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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 10:50HRS

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ROY HATTERSLEY ON KEN LIVINGSTONE: CULT OF PERSONALISTY OVER LOCAL DEMOCRACY...
ROY HATTERSLEY ON KEN LIVINGSTONE: CULT OF PERSONALISTY OVER LOCAL DEMOCRACY

'The latest round of mayoral elections have produced exactly the results that the critics of the bright idea predicted - low turnouts, encouragement of extremism and the elevation of personality over policy,' comments Roy Hattersley in The Guardian(p4). 'And there is no reason to assume that the future of the innovation will be any more sensible. The campaign, which has already begun in London, is far more concerned with Ken Livingstone's character than with either his record or his programme.' He concludes: 'The paradox of the London mayoral election is that a sensible man will be wrongly portrayed by his critics as ridiculous, as he argues that the ridiculous job to which he aspires has serious value. The best we can hope for is that the campaign for Mayor of London convinces the major parties that the whole idea is absurd,' he concludes.

'BLOKE' WHO LEADS FIREFIGHTERS' SAYS HE WILL UNLEASH CHAOS

The Guardian(p4) profiles the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, Andy Gilchrist. Mr Gilchrist, it transpires, was once trialled as a professional footballer for Luton Town FC. 'I was never a striker,' he jokes. 'Unlike others of the new generation of union leaders being demonised by the government,' the paper reports, 'he is a Labour-supporting, modest, non-ranting, regular bloke.' Suggestions that income tax or council taxes would have to increase substantially to pay for this are dismissed as 'demons and myths, that they're going to wish to pump up as much as they can'.

HOUNSLOW LBC COMMENTS ON ITS MOST CELEBRATED ROUGH SLEEPER

Since the removal of Anne Naysmith's car/home of 30 years in March this year, she has been offered flats but has refused, preferring to sleep rough. Recently, local authority contractors uprooted a garden she had nurtured and used as shelter in the corner of a car park, but Hounslow LBC claimed the contractors made a mistake and said it had offered to help Ms Naysmith replant her plot. A spokeswoman for Hounslow LBC said the authority was 'horrified' when it heard the contractors had cut back Ms Naysmith's garden. She added any suggestion that the council was trying to intimidate Miss Naysmith was 'completely unjustified', reports The Guardian(p11).

IN BRIEF:

-- A leader column on the firefighters' strike in the Financial Times(p28) concudes that, 'the government must give stronger support to the employers in explaining their case to a public whose natural sympathies are with the firefighters. Tony Blair has made clear his opposition to the union claim but more needs to be heard from John Prescott, who - as deputy prime minister - is responsible for local government.'

-- Proceedings from anti-social behaviour orders were civil in character and consequently hearsay evidence was admissible; hovever, the court had to be satisfied to the criminal standard of proof that it was appropriate to make such an order, held the house of lords, reports The Times (p6). The cases considered included that of Clingham v Kensington & Chelsea RB.

-- The chairman of the LGA, Jeremy Beecham, has a letter in The Guardian(p19) on the firefighters' pay review, stating: 'The government has neither offered firefighters 4% nor prevented local authority employers from making a better offer.' His letter concludes: 'If the FBU had accepted the employers' proposal to set up an independent review three months ago, it would be reporting about now. The public would be entitled to wonder why their safety is now to be put at risk instead of the FBU's case being put to the review team and strike action deferred until it reports in mid-December.'

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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