Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
Council chiefs are demanding 10 per cent of the profits made by energy companies if they press ahead with fracking for shale gas in their areas, according to the Times (£). The call comes as anti-fracking activists are expected to try to gain access to an oil-drilling test site in Sussex today, 24 hours after more than 1,000 protesters marched on the site in Balcombe. The LGA has called for a meeting with Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, and Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, to press for substantially higher compensation payments where fracking goes ahead.
Shops on the traditional High Street will have to be replaced by creches, health clinics and coffee shops if town centres are to survive, Mary Portas has told the Telegraph. Mrs Portas, the self-styled Queen of Shops who conducted an official review into how to revive the high street, said that for too long Britain has been “obsessed” with retail. She suggested that instead high streets should become more like “agora”, the centre of ancient Greek cities which formed the centre of social and political activities. She said: “Who says it had to be all about retail? If you look through history, let’s even go back to the Greek agora, towns were about where you met, where you voted. We have been obsessed with high streets being retail.
Chief rabbi’s parting shot
Prime minister David Cameron has failed to take sufficient action to help stay-at-home mothers and encourage marriage, according to remarks made by retiring chief rabbi and crossbench peer Lord Sacks reported in this morning’s Times. Citing the social and financial costs of family breakdown as the reasoning behind his comments, Lord Sacks also told the paper that in his view, the concept of multiculturalism had “had its day” and should be abandoned. It had led to “segregation and inward-looking communities”, he added.
He called for the government to recognise marriage in the tax system and offer further support for non-working mothers, adding that “the principle is pretty clear”.
Second coalition proposal
Today’s Daily Telegraph leads with the story that prime minister David Cameron has started planning for the possibility of a second coalition government with the Liberal Democrats after 2015. In private meetings with cabinet members, the prime minister has discussed how to change Conservative Party rules so that it would be easier to form another coalition. The reform would ensure that Conservative backbenchers were involved in consultation on coalition policies.
It had been observed that the failure to involve backbench Conservatives in Coalition discussions led to a situation where they did not feel obliged to vote in favour of certain policies as they had not had a say on them. The plans, the paper says, are aimed at preventing such a situation from occurring again.
Labour has called for pensions providers to stop ripping off customers or else face stringent regulation, the Financial Times reports today. Speaking in an interview with the paper, shadow pensions minister Grey McClymont said that the failure of the sector to tell savers the extent of their charges meant that people could lose thousands of pounds from their final payouts.
If providers did not “start telling people what they are really charging them” by the time his party returned to power, Labour would “force them to”, he promised. Mr McClymont further argued that Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband had “quite a significant amount of time” in hand to develop policies in the run-up to the next election.
High speed rail
The cost of the HS2 rail line could reach £80bn, almost double the project’s current cost estimate of £43bn, according to a report from the Institute of Economic Affairs thinktank. The Financial Times reports that the author, a long-time opponent of the scheme, claims the £80bn would produce £320bn of economic benefits if it were used to upgrade other rail and road infrastructure.
A study from Cancer Research UK “starkly illustrates” a north-south divide in cancer survival rates, the Independent reports. The charity has collated data which, which broken down by local authority area, shows those in affluent boroughs such as Kensington & Chelsea RBC have much better chances of survival than those in Liverpool or Manchester.
A growing number of secondary schools are in danger of failing to reach the government’s minimum target for performance in GCSE results this week, the Independent reports.
The Independent runs a feature on the high level of employment on the Council of the Isles of Scilly which reveals the islands have the highest level of entrepreneurship of any local authority outside of London.
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