Your daily media round up of all the key stories affecting local government
New research published today by the charity Contact A Family suggests that some schools are regularly making unlawful exclusions, according to the Guardian. The charity’s survey of over 400 families of children with disabilities or additional needs found that 22% are illegally excluded once a week and 15% every day (for part of the day). More than 60% of the parents have been told that their child has been put on a part-time timetable- something that can be appropriate for short periods of time (for instance, when a child is returning to school after an illness) but should not continue indefinitely.
Meanwhile, Department for Education civil servants have voted to strike action over plans to cut 1,000 jobs in a ballot organised by the Public and Commercial Services Union, the Independent reports.
The government has admitted that thousands of children are dying because of NHS failings, the Times has reported. In response to criticism in a report last year by the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum, the government called for councils to work with royal medical colleges and the NHS to review health provision for children in care and for better information sharing between doctors, nurses and local authorities.
The spate of retail chains going into administration means thousands more shops could be closed on high streets across the country’s top 650 town centres, the Financial Times reports. Research by the Local Data Company showed there were more than 35,500 empty shops and a national vacancy rate of 14.2% following the collapse of companies including Blockbuster, Jessops and HMV.
Historic laws which guarantee householders the right to enjoy the light which comes into their homes could be scrapped to encourage the building of large developments, according to the Daily Telegraph.
In “a new assault” on planning rules, the Law Commission began a consultation, which is backed by ministers, which could lead to the centuries-old entitlement to daylight being ditched to stop home owners holding up building projects.
Currently, households can object to developments, including neighbours’ extensions or new houses, if they threaten the amount of natural light that enters a home.
Nuclear power stations
The Guardian leads with a story about ministers’ 11th hour bid to fulfill their nuclear ambitions. The government is launching a last-ditch attempt to sign up energy companies to build new nuclear power stations by proposing to sign contracts guaranteeing subsidies for up to 40 years, it says.
The coalition agreement reached between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in 2010 promised that nuclear power stations would be built only if the industry got no public subsidy, but costly overruns for new reactors overseas and the exit of several major utilities from the UK programme, most recently Centrica, have driven ministers and officials to backtrack on that pledge and accept they will have to provide financial support.
Tewkesbury BC has been criticised for arranging for a six-bedroom house to be built for an unemployed mother, her 11 children, two grandchildren and partner, reports The Times. The council sold land to Severn Vale Housing for £210,000 on provision that the 15 affordable homes the housing association planned included a six-bedroom home for large families and a bungalow suitable for people with disabilities.
Speaking on the Today programme, Universities Minister David Willetts said there was no limit on the number of Indian students who could attend universities in the UK.
Attempts had been made to crack-down on bogus colleges, he stated, but stressed that genuine Indian students were welcome to study in the UK. He said that higher education in the UK was a great export industry, but argued that post-study work should only be available for those people who were able to secure a job.
Mr Willetts maintained that the system of post-study work was as competitive in the UK as it was in the US and Australia.
Higher education in the UK was respected around the world and he wanted to attract overseas students with appropriate academic abilities and necessary language skills.
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