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News round-up 14/2: Portas pilot funding goes unspent

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


Portas pilots

Just 12% of the £100,000 Portas pilot money aimed at reviving town centres has been spent, according to details gained through Freedom of Information requests. The Independent says the money that has been spent by councils has been used on “seemingly wasteful items” such as a £1,600 Peppa Pig costume and nearly £1,000 on postage.



A rural Lancashire community have taken a DIY approach to superfast broadband, with an army of volunteers digging channels across fields and laying fibre optic cables. The BBC reports that a group of local people decided the major suppliers were unlikely to deliver to their area and decided to do it themselves.



Camden LBC is planning “the largest single displacement of poor people from London”, the Guardian reports on its front page. It says more than 700 families could be moved up to 200 miles away because the government’s cap on benefits will mean they can no longer afford their current accommodation or any other home in the south-east.



Councils, schools and pupils have reacted with dismay after the High Court ruled they could not challenge the downgrading of GCSE exam scores, the Independent reports. The judge said the fault lay with the structure of the exam rather than any unlawful action by exams regulator Ofqual or the exam boards.


A critical Ofsted report has found PE lessons in more than a quarter of Britain’s schools involve so little physical activity they fail to improve pupils’ fitness at all, the Independent reports.


Private schools will be invited to bid to run young offender institutions under powers to be set out by justice secretary Chris Grayling today, the Daily Mail reports. Private firms, colleges and schools will also be allowed to bid for the ‘secure colleges’.


Education secretary Michael Gove has been questioned by select committee MPs about claims he knew nothing about a grievance procedure involving his adviser and a civil servant, the Financial Times reports.


Council tax

Prime minister David Cameron has criticised the Welsh government for using council tax freeze funding for other purposes, resulting in proposed increases in Wales as high as 5%, the BBC reports. The Welsh government rejected the PM’s criticism saying the funding received was not specifically for tax.


NHS whistleblower

“Damning new questions have been raised about the most powerful man in the NHS – by a whistleblower paid £500,000 to stay quiet over the state of his hospital,” says the Daily Mail. The paper reports on the case of former United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust boss Gary Walker who signed a gagging clause not to talk about what he says are safety problems caused by the implementation of top-down targets. The paper says this will add to calls for NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson to resign.



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Readers' comments (1)

  • Camden - why not the Israelis have been doing for years.

    And in education private schools will be able to teach young offenders more subtle forms of violence!

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