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News round up - 9 September

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

Source: Radu Razvan

Public sector strikes

The TUC is “prepared and ready” to co-ordinate strike action if talks over public pension reforms fail, its leader said as the head of a civil servants’ union announced plans for November walkouts that could involve millions of public sector workers, the Guardian reports.

The paper also carries an interview with TUC general secretary Brendan Barner ahead of next week’s congress.

Meanwhile, The Times reports £ on claims by the Reform thinktank that shedding 400,000 public sector jobs would be “easily manageable” through natural wastage. It said the target set by George Osborne could be achieved by only replacing 11% of employees that leave over the next five years. Reform also claimed sickness rates in the public sector are nearly 50% higher than in the private sector and recommended scrapping the cap on the salary of high-earning civil servants to attract top talent.

Planning reform

In the latest installment of its “Hands off our land” campaign the Daily Telegraph says communities will have to pay “up to £1,000” to apply to save their green spaces from “the developers bulldozers” as part of the government’s planning reforms. It says the fees - mooted by the Department for the Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs - would see residents “penalised” for trying to protect green spaces, and would be put off from applying. The paper said England had some 4,500 “greens” - protected open spaces where people can walk their dogs and pursue leisure activities.

Big Society

The Financial Times reports £ that the much vaunted Big Society bank aims to create a market for social investing that will draw in at least £3bn of private money, buts chief operating officer has admitted it cannot fill the hole left by public spending cuts The bank, now renamed Big Society Capital as it will not take deposits and will only lend wholesale, will focus on facilitating investment rather than funding frontline services, Caroline Mason told the paper.
It hopes to attract five times as much cash to the social enterprise sector as its £600m resources, she said. “We are not going to be able to fund everything and everybody,” Ms Mason said. “We want to address market failures. We want to leverage in private money. Our role is to build up confidence.”

Children at risk

The Guardian reports that new figures show that record numbers of “at risk” children are being taken from their families and placed into care, as social workers respond to what they regard as increasing neglect and emotional abuse of vulnerable youngsters.

The paper says the rapid growth in care orders is attributed partly to social workers being more prepared to intervene to protect young children from persistent exposure to domestic violence, and parental mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse.

Coalition politics

The Independent previews a speech by immigration minister Damian Green today, in which he will warn that “Conservatives should not sub-contract moderate and progressive politics to our Lib Dem partners.” The paper says Mr Green is to speak out after growing accusations from Tory right-wingers that Mr Cameron is bowing to Liberal Democrat pressure to water down his plans on heath service reform and police commissioners.

Olympics gangs warning

The Independent reports on a warning by home secretary Theresa May that gangs involved in last month’s riots could attempt to disrupt the 2012 London Olympics. The paper says fears over attempts to disrupt the Games have been privately relayed by a former police officer to the Commons home affairs select committee, which is examining the worse wave of unrest to hit England for 30 years. Ms May, appearing before the committee, acknowledged the danger that the gangs could use the Olympics as a catalyst for looting and violence.

Other news

Cornwall Council has banned the owners of second homes whose main residence is outside the authority from voting in local elections, the Daily Telegraph reports. The council has adopted “a strict interpretation of the law” meaning that no-one will be able to have their name on the electoral register unless they can prove Cornwall is their main home. The move follows an electoral review panel decision following “years of pressure” from Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall Dan Rogerson and Lib Dem councillors.

The Daily Mail reports that London councillors are being offered “hundreds of prized Olympics tickets” making them unavailable to the public as a consequence. It said that “politicians and bureaucrats” at Newham, Barking & Dagenham, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, and Waltham Forest LBCs will have additional opportunities to pip the public for the chance to watch prestigious events. It said the councils had been given the opportunity to buy an extra 100 tickets to Olympic events in addition to the original 100 tickets they were originally allowed to buy. The paper added that the London Assembly had criticised the process and called for a public register of which local politicians receive tickets.

The Guardian covers a report by the Confederation of British Industry which says that failure to overhaul ageing road and rail networks and make decisions to fund vital infrastructure projects is deterring business from investing in Britain and holding back growth.


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