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News round up 30/9:Treasury looks to pension funds

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

Source: Radu Razvan

Infrastructure

The Financial Times reports £ that the Treasury has entered exploratory talks with pension funds and other institutional investors to see if it can assist in creating structures that would let them put serious money into the £200bn worth of infrastructure investment that the UK needs over the coming decade.

The paper says the move comes as a serious “funding gap” for economic infrastructure such as energy, transport and telecoms is emerging in the wake of the financial crisis, as it also is for private finance initiative projects including hospitals, schools and waste disposal plants.

Meanwhile, the FT reports £ that John Cridland, director-general of the CBI employers’ group, said boosting activity in the housing market and the construction sector could be a key “game-changer” for growth. The paper says that, with an eye to influencing George Osborne’s autumn statement, Mr Cridland also urged the government to bolster infrastructure spending on transport and power stations.

Elsewhere, as part of a special report on how infrastructure investment and industrial policy could boost the economic recovery, the Times reports £ that ministers have admitted that they have “underplayed the importance of infrastructure in the government’s growth strategy” and that it will receive much greater emphasis in an updated plan to be announced next month.

Tory calls for Land Tax

The Financial Times reports £ that Tory MP Nick Boles has called for the Conservatives to back Liberal Democrat plans for a land tax, in a move the paper says is likely to incense his rightwing backbench colleagues. Mr Boles, writing in the Financial Times £, jokes he may be “committing career suicide” by backing the century-old Lib Dem cause, but says the tax could encourage more development on brownfield sites and in rundown inner cities.

£250m for bin collections

The Daily Mail devotes its front page to the communities secretary Eric Pickles’ announcement of a £250m fund to promote weekly bin collections. The paper quotes Mr Pickles as saying bin collections were the “only visible service that they get from the council” and that there was “a limit to what Middle England can take”.

Labour

As the Labour party conference closes, deputy leader Harriet Harman said the government’s policy of voluntary voter registration would results in three million mainly poor people dropping off the electoral roll. The Electoral Commission has said a voluntary system would result in a drop in registered voters to the level of election turn-out, the Guardian reports.

The Guardian also notes that leader Ed Miliband has managed to get through conference without falling out with the unions over their plans to strike about pension reform in November.

The Times concludes £ its coverage of the Labour party conference by reporting that the shadow cabinet is examining a list of reforms on retraining, childcare costs, social housing, salary insurance and a scheme to encourage saving in as part of “a new welfare state for working people”. The drive is part of a bid to capitalise on falling levels of support for the coalition amongst female voters.

Meanwhile, the Independent’s conference diary notes that the on-stage praise for Liverpool as a “wonderful city” can be contrasted by senior Labourites’ complaints about teh “tatty” conference venue. The paper tells the city: “Don’t expect them back in a hurry.”

Planning

Planning ministers “know nothing” and have to be “told the facts by developers” the Daily Telegraph reports in the latest instalment of its Hands Off Our Land campaign.The claim is made by a Tory donor and a developer Mike Slade, chief executive of Helical Bar and chair of the Conservative Property Forum. He described housing minister Grant Shapps as a “kid” who did not understand how local authorities worked.

Meanwhile, local government minister Bob Neill writes to the Times £ insisting the government is committed to a ‘town centre first’ planning policy.

Police

The Independent reports the Police Federation has not met with home secretary Theresa May for six months with even requests for meetings during the riots being turned down the home secretary’s office.

Meanwhile the Guardian reports on how the home secretary’s diary was lost by her protection officer at a police memorial event earlier this year. It was picked up and handed in by a reporter from the Police Review, but not before they had copied the contents, due to be published today.

Schools

Fewer schools will be ranked outstanding after watchdog Ofsted changes its inspections to pay more attention to pupil behaviour, reading ability and quality of teaching, the Guardian reports.

For the same story, the Independent focuses on headteachers concerns about a system allowing anonymous comments from parents which can trigger an emergency inspection.

Meanwhile, the Independent reports headteachers have begun voting on strike action - over pension reforms - for the first time.

Children

The head of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, Anthony Douglas, has insisted that the number of children in care being adopted will begin to increase, the Times reports £.

The Times reports £ that David Cameron is having second thoughts about chancellor George Osborne’s plans to remove child benefit from families where at least one adult earns more than £42,475 a year.

Other news

Town halls spend £1m on “back-patting ceremonies” last year the Daily Mail reports. It cites Taxpayers Alliance figures on such events as the “Loo of the Year Awards”, and identified Glasgow City Council as having spent some £83,000 on various ceremonies.

Elsewhere the Mail reports that Cherie Blair is set to become a “private healthcare tycoon” by opening up a company that will cash in on the Government’s health reforms and set up clinics in supermarkets.

The Financial Times reports £ that Ken Clarke will this autumn announce a £1bn round of contracts for the electronic monitoring of offenders, increasing the government’s spending on tagging by more than half since the last tender was awarded under Labour.

The Independent’s front page points out that the government’s consultation on speed limits is not only proposing 80mph for motorways but also a significant expansion of 20mph limits in towns.

The Independent also reports that Plymouth has put its road gritting team on standby for a harsh winter, despite the current heat wave.

 

 


 

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