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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 11:00

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FOSTER PARENT SHORTAGE REACHES CRISIS POINT ...
FOSTER PARENT SHORTAGE REACHES CRISIS POINT

Research shows that a shortage of foster parents could lead to a major care crisis in Britain, reports The Daily Telegraph (p4). The Fostering Network says that the shortage has exceeded 8,100 for the first time. The charity also says that carers in two thirds of local authorities are given allowances less than the Network's recommended minimum. (A press releaseand radio coverageon this issue is also available on LGCnet)

OFT INVESTIGATE PROPERTY SEARCH TRADE

The Office of Fair Trading is to study the property search market following complaints that local authorities have abused their positions, reports the Daily Telegraph(p27). One company, The Property Search Group, claims that councils are illegally restricting access to public information needed by solicitors and conveyancers therefore giving them a competitive advantage.

COUNCIL TAXPAYERS FOOT HOTEL BILL FOR YOUNG OFFENDERS

Social services were forced to put 14-year-old suspects up in a hotel when no secure premises could be found, reports The Times(p2). Council taxpayers in Leeds will have to foot the£900 a night bill, totalling around£3,640 including security staff.

COUNCIL BANS CALL TO PRAYER

A Blackburn mosque has been refused permission to broadcast the call to prayer through its loundspeakers, reports The Guardian(p7). Blackburn-with-Darwen council has rejected a plea to lift the 20-year ban on the grounds that not all residents in the Audley Range area of the town are Muslim. Although the adhaanhad been broadcast regularly over the last ten years, the mosque only discovered that it required permission following recent complaints.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT COULD BE A DISAPPOINTMENT TO ORDINARY CITIZENS

The Freedom of Information Act is set to be a disappointment to the general public, says Alex Wade in a feature in The Times (T2, p23). Although local authorities and other public bodies are preparing for a new era of open government, it's thought that exemptions from the duty to disclose and the cost of searching for information mean that ordinary citizens might struggle to get what they want.

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