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

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PRESCOTT PLANS TAX BREAKS FOR REGENERATION DEVELOPERS ...
PRESCOTT PLANS TAX BREAKS FOR REGENERATION DEVELOPERS

Developers could be offered US-style tax breaks in return for providing community amenities under plans being formulated by John Prescott to kick-start new housing developments in run-down areas of Britain. With a Treasury-commissioned report this week likely to call for measures to simplify planning and speed up building to solve a housing shortage, the deputy prime minister is putting together a package of incentives, reports The Guardian.

CHANCELLOR URGED TO BOOST HOUSING

Gordon Brown will be urged this week to use public funds to help solve Britain's housing problems, in a move that would put more pressure on the government's overstretched finances. The Financial Times(p1) has learnt that a study by the economist Kate Barker, commissioned by the Treasury and to be published alongside the pre-Budget report on Wednesday, makes the case for higher spending on social housing to address the imbalances in the supply of affordable accommodation. Her final recommendations, due in the spring, may raise the prospect of an extension of the housing benefit to help those unable to afford soaring rents.

POLL FINDS LABOUR VIEWED AS PARTY OF TAXATION

The economic credibility of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown is dealt a severe blow today, with striking evidence that voters are tired of paying more taxes and want to see public spending brought under control. The findings of a YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph (p1) confirm that Labour has established itself in the eyes of a disillusioned electorate as the party of rising taxes.

SHOULD GOVERNMENT PLOUGH ALL SPEED CAMERA PROFITS BACK INTO ROAD SAFETY?

All profits from speed camera fines must be devoted to improving road safety if the government is to avoid a backlash from motorists, a senior adviser to ministers is to say this week. A surplus of more than £20m from camera fines is expected to be generated for the Exchequer next year, according to the government's Commission for Integrated Transport. It will recommend that the money is channelled into paying for 400 more traffic police, reports The Times(p8).

THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE COMMUTER (ONE MORE UNTO BREICH, DEAR TRAINS)

Commuter Jim Warnock, the only passenger to use the daily service from Breich, West Lothian to Edinburgh, has won his four-year single-handed battle against plans by the Strategic Rail Authority, which has now agreed to keep the tiny, unstaffed station open as long as he continues to use it, reports The Times(p8).

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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