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News round-up 23/9: Clark hints at planning concessions

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

Source: Radu Razvan

Planning climb-down

Greg Clark’s speech to a British Property Federation conference attracted attention from across Fleet Street with most papers interpreting the planning ministers’ comments as a government climb down.

Mr Clark suggested there should still be a presumption in favour of developing brownfield land in the new planning system. He also indicated that he would allow councils more time to draw-up local plans, the Times reports.

The Daily Telegraph, which has been leading an enthusiastic campaign against the proposals, reports with glee that Mr Clark has admitted that the reforms are “flawed”.

The paper said Mr Clark, who is in charge of the National Draft Planning Policy Framework, said it had been “difficult” to convey the governments sentiments at the same time as reducing bureaucracy and paperwork.

The Guardian took the line that Mr Clark comments represented a more conciliatory tone despite the previously confrontational line of previous Tory statements.

Public service reform

A stark warning that the government’s ambitions for public service reform will fail without sweeping changes across Whitehall from a cross-party committee of MPs’ also gets a few column inches.  

The Financial Times reports that the public administration select committee said the government had “failed to recognise the scale of reform” needed if it was genuinely to shift power out of Whitehall and into communities, while significantly expanding the commissioning of services from charities, social enterprises, mutuals and the private sector.

The Guardian quotes committee chair Bernard Jenkin’s (Con) warning ministers that they are at risk of being complacent over the transfer of powers from Whitehall to communities.

“Change needs to be driven from the centre of government and driven by the top management in every department, and lower levels of management must be fully engaged in the objectives and implementation of change,” he added.



The fallout from health secretary Andrew Lansley’s claim that 22 hospital trusts are at risk of financial ruin because of their private finance initiative debts continues.

The Guardian says the claim has been laid open to question by NHS performance data rating most of them as financially sound.

The Independent takes a similar line in its splash reporting that hospitals have accussed Mr Lansley of making misleading claims for political gain.


Regional Growth Fund

The government’s high-profile £1.4bn Regional Growth Fund has failed to spend any money on stimulating growth since it was launched “with great fanfare” last year, the Independent reports.


Other news

  • In “Sorry, but that shed is a home”, the Daily Mail reports that Havant BC has banned a couple from living in the shed behind a relative’s home while they save up for a deposit on their own house.
  • The Times reports on plans to give Britain’s top 50 companies direct access to individual ministers with whom they can discuss policy concerns in an attempt to spark life into the economy. Shadow business secretary John Denham linked the need for such a move was a result of the demise of the regional development agencies. Communities secretary Eric Pickles is not amongst the group of six ministers involved.
  • Channel 5 and OK! magazine owner Richard Desmond is to launch a new lottery in competition to the National Lottery called the Health Lottery. Charity leaders criticised the launch as it will give less to charitable causes than the National Lottery, the Times reports.


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