The mammoth expansion of Heathrow airport; an explosive doubling of military training in a tranquil national park; a major road-scheme through cherished and protected countryside; and lots more houses on greenfield sites in the South-west. Voters learning of and affected by these projects might not be in the mood -to vote Labour on 7 June, so the government has quietly put them off. In each case, it has been in a position to make a decision for some time, probably already has in principle, and the likelihood is that all the projects will be given the go-ahead, to howls of protest from those affected, reports The Independent(p6).
NEW INDEX INDICATES REGIONAL IMBALANCES WILL WIDEN
A concentration of dynamic, growing businesses in London and the south-east will enable the region to enjoy well above average economic performance over the next year, but Wales, the West Midlands and the north-east will perform more than 10 per cent below the average. This is the conclusion of a new index of regional prospects reported in the Financial Times(p4), suggesting most regions can expect economic performance within 10 per cent of the national average. At the extremes, London scores 33 per cent higher than average, while Wales ranks bottom with 23 per cent lower than average.
EMPLOYERS DEALT TRUMP CARD AS 'E-BREAKS' REPLACE TEA BREAKS
Employees could soon be given a daily quota of personal web surfing, but just as the length of tea breaks sparked industrial strife, the frequency and duration of their internet equivalents are already threatening to cause friction. Systems giving staff a limited period of time to surf the net are being launched by software providers Websense in the US and Surfcontrol in the UK to crack down on time-wasting internet use at work. They say the feature, which enable termaination of employees' web connections after a time by managers, improves existing packages that permit employers to ban access to certain websites or at fixed times, reports the Financial Times(p4).
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS MAY NOT MIX AS LABOUR WOULD HOPE
A comment piece in Financial Timesbelieves that Labour's manifesto has opened the door to an idea which is really big but now new: that all public services, from healthcare to schools to what used to be called council housing, could be funded out of taxation but provided entirely by the private sector. Some within the Conservative party have long yearned for such a model - witness the Tories' lengthy and finally unsuccessful flirtation with education vouchers for schools - and in many areas of government, public funded of private provision is already happening
by Assistant Editor Neil Watson