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

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WHITEHALL'S FAILURE TO THINK STRATEGICALLY ABOUT LOCAL GOVERNMENT CREATES 'GULF' ...
WHITEHALL'S FAILURE TO THINK STRATEGICALLY ABOUT LOCAL GOVERNMENT CREATES 'GULF'

Improvement and Development Agency head Lucy de Groot believes the government had 'got itself in a really difficult situation' over council tax rises. Ms de Groot, the former director of public services at the Treasury who left to head the IDeA, told the Financial Times(p3): 'The philosophy of genuinely mutual respect between central and local government is more talked about than practised. Which isn't to say there haven't been some good developments, but I think there is still quite a profound gulf, a misunderstanding, between the two sectors.'

LOCAL TAXATION: DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION

The Financial Times(p3) believes that Labour may find its hand forced over local taxation, an issue to which governments 'have turned a blind eye' for years. LGA leader Sir Jeremy Beecham, the Conservative leader on the LGA Peter Chalke, local government minister Nick Raynsford, shadow deputy prime minister Edward Davey, Greater London Group director at the London School of Economics, Tony Travers, and Professor Iain McLean of Nuffield College, Oxford, are all quoted on the subject.

CHANCELLOR PLANS TO DOUBLE AIRPORT TAX

The Department of Transport and the Treasury are proposing to raise air passenger duty from £5 to £10 on economy tickets within Britain and from the UK to Europe, with the rate climbing from £20 to as much as £40 for other destinations. The controversial move, confirmed to The Guardian(p1) by a Whitehall source as 'under serious consideration' for inclusion in a white paper on aviation to be published in December, was welcomed by the green lobby.

LARGEST RESIDENTIAL SKYSCRAPER IN BRITAIN WILL DOMINATE MANCHESTER SKYLINE

Brit ain's highest residential building - a 157-metre (520ft) glass tower with 47 storeys - is to be built in Manchester, reports The Independent(p9). The proposed Beetham Tower in Deansgate will hold more than 200 apartments and penthouses, and a five-star 285-bed Hilton hotel. Tony Burns, chairman of Manchester City Council's planning committee, said he was 'delighted' the project had been approved.

MOTHERS LOSE THEIR RIGHT TO BREAST-FEED THEIR BABIES IN WORKPLACE CRECHES

A tribunal ruled yesterday that women who bring their babies to work have no right to take breaks to breast-feed, reports the Daily Mail (p1).

'PROUD RECORD OF HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS'

Under the above heading, National Housing Federation head of finance policy Bob Wilson and former William Sutton Housing Trust general manager and secretary C V Baker write to correct, respectively, 'an unnecessarily doom-laden picture' of and an 'alarming assessment' of housingassociations' financial health.

In a letter to The Guardian (p23), Local Government Information Unit chief Dennis Reed refers to the unprecedented 'consensus in local government about the unsustainable nature of the council tax and the need for fundamental reform.' Oxford University professor Iain McLean believes local government minister Nick Raynsford should be 'bolder still' than introducing local income tax.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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