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REGIONAL PRESS NEWS ROUNDUP - UPDATED 3:08PM

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SLAP CASE HEAD STARTS NEXT ROUND OF FIGHT TO RETURN TO SCHOOL ...
SLAP CASE HEAD STARTS NEXT ROUND OF FIGHT TO RETURN TO SCHOOL
The National Union of Teachers is finalising its preparations to launch the next stage in the battle to get Majorie Evans reinstated as headteacher of her former Monmouthshire school. Mrs Evans, who four months ago was cleared on appeal of slapping a 10-year-old pupil, was told by governors after the case that she faced fresh allegations of mistreating children in her care and could be recharged. NUT senior solicitor Graham Clayton said: 'We are expecting the papers to be finalised imminently and will be pressing the high court to be as expedient in the hearing of this case as possible,' reports Western Mail(p1).
FOURTH OPTION FOR WELSH COUNCILS
Fears that the introduction of cabinet-style government in Welsh councils could lead to the rise of powerful cabals and increased secrecy have been eased, according to The Western Mail(p1). The Lib-Lab coalition in the Welsh assembly believes the introduction of its own Local Government Bill, which requires council cabinets to meet almost exclusively in public, and offers them a fourth option of adopting a modernised committee structure with enhanced scrutiny powers in place of the cabinet system, elected mayors or council managers, will ease such worries.
'THIRD OF WELSH PRIVATE CARE HOMES MAY CLOSE'
Care Forum Wales has said that a third of Welsh independent care homes for the elderly may close in the next two years. New legislation means that private care homes must undertake a round of improvements and staff training likely to cost them tens of thousands of pounds, but owners say they have not got the funds to pay for these improvements. The Western Mail (3 January, p9) reported that an independent study, called C are of the elderly people market survey 2000, by healthcare information company Laing and Buisson, says nursing homes need to operate permanently at 85% capacity, but with the cost of improvements, there are fears that soon the rate will be closer to 100%.
CONCERN OVER PLANS TO TRANSFER BIRMINGHAM TRAFFIC WARDENS
A 1,000-signature petition has been handed to Birmingham City Council in protest at plans to outsource the authority's traffic warden service, reports The Birmingham Post (p4). From 1 April, responsibility for the service will be transferred from West Midlands Police to a council-appointed private contractor yet to be chosen. But the city's 30-strong traffic warden team fear the move means they will no longer enjoy the same police protection and will lead to job cuts.
RICHMONDSHIRE MEMBER UNDER FIRE FOR 'SEXIST' COMMENTS ABOUT COUNCIL STAFF
A member of Richmondshire DC who is alleged to have published 'sexist and patronising' comments about three female members of the council's staff in his ward newsletter is facing censure from his colleagues, reports The Yorkshire Post (p8). Councillors meet next week to consider a complaint made against Tony Pelton. Councillors Lynne Miller and Yvonne Peacock, who made the complaint, said Mr Pelton had referred to 'female council employees in a patronising and sexist manner and thereby brought discredit' on the authority. They also say the material was an infringement of the national code of local government conduct. Mr Pelton described the situation as a 'storm in a teacup'. and said there was nothing derogatory in his article.
NOTTS MP SEEKS CHANGE TO EDUCATION FUNDING SYSTEM
An MP is taking a fight for fair funding for Nottinghamshire's schools to the floor of the house of commons, reports The Nottingham Evening Post. But Nick Palmer's Bill has littl e chance of becoming law, so campaigners want an immediate cash boost for the county while the system, which the government says will take three years to reform, is sorted out. Mr Palmer's Bill, brought under the ten-minute rule, will have its first reading on 7 February.
NORTH SCHOOLS MISS OUT ON VITAL MILLIONS
Councils in the north-east of England have said they are being caught in a poverty trap because harthey cannot afford to access extra education millions given to them by the government, reports The Journal. More than£100m has been allocated to eight councils in the region to spend on areas as varied as truancy, school security and teaching assistants. But these councils must contribute£32m in match-funding to access the grants. Durham CC's education director Keith Mitchell said: 'Unless something remarkable happens, then for the first time ever we will not take up our full allocation of the standards fund. We are likely to miss out on£2m of expenditure.'
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