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REGIONAL PRESS NEWS ROUNDUP (UPDATED 3.45PM)

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LEICESTER EDUCATION SERVICE GIVEN MORE TIME TO IMPROVE ...
LEICESTER EDUCATION SERVICE GIVEN MORE TIME TO IMPROVE

Leicester City Council has been given extra time to help its schools improve their performance without privatisation. Schools minister Estelle Morris said the council was now on the right track and needed to continue improvements made this year. Education bosses now have until January to prepare for a second Ofsted inspection, reports The Leicester Mercury.

ABERDEEN IN THE RUNNING FOR AN INTERNATIONAL 'GREEN OSCAR'

Aberdeen has been shortlisted for the finals of the international Nations in Bloom competition - known as the Green Oscars - which will take place in Washington DC in December, reports The Aberdeen Press and Journal. Len Ironside, leader of the city council, said he was delighted Aberdeen hade made the shortlist. He said: 'My thanks go to the city council workforce who are responsible for our parks and also our citizens for the trmendous effort they have made.'

SUNDERLAND PLANS YOUTH PARLIAMENT

Sunderland City Council is set to create what is thought to be the country's first youth parliament, which will give youngsters a real say in the running of the council, reports The Journal. Once the project is agreed by councillors, young people nominated to the body would be able to put their views to the authority's all-party cabinet.

SCOTLAND OMITTED FROM TORY CONFERENCE AGENDA

The Conservatives were accused of giving 'little Englanders' a free run at the party conference later this month - by omitting Scottish issues from the agenda, reports The Aberdeen Press and Journal. Party chairman Michael Ancram claimed that this was because Scottish Tory president, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, was not a member of the shadow cabinet and therefore not entitled to address representatives in Bournemouth. The party has ditched the annual process of collecting motions from local constituency associations for debate and vote just for this year.

OUT-OF-COURT DEAL REACHED WITH FORMER KEY ABERDEEN OFFICER

A former Aberdeen City Council international officer has won an out-of-court settlement after leaving her job citing psychological distress following the death of two colleagues (see LGC). Alison Cameron was seeking compensation from the authority. An Aberdeen spokesman told The Herald(p11): 'The matter was placed in the hands of our insurers and is now closed.'

BIRMINGHAM VOTES FOR REFERENDUM ON MAYOR

A referendum will be held in Birmingham by October 2001 asking residents whether they want a directly elected mayor. The Birmingham Post reports(p1) that, despite cross-party opposition, councillors yesterday voted to go ahead with the referendum. They were responding to recommendations by the Democracy Commission (see LGCnet).

BIRMINGHAM DLO STAFF PROTEST OVER JOBS THREAT

A full meeting of Birmingham City Council was disrupted for half an hour yesterday when 50 staff protesting at plans to privatise the housing repairs and maintenance service took over the council chamber. The Birmingham Post reports(p4) council leader Albert Bore: 'The status quo is not an option, which is why the council has initiated a tendering exercise.'

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