Labour yesterday launched its local election campaign*, only for a group of cabinet ministers led by party chairman Charles Clarke to predict a wide variation in local results on 2 May. Labour expects the battleground of London to be especially difficult where the impact of London mayor Ken Livingstone and the public private partnership for the Tube could damage the party's hold on councils, reports The Guardian(p9). * Read about the launch on LGCnet . 'Blair braces himself for local election meltdown,' reports The Independent(p8), highlighting how the party faithful are becoming less so, which Labour expects will lead to huge losses.
The London Tourist Board head announced her resignation yesterday, claiming that the capital risked losing its status as a world city unless it urgently combated a drastic slump in visitors. Teresa Wickham accused the London mayor Ken Livingstone of failing to help the tourist industry out of crisis and having no strategy to stop the decline in overseas visitors, reports The Independent(p9).
- The Guardian(p9) looks at the perceived failure of traditional politics in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where the British National Party will be fielding five candidates in next month's local elections.
- A leader in the Financial Times(p20) considers the negligible effect on congestion of yesterday's 'unedifying political tussle for short-term advantage,' which 'misses the essential truth that road charging is good news for motorists.'
- The Financial Times(p20) carries a letter from the head of transport policy at the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Paul Hamblin. He is dissatisfied that despite the millions in hidden subsidies received by the aviation industry, it manages to dodge the climate change levy. Without a comprehensive, independent study to examine the full economic, social and environmental costs and benefits of air transport, he believes that 'the balance sheet presented to ministers as they develop their white paper will be partial and inadequate to the task.'
- Letters in The Times(p23) consider the use of anti-social behaviour orders, with a solicitor commenting: 'The allegation by the Home Office that defence solicitors are using delaying tactics in order to 'milk' what they can from the system is really too much to stomach. For the first time local authorities were charged with bringing before the magistrates' court 'unruly individuals' who had not committed any criminal offence. This in itself was a retrograde step because it was the first time in English law that a civil remedy, if breached, immediately attracted a criminal sanction.'
by assistant editor Neil Watson