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ROUND-UP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 12:05HRS

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A-LEVELS COULD BE SCRAPPED, SAYS MINISTER ...
A-LEVELS COULD BE SCRAPPED, SAYS MINISTER

A-levels could be replaced within ten years, Estelle Morris said yesterday amid the furore over allegations that this year's results were fixed. The secretary of state for education and skills said she would like to see a much broader curriculum taken in the sixth form and suggested ministers might back the introduction of an English version of the International Baccalaureate, reports The Independent.

SHELTER CALLS FOR END TO RIGHT-TO-BUY SERVICE

The government will face demands today to suspend right-to-buy discounts for council tenants in property hotspots to combat soaring house prices. The housing charity Shelter claims the policy has cost the taxpayer almost£4.5bn since Tony Blair came to power five years ago and has increased homelessness by reducing the stock of affordable homes, reports The Independent.

HEADS WILL TELL INQUIRY OF PRESSURE TO LOWER GRADES

Headteachers are due to give evidence at an internal enquiry today that the government's exam watchdog put pressure on boards to force down thousands of candidates A-level grades. If the evidence is substantiated by Mike Tomlinson, the former chief schools inspector who is heading the inquiry it is likely to lead to the resignation of William Stubbs, head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, reports The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=335813

CENSUS OFFICIALS INVENT 1 MILLION CITIZENS

At least 1 million people have been 'made up' and added to the results of the 2001 census, the first of which are published next week. The office of national statistics (ONS) is topping up the number of real people that census-takers found on April 29 last year with 'imputations' about others. Social profiles and even notional addresses for thousands of unidentified individuals have been created because at the time of the census officials believe they missed 3 to 4 per cent of the population, reports the Guardian.

www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,797185,00.html

TORY MINISTER DEFENDS ASYLUM SEEKERS

The shadow home secretary, Oliver Letwin, has thrown his support behind asylum seekers claiming he would be prepared to strap himself under a Eurostar train to get into Britain. In an interview with Radio 4's The Long View to be broadcast tomorrow, Mr Letwin says: 'They are by and large perfectly good-natured people seeking to better themselves and it's just a great misfortune as far as I am concerned that we can't accommodate them all,' reports The Guardian.

www.politics.guardian.co.uk/conservatives/story/0,9061,797200,00.html

LONDON MAYOR AUTHORISES CAR CLAMPS ON CONGESTION

Motorists who fail to pay the mayor of London's£5 congestion charge will have their cars impounded by bailiffs under a 'three strikes and you're out' rule sanctioned by Ken Livingstone's transport authority. The move will be enforced by National Car Parks who have won a£14m five-year contract with Transport for London. From February, their traffic wardens will seek out vehicles when their owners have been sent three or more£80 penalty notices, reports The Guardian.

www.guardian.co.uk/transport/Story/0,2763,797232,00.html

LIB DEM LEADER'S BID TO BOOST WOMEN AT WESTMINSTER

Charles Kennedy is preparing to tackle Liberal Democrat activists over positive discrimination by backing plans to secure more female MEPs. The Lib Dem leader said yesterday he was prepared to 'fight hard' to increase women at Westminster and made it clear he opposed party moves which would all but abolish positive discrimination in candidate selections for the European parliament, reports The Guardian.

http://politics.guardian.co.uk/libdems2002/story/0,12293,797027,00.html

FIRST 50 'SUPPORT POLICE' HIT STREETS

The first 50 community support officers will begin patrolling London today as part of the government's drive to provide a more visible crime deterrent on the streets and tackle nuisance crime. The home secretary, David Blunkett, will announce that 27 of the 42 police forces in England and Wales have decided to employ the new type of officer with more than 1,000 to be introduced over the next few months. The officers are not fully trained as police officers but will be able to issue fixed penalty tickets for a range of anti-social behaviour, including public drunkenness, littering and graffiti, reports The Guardian.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,2763,796990,00.html

COUPLE JAILED FOR STARVING TORTURED DAUGHTER TO DEATH

A london borough's social services department is under fire after a couple who starved and tortured a two-year-old to death were jailed. Leanne Labonte and Dennis Henry were convicted of manslaughter and cruelty after their toddler Ainlee Walker was discovered with 64 injuries by paramedics on a kitchen table in their squalid council home. Newham LBC social services in East London where the couple lived, has admitted that it made mistakes and has launched an inquiry, reports The Times (21/09/02) (p7).

GOVERNMENT DEFIES COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE

The government will press ahead with plans to outlaw fox hunting despite yesterday's 400,000 strong protest by farmers, hunters and rural workers. Protesters truned up for the Liberty and livelihood march, many claiming the countryside would 'erupt in fury' if the government did not drop the Bill and other demands, reports The Independent (p1).

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/environment/story.jsp?story=335797

BUSINESS TELLS PRESCOTT TO SHELVE DEVOLUTION PLANS

The CBI will call on deputy PM John Prescott today to scrap plans for English Devolution warning his proposals would be bad for business and undermine slow-growing regions. Companies claim Mr Prescott's white paper proposals for elected assemblies in the eight regins outside London would damage the government's claim to be 'business friendly', reports the FT (2).

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