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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES FROM THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 15.40HRS

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PLANNING OFFICER WARNS COUNCILLORS NOT TO BE SWAYED BY FINANCIAL INCENTIVES ...
PLANNING OFFICER WARNS COUNCILLORS NOT TO BE SWAYED BY FINANCIAL INCENTIVES

A holiday village just outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park boundary is now expected to be approved after its size has been reduced. The company, Eco Build UK, has promised five per cent of the annual profits to local nature and environmental causes. But Richmondshire DC planning officer Peter Featherstone has urged councillors to be cautious about the offer and not be unduly influenced by 'such financial incentives', reports the Yorkshire Post (p8).

COUNCIL LEADERS CLEAR UP THE FACTS AND FIGURES ON COUNCIL TAX

The leader of Calderdale MBC, John Ford, has justified reasons for the proposed council tax increase in a long letter published in the Yorkshire Post (p12). Cllr Ford said he did not ask for any 'special treatment, just a fair share of the financial cake'. Meanwhile, the leader of Wakefield MDC, Peter Box, has vehemently denied that councillors' expenses will be increased by the independent panel regulating their expenditure allowance. Cllr Box writes his letter on (p12) in response to a letter sent by Peter Jordan in the Yorkshire Post (14/04/03).

BIRMINGHAM COUNCIL APPOINTS THREE NEW AREA DIRECTORS IN RADICAL SHAKE-UP

Birmingham social services has appointed three new area directors as part of a radical shake-up in the department's management. The directors will take responsibility for geographical areas of the city covered by the primary care trusts, with the aim of creating a better working relationship between social services and the health service, reports The Birmingham Post (p4). The new appointments are: David Jones, area director for the south; Berkley Broomes, area director for the north and Jon Tomlinson, area director for the east.

COUNTY SOCIAL SERVICES' AMONG BEST IN THE WEST MIDLANDS

Worcestershire social services are among the best in the west Midlands and have 'excellent' prospects for improving further, according to a government survey.

Inspectors from the Aud it Commission and the Department of Health said the county's caring services had improved in recent years and were performing well in comparison to other local authorities, reports The Birmingham Post (p4).

PHONE MASTS PLAN REJECTED BY LEWISHAM LBC

Campaigners in south London have won Lewisham LBC's backing in their fight against two mobile phone companies who want to put a mast in a water tower near their homes, reports the South London Press (p2). After an hour and 40 minutes of debate, five of Lewisham LBC's planning committee went against the advise of planners and said they wanted to refuse the application.

OPPONENTS OF BAN ON GREEN LANES IN YORKSHIRE THREATEN TO GO TO COURT

Trail bikers and 4by4 drivers against an experimental ban on the use of four green lanes in the Yorkshire Dales have warned they could take their case to a judicial review at the High Court, reports the Yorkshire Post (p8). North Yorkshire CC want to use the ban in an attempt to prevent further damage to the unsurfaced tracks and reduce disturbance to further users.

ISLINGTON COUNCIL SLASHES VOLUNTARY GROUP GRANTS

Islington Council has cut voluntary groups' grants by £400,000 in a bid to target more money at education and social services. Addressing the voluntary groups at last Thursday's executive meeting, council leader Steve Hitchins said the cuts were not easy decisions to make. The council said funding opportunities were available to the voluntary groups through the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund and the Single Regeneration Budget, reported The Highbury and Islington Express (18/04/03), (p4).

EDINBURGH CITY COUNCILLOR ATTACKS SNP'S PLANS TO END PRIVATE CASH FOR SCHOOLS

Cllr Rev Ewan Aitken, executive member for Education at the City of Edinburgh Council, has criticised the Scottish National Party's claim that it would end the use of private cash for schools as 'cynical spin'. Writing in a letter published in The Scotsman (21/04/03), (p15), Cllr Rev Aitken said it was nonsense to suggest that under previous funding mechanisms neither private sector nor profit were involved. He said councils in the past have borrowed money with interest and then contracted private companies to successfully build schools.

LONDON MAYOR RULES OUT NORTH LONDON EXTENSION OF CONGESTION CHARGE

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has ruled out extending the congestion charge further into Camden, north London, reported the Hampstead and Highgate Express (18/04/03), (p1). However, Mr. Livingstone offered to help any boroughs wanting to implement their own congestion charging. Town Hall leaders in Camden said they had no wish to introduce the £5 charge on the borough's motorists.

HULL COUNCIL FACING BIGGER BILLS FOR GREEN POWER

Hull council ??? one of the biggest users of 'green' electricity in Europe ??? is facing higher bills from energy companies and needs to find more ways of producing its own power, a report warns. The council has found that its supplier, NPower Yorkshire, had found that it could not find anymore sources of green electricity during the remainder of its contract, which expires in June. The council is being urged to investigate ways of becoming self-sufficient from a list of possible alternative energy sources submitted to the Cabinet, reported the Yorkshire Post ( 19/04/03), (p8).

COUNCIL COLLECTION CHARGE FOR BULKY HOUSEHOLD GOODS TO RISE

Rotherham Council has said it is being forced to increase rubbish collection charges because of the rising costs of waste disposal, reported the Yorkshire Post (21/04/03), (p9). Council leaders said the increased charge was still only a fraction of the actual cost of each collection. From May 1, customers will be charged £8, and increase of £1, for unwanted furniture, domestic appliances and garden equipment collected from their homes.

COUNCIL FORCES HOUSING DEVELOPERS TO PAY FOR EXTRA SCHOOL PLACES

Housing developers in Worcestershire have been told by the local council that they will have to contribute towards the cost of increasing the size of local schools to cope with the extra number of children they bring to an area, reported The Birmingham Post (19/04/03), (p2). A fixed sum will be required for each house in schemes involving five or more homes under a new policy passed by the Worcestershire CC's cabinet.

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