpocketing and handbag theft, rose by 13%. It says the figures also show that violent crime rose by 5% and burglaries by 1%, but that “general crime levels remained unchanged.” It says there was a 14% fall in vandalism, according to the figures.

 

London mayoral election

Labour peer and TV personality Sir Alan Sugar has defied party leader Ed Miliband by urging his followers on Twitter not to vote for the party’s candidate Ken Livingstone in next month’s London mayoral election, according to the Times.

 

Heathrow expansion

Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling has made an urgent case for the government to approve a third runway at Heathrow, on the grounds that hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk, writes the Financial Times. Mr Darling told the newspaper that the government’s policy was “in a mess” on the issue.

 

Energy prices

The Independent writes that the Big Six energy companies have been accused of trying to “wriggle out” of their long-standing commitments to help vulnerable households struggling with their bills. Under the Community Energy Saving Programme launched in 2009, they were legally obliged to offer energy efficiency measures for free or at a very low cost to households in deprived communities.

 

Government policy

The Independent writes that Conservative ministers have been ordered by Downing Street to come up with “right-wing” initiatives to deflect media attention from the government’s “budget woes”. Fearful that bad publicity from “granny, pasty and charity taxes” has alienated core voters, ministers have been told to scour departments for stories to put them on the front foot.

 

CCTV

Councils should not use CCTV-equipped cars to impose parking fines in places that a traffic warden could reach on foot, the Traffic Penalty Tribunal has ruled. The Daily Telegraph reports a successful appeal against Southend-on-Sea BC in which a motorist was fined outside his home after a driver of a CTTV car got out of his vehicle to investigate. The tribunal said that by getting out of the car, the driver had proved a traditional traffic warden could have carried out the enforcement instead of the cameras.

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