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REGIONAL PRESS NEWS ROUNDUP

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QUESTIONS OVER ASSEMBLY'S£41M UNDERSPEND ...
QUESTIONS OVER ASSEMBLY'S£41M UNDERSPEND
Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones has written to the Welsh first minister Rhodri Morgan demanding to know why£41m of national assembly money has not been spent, reports The Western Mail (p7). 'Rhodri Morgan tell us that these missing millions were earmarked for the common agricultural policy and the housing revenue account subsidy and could not be carried forward to the present financial year,' Mr Jones said. 'We need to know exacly how such a large sum breaks down and a cast-iron assurance that every effort is made to ensure that such a situation is not allowed to happen in future.'
DELAY FOR BIRMINGHAM TRAFFIC WARDEN PRIVATISATION
Plans to privatise Birmingham's traffic warden service have been delayed indefinitely after the government failed to sign a parliamentary order enabling new-style wardens to issue£60 fines. The Birmingham Post (p1) reports that the newtwork was to have passed from police control to Birmingham City Council, and then on to a private firm on 1 April. The hiccough is being blamed on a rush to complete urgent business in advance of the general election, but the city council has not been told when the order might be signed.
BIRMINGHAM SOCIAL SERVICES DIRECTOR SLAMS MEMBERS' ATTITUDES
Birmingham City Council's director of social services, Sandra Taylor, has complained that elected members are increasingly subjecting her department managers to a battering for managing 'difficult decisions', reports The Birmingham Post. In a letter to councillors, she said that managers felt 'abused and blamed' for doing their job and called for a meeting to discuss the problem.
40 ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE IN SOUTHWARK CHILDREN'S HOMES
Forty people have made allegations of sexual abuse to a major inquiry into children's homes in Southwark LBC, reports The South London Press (p1). Operation Forest, set up a year ago to investigate claims of abuse at one council-run home, has been widened and is looking at all abuse claims made by Southwark children in care between the 1960s and 1980s.
CONSULTANTS SAY LAMBETH SHOULD DITCH CAPITA
A draft report written by consultants from the Barony Group has recommended that Lambeth LBC take its housing benefit operation, currently run by Capita, back in-house. According to The South London Press (p6), the leaked report cites the 'very poor' state of Capita's filing system, poor customer services standards and supervision of staff, over-reliance on highly paid agency workers and long delays in assessing claims.
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