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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 11:30HRS

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ELECTIONS 2004: LABOUR PREPARES TO LAUNCH LOCAL ELECTION AGENDA ...
ELECTIONS 2004: LABOUR PREPARES TO LAUNCH LOCAL ELECTION AGENDA

The Labour Party is still convinced that there is a contrast between the electorate's local optimism about the state of improving public services and its national pessimism, reports The Guardian(p1). Labour will launch its local election agenda on Tuesday, hoping to make inroads in some of the metropolitan seats lost four years ago. Yesterday's announcement of limited capping of 'overspending councils' (see LGCnet) may help, the paper believes. The party insists that it will run distinctive European and local campaigns, built around the theme that Britain is better under Labour.

EDUCATION WATCHDOG FAILING ITS STAFF

One in five staff at the Office for Standards in Education claims to have been bullied or harassed at work in the past 15 months, an unpublished survey has revealed. Questionnaires returned by more than 2,000 Ofsted staff suggest that one in three wants to leave and that there were more than 500 instances of bullying during 2003, reports The Times Education Supplement(p1).

REPORT NIGHLIGHTS WORSENING CONDITION OF ROADS IN ENGLAND AND WALES

Rural roads have deteriorated to their worst condition for 25 years, according to an official report (see LGCnet). It also revealed that one in five roads nationally fails to offer a safe level of skid resistance, reports the Daily Mail (p17).

IN DEPTH: TONI-ANN THE LATEST IN TROUBLING TIMELINE

A 30-year timeline in The Independent(p1) catalogues the victims of 'a system that has failed' over that period. However, the paper notes it is the pressure of paperwork wh ich 'stops social workers from working' ( p4), and a leading article ( p38) believes it would be 'simplistic, and wrong, to vilify all social workers over the Toni-Ann case'. On p4, The Independentinterprets of a key part of the Byfield report (see )LGCnet) as social workers being so obsessed with reuniting the girl with the convicted drug dealer everyone believed was her father, a man who had already been the target of one assassination attempt, that 'they broke child protection laws and ignored proper procedures.'

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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