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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 11:05HRS

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INSURERS WARN THAT PRESCOTT'S THOUSANDS OF NEW HOUSES FACE 'UNACCEPTABLE' FLOOD RISK...
INSURERS WARN THAT PRESCOTT'S THOUSANDS OF NEW HOUSES FACE 'UNACCEPTABLE' FLOOD RISK

Eighty-five thousand houses in the Thames Gateway need to be built with living spaces on the first floor because of the risk of flooding, the Association of British Insurers told John Prescott yesterday. A report by the association said that a third of the housing developments in the deputy prime minister's proposed south-east growth areas were located in flood plains where the risk was 'unacceptably high', reports The Daily Telegraph (p4).

CAPITA EDUCATION LOYALTY CARD PPP SCHEME FAILS

A public-private partnership which aimed to get 16- to 19-year-olds to stay on in education in return for loyalty card points has not been effective, according to independent research for the Department for Education (summary available here). The Connexions card was launched in 2001 in a£108m deal with a consortium led by Capita, as part of a government drive to combat Britain's drop-out rate at 16, which is one of the highest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development group of developed nations, reports the Financial Times (p6).

RESIDENTS MAY GET RADICALLY IMPROVED POWERS OVER FAILING COUNCILS IN LABOUR MANIFESTO

John Prescott's plans to empower local people by allowing them to trigger action by councils if services fall below standards (see LGCnet) protect local authorities and fall short of any compulsory action over mayors, but more radical plans may be included in the election manifesto, reports The Times (p2). A headline in The Daily Telegraph (p4) announces: 'Blair's pet idea for elected mayors revived.'

IN DEPTH: REPORT ON PUBLIC SECTOR VALUE-FOR-MONEY DUE BEFORE ELECTION

The government could be handed a pre-election windfall from plans that emerged yesterday to rush out a report on value for money in public services just before polling day, reports The Independent (p36). The Office of National Statistics said it planned to incorporate major changes to the way the output of education, public order and social services are calculated when calculating economic growth (see LGCnet). National statistician Len Cook said he aimed to publish the changes to historic figures in nine key areas 'before the end of April'. The figures could potentially lead to a massive improvement tothe measurement of public sector output and productivity going back several years for areas such as schools, childcare, prisons and the police. 'Anyone expecting guidance on the success of such spending from yesterday's review of government productivity .. will be deeply disappointed,' accorting to a leading article in The Guardian (p21), 'And a good thing, too.'

GIANT LEISURE PARK PLANNED TO AID PIT VILLAGE REGENERATION

Property developer Oak Holdings yesterday unveiled plans to build Europe's largest leisure resort, less than a mile from the Yorkshire village of Orgreave, scene of violent clashes between police and pickets during the 1984 miners' strike. The company has teamed up with Rotherham MBC to submit outline plans for a£300m scheme to regenerate 320 acres of brownfield land adjoining the Rother Valley, reports The Times (p43).

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