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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 10.37HRS

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IDS OUT, HOWARD SET TO LEAD THE TORIES ...
IDS OUT, HOWARD SET TO LEAD THE TORIES

Iain Duncan Smith lost the vote of confidence last night and is no longer leader of the Conservative Party after 75 MPs voted for him to remain and 90 voted to have him removed as their leader, reports The Guardian(p1). The result means a new leader will be elected, but it is thought the former home secretary, Michael Howard, will emerge as the only candidate to lead the Tories into the next general election. Additional reporting in The Guardian(p3), finds calls for a younger and less 'stuffy' leader than Mr Howard. But despite this, Tory councillor at Swindon BC, Justin Tomlinson, said he would back whoever won and 'prayed that Tory MPs would do the same'.

COUNCIL TAX DEBATE IS 'MISSING THE POINT'

The deputy leader of Westminster City Council has called for the council tax debate to focus on boosting government funding for local authorities, rather than discuss how councils should 'raise ever-increasing amounts of tax'. In a letter published in the Financial Times(p20), Kit Malthouse stresses that central funding is 'simply not keeping up with the increasing demands placed on councils by Whitehall'.

EMPLOYERS' URGE GENDER PAY GAP TO BE CLOSED

Commenting on the Local Government Pay Commission report, (see LGCnetfor full details), Charles Nolda, executive director of the Employers' Organisation for Local Government, said equal pay was a key area for work between employers and unions. 'It is necessary to do everything that we can to try to close the gender pay gap,' he stressed, reports the Financial Times(p8). Click herefor more on the employers' response.

CITY CALLED IN TO HELP SCHOOLS BALANCE THEIR BOOKS

Management consultants from the company KPMG are being drafted in to help head teachers manage school budgets under government efforts to avoid a repeat of this year's education funding crisis, The Guardianhighlights (p10). The article says the move will anger some heads who fear their authority is being challenged. The announcement pleased local education authority leaders, who welcomed new powers to intervene where they believe schools are setting unbalanced budgets.

Click herefor the education secretary's full announcement.

THINK TANK REPORT NOT GOING BACK TO '70s-STYLE INTERVENTIONISM'

John Adams, the author of the Institute for Public Policy Research's regions report (click herefor full report) has denied its job creation recommendations were a return to '70s-style interventionism'. 'We are not being old-fashioned; this will strengthen enterprise and growth and we have stressed bottom-up regionalism,' he said in the Financial Times(p6). Meanwhile, The Guardian (p10), says the IPPR report suggests that those people in the higher income bracket should pay more council tax to help alleviate congestion and provide funding for essential services for areas earmarked by the government for substantial growth.

CONTRACTORS ATTACKED FOR ICE CHAOS ON ROADS

Contractors for the Highways Agency were guilty of a 'very serious lapse' in not getting roads gritted in time to avoid gridlock on major routes in January, a report by MPs said yesterday, reports The Guardian(p12). It found that salting began 'too late to prevent chaos' in the northern home counties and it was 'intolerable' that the agency had no immediate financial sanction available when a contractor failed to keep roads open and free of ice, according to the commons transport committee's report, The Work of the Highways Agency.

EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHDOGS MERGE

The government will today publish plans to create a Commission for Equality and Human Rights after the general election, reports The Guardian(p16). It will replace the Commission for Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission. It will also deal with age, religious and sexual orientation discrimination. Click hereon LGCnet for full announcement.

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