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News round up 26/9: Labour seeks hearing on economy

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

Source: Radu Razvan

Labour conference

Both the front pages of the Independent and the Guardian are devoted to the opening of the Labour party conference and shadow chancellor Ed Balls’ promise the party will take as tough a line on spending cuts as the Conservatives.

The Financial Times (£) reports Ed Miliband suffered a setback on the first day of the Labour conference after he failed in his attempt to reduce the influence of unions over future leadership elections. The Labour leader had been keen to reduce union influence because of criticism of the way he won last year’s leadership elections with heavy backing from the big unions.

The Times (£) also reports on union influence within the Labour party, highlighting deputy leader Harriet Harman’s pledge to back striking public sector workers if the government remains “unreasonable” about reforms to their pensions. With Ed Miliband also urging the government to engage in “serious” negotiations with leaders, the paper contrasts this with his remarks earlier this month at the TUC conference where he said June’s public sector strikes were “a mistake”.

Meanwhile, Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB and president of the TUC says in a comment piece in the Times (£) that Mr Miliband must back the unions on public sector pensions.

The FT reports there was confusion after Labour said it would set a £6,000 cap on tuition fees - while saying it wanted to pursue a new graduate tax as an alternative to tuition fees. Ed Miliband said the lower cap on fees would be funded by reversing a cut in corporation tax for banks while hitting the highest-paid graduates with higher interest rates on their loans.

But aides stopped short of saying the policy would definitely be in Labour’s 2015 manifesto. Mr Miliband’s team still have a long-term aspiration for a graduate tax, John Denham, the shadow business secretary, said on Sunday. The plan also failed to win the support of the National Union of Students, which wants an end to all fees.

 

Planning

Three-hundred thousand new homes will be build on green-field sites as a result of the government’s proposed planning reforms, the Daily Mail warns. It quotes figures from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which claims some 230 projects are in the pipeline as a result of the government’s new National Planning Policy Framework, and that the results would be some 313,000 homes.

Daily Telegraph continues its “Hands off our land” campaign with a focus on property firms that it claims have donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party and lobbied for relaxed planning rules.

Meanwhile, the government has broken its promise to shield the best farmland from new planning rules, the Independent reports.

 

Employment rules

New rights for 1.4m agency workers are being introduced this week in what the Financial Times labels the most bitterly contested change in employment law for years. From Saturday, agency staff who have worked for a company for more than 12 weeks will have the same rights to basic employment and working conditions as if they were permanent staff.

 

Squatters

Housing minister Grant Shapps and justice minister Crispin Blunt have been accused of “sensationalist misrepresentation” in their push to reform squatting laws, the Guardian reports. An open letter from 160 lawyers, including a QC and a land expert from Oxford University, and backed by housing charity Crisis is published in today’s Guardian.

 

Other news

The Guardian carries an in-depth report into Sheffield City Council’s £100m redevelopment of the run-down Park Hill estate where Grade II listing had made the project unusually problematic.

Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph reports in “Pay rise for millions in public sector” that millions of teachers, council staff and other public sector workers will see their pay increase despite the government’s pledged freeze. It said that so-called “progression pay” rewards would see some three million staff receive awards of up to four percent.

 

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