Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Reforms to the planning system announced by communities secretary Eric Pickles yesterday have been given a lukewarm reception by house builders, the Financial Times reports. Stewart Basely, executive chairman of the House Builders Federation, welcomed the proposals but said that lack of demand, amid a shortage of affordable mortgages, was the real blockage to home building.
With requirements on developers to build affordable homes being scrapped, the Times reports that the National Housing Federation has criticised the plan, claiming that it would result in 35,000 fewer affordable homes being built each year, writes the paper. In addition, LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell (Con), has argued that scrapping 106 section agreements would also negatively impact upon road-building and the development of new schools.
Meanwhile the Guardian reports that the Labour Party has described the plans as “a bombshell that threatens local decision-making on planning.” However, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg argued that the measures would not have a negative impact as the government would also be funding the building of 15,000 affordable homes, the paper adds.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the “extension free-for-all” created by the government’s relaxation of planning laws “could lead to more disputes between neighbours and an increase in eyesore developments.” In a column for the newspaper, Country Life editor Clive Aslet writes that the plan will lead to “suburban war.”
General Secretary of Unite Len McCluskey has said that he expects a wave of strikes over the issue of public sector pay, adding that he would support any call for strike action, reports today’s Guardian. In a speech at the TUC conference next week Mr McCluskey will call on the government to raise the minimum wage by £1 and introduce a cap on energy bill increases, the paper says.
The Guardian writes that home secretary Theresa May has urged police forces not to be discouraged from outsourcing services to the private sector, because of the G4S fiasco. Ms May’s intervention comes as Surrey police decided yesterday to withdraw from a £1.5bn privatisation programme with the West Midlands force, the paper reports.
The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) has joined with teachers unions to call for an independent inquiry into the marking of this year’s GCSEs, reports the Times. A spokesman for the new alliance said that the “grading fiasco” had devastated students’ hopes, the paper says.
As LGC reports today, some councils are coming under pressure from headteachers to pursue legal action over the issue.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the bill for MPs’ spending “was almost as much this year as it was before the MPs’ expenses scandal.” It says the bill went up by a quarter to nearly £90m last year. Before the scandal, in 2008/09, the bill was £95.6m.