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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 09.54HRS

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UNION URGES LOCAL COUNCILS TO DEBATE OVER SIX TERM SCHOOL YEAR ...
UNION URGES LOCAL COUNCILS TO DEBATE OVER SIX TERM SCHOOL YEAR

Teachers urged local councils yesterday to consult fully over any proposals to shake up the school year and warned that in many areas a six term year seemed to be 'creeping up' without any proper debate involving the classroom unions, reports The Guardian(p8). Members of the National Union of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers condemned local education authorities for unilaterally pushing ahead with proposals which had major implications for schools and families in neighbouring authorities. At their annual conference in Bournemouth, union members backed a motion that any changes to term dates should be subject to a national debate.

TEACHERS' UNION ATTACKS GOVERNMENT AS 'TOTALITARIAN STATE'

Meanwhile, the National Union of Teachers declared war on the government yesterday and accused the Education Secretary of 'McCarthyism' after he ordered civil servants to break off all contact with its members. Speaking at the union's annual conference in Harrogate, the general secretary, Doug McAvoy, accused Charles Clarke of trying to stifle dissent over plans to reform the school workforce. He told delegates the union would take industrial action to prevent classroom assistants from being used in place of teachers, and to stop redundancies in schools that did not have adequate funds, reports The Times(p7).

PRIVATISATION FEARS AT SCOTTISH WATER

Scottish Water was at the centre of a political storm over backdoor privatisation yesterday after confirming plans to cut 900 jobs, almost a quarter of its workforce. The utility, the second-largest government-owned corporation after Royal Mail, said it would cut its annual £320m operating budget by £100m over the next two or three years to match the water industry's efficiency in England and Wales, reports The Guardian(p18). However, Scottish Water's finance director, Douglas Millican, denied the move was a shift towards privatisation, but insisted the steps were being taken to ensure the utility became 'as efficient as' a privatised company.

DIRECTOR OF SOLACE HITS BACK AT MP's CRTICISMS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHIEFS

The director general of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, David Clark, has attacked MP John Redwood's critique of local government published in his leaflet, A Balance for the Best. Mr Redwood argues that local government chief executives have weakened the authority of councillors. But Mr Clark, writing in a letter published in The Guardian(p23), hits back saying it is successive governments that have treated councillors with 'contempt' and 'diminished' their role.

LGA INSISTS LOCAL COUNCILS NOT HOLDING BACK 'MISSING MILLIONS'

LGA's Education Executive chair, Cllr Graham Lane, has insisted local councils are not holding back money from schools, contradicting earlier statements made by David Miliband. Writing in a letter published in The Independent (p17), Cllr Lane said forecast budgets show local authorities are set to collectively spend more than £100m in excess of the cash they have been given by the government for education services, which often meant increases in local taxation to meet this commitment.

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