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News round-up 1/8: Councils' £2bn parking fee 'bonanza'

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Gove claims support of Karl Marx | Fuel duty cut for rural regions


Councils are set to make £2bn from parking charges this year, a 24% increase since 2010, according to figures from the RAC and the Department for Communities & Local Government reported in the Times.


Home counties sacrifice

National Archives documents released on Thursday show ministers considered allowing parts of Kent and Essex to be flooded in order to save London in the 1980s, the Financial Times reports.


Free schools

Education secretary Michael Gove has claimed his free schools policy would win the support of Karl Marx, the Guardian reports. In a column for the newspaper, Mr Gove wrote: “Marxists support free schools because they embody the idea of the soviet, a self-managing institution run by workers in the wider public interest.” His comments came as a report from Ofsted showed the first cohort of 24 free schools “modestly outperformed” other state schools, with three-quarters of the free schools being found good or outstanding compared with two-thirds of maintained schools.


Child abuse

“Doctors, teachers, social workers and police missed chances” to save four-year-old Daniel Pelka from being starved and beaten to death by his mother and her boyfriend in an “incomprehensible cycle of cruelty and violence”, the Times reports the NSPCC as saying. The children’s protection charity has charged that the suffering of the child “should have been plain to see” by professionals coming into contact with him in the months prior to his death. The perpetrators were yesterday found guilty of murder at Birmingham Crown Court.

NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless described Pelka as “disappearing in front of people’s eyes”, and called for the serious case review into the role of the relevant agencies to offer a “clear understanding of how the child protection system can be improved” in order to keep vulnerable children safe.


Rural fuel duty cut

The Daily Telegraph leads with the news that drivers in remote rural areas will be offered a cut in fuel duty. The paper reports that motorists in remote parts of Devon, Northumberland, North Yorkshire and Wales “could be in line for a reduction of 5p a litre at the pumps.” 


Energy bills

British Gas owner Centrica has announced plans to “shake up” the UK’s consumer electricity market by offering free power on Saturdays to customers who are “willing to concentrate their energy use at weekends when overall demand is low”, says the Financial Times. Echoing measures already used by the company’s American retail business, representatives had pledged that tariffs incorporating free energy elements could be offered to British consumers by early 2014.

Assessing the reasoning behind the move, the paper suggests that it derives from a desire to improve perceptions of energy companies after recent criticism over bill increases. In order to switch to the proposed new tariff, consumers would need to have smart meters fitted.


Fracking gaffe

Conservative peer Lord Howell of Guildford has attempted to clarify an apparent suggestion that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas could be undertaken in “desolate areas” of North East England. In an interview with theDaily Telegraph.

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