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News round up - 22 September

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

Source: Radu Razvan

Council wades in on Gove email storm

The Financial Times reports lawyers acting for Sandwell MBC have demanded that civil servants establish whether Michael Gove, education secretary, and his advisers used their personal email addresses to discuss the cancellation of a big school rebuilding project and the subsequent legal challenges to it.

Sandwell Council was one of six local authorities that went to court over Mr Gove’s decision, announced last July, to cancel Building Schools for the Future, a £55bn school refitting programme. They sent a letter to Sir David Bell, permanent secretary, on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Independent reports all political figures could be forced to open up their private email accounts after the Information Commissioner’s Office confirmed that information in private emails pertaining to government business could be made available to the public.

 

Nick Clegg

The Times links Nick Clegg’s refusal to call for higher public spending with official figures showing public borrowing overshooting the target set by the Office for Budget Responsibility.See our story here

 

Hospital finances

Patient care is under threat at more than 60 NHS hospitals which are on the brink of financial collapse because of Private Finance Initiatives, the Telegraph’s front page reports. The Daily Mail also reports on health secretary Andrew Lansley’s revelation that 22 health trusts have contacted him to claim their financial stability is at risk.

 

Planning

The head of the National Trust has used the Daily Telegraph, and its ‘Hands Off Our Land’ campaign, to lay out the body’s negotiating position ahead of a meeting with planning minister Greg Clark. The prime minister has already written to the body to promise economic needs would be balanced against environmental ones.

Meanwhile, another potential planning bust up has also caught the eye of the nationals with both The Guardian and the Independent reporting that huge quantities of gas have been discovered under the sea in North-Western England, which could transform the fortunes of Blackpool but lead to around 800 ‘fracking’ wells.

Energy magnates are seeing spinning dollar signs (and not just on the Blackpool pier fruit machines) but locals and environmentalists are less enthusiastic about the project. Fracking, the process by which the gas is unlocked from shale rock, remains banned in parts of the US and France over fears that water aquifers could be contaminated, they say.

 

Other news

  • The first ten appeals against sentences by some convicted of being involved in the August riots will be heard next week. Defence lawyers and civil rights groups have criticised the “disproportionate” sentences given to those linked with the riots, reports the Guardian.
  • London’s 21,000 taxi drivers have warned that the cost of many taxi rides in London could be four times higher during the Olympics when special “Games Lanes” are installed for the exclusive use of competitors and dignitaries, the Independent reports.
  • Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) has issued judicial review proceedings against the government on the basis that the cuts are “irrational and unfair”. Seriously injured patients, such as babies who suffer brain damage as a result of substandard obstetrics care, will be denied the compensation that their families need to provide proper care for them, according to the Independent.
  • The Independent interviews Andreas Schliecher, author of the annual world education review for the OECD who claims the answer to poorly performing schools is to take a leaf out of Shanghai’s book, where coasting schools were twinned with more successful schools in the same neighbourhood.  

 

 

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