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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 11:50HRS

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CHANCELLOR REJECTS UNION CALL FOR HALT TO PFI ...
CHANCELLOR REJECTS UNION CALL FOR HALT TO PFI

Gordon Brown yesterday dismissed union demands for a halt to the private finance initiative as 'completely unacceptable', bringing the government closer to a head-on collision with the unions over public services. In what could prove a blow to the government's hopes of avoiding defeat on the issue at the Labour party conference, Derek Simpson, the leftwinger recently elected joint general secretary of Amicus, said he would press his union to join others in voting for a moratorium on PFI projects, reports the Financial Times(p2).

TRAFFIC PUTS TRANSPORT MINISTER UNDER PRESSURE ON ROAD PRICING

Alistair Darling came under further pressure yesterday to introduce road pricing in the next decade after a study concluded it was the most effective way to ease congestion in one of the country's worst traffic hotspots. The report commissioned by the government, covering the M1, M62, M18 and A1 in South and West Yorkshire, proposes a series of road widening and improvement schemes at a cost of£700m over the next 10 to 12 years, reports the Financial Times(p2).

PRIME MINISTER TAKES ON UNIONS BY PLANNING NEW ROLE FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR

Tony Blair plans to give the private sector a bigger role in the running of public services despite calls by trade unions yesterday for a halt to the private finance initiative (PFI). Downing Street and cabinet ministers are drawing up proposals that could eventually allow hospitals and schools to become 'public interest companies' enjoying much greater freedom from Whitehall control, reports The Independent(p2).

LABOUR'S MAYORAL HOPEFULS

Labour has selected its shortlist of three candidates, including former sports minister Tony Banks, to stand against London mayor Ken Livingstone. The Labour MP for West Ham joins the current deputy mayor, Nicky Gavron, and former Harrow LBC leader Bob Shannon. Mr Livingstone has urged Labour members to back Ms Gavron, reports the Financial Times (p2).

GOVERNMENT WARNED OVER PLANS FOR ENGLISH DEVOLUTION

English devolution is unlikely to work unless it is introduced in all eight regions outside London, the government was warned last night by the head of a leading professional organisation. Peter Wyman, president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, said a survey of the organisation's 123,000 members had revealed deep scepticism about Labour's devolution proposals, reports the Financial Times(p4).

IN BRIEF:

-- Radio 4's Todayprogramme has revealed the results of its Streets of Shame competition in conjunction with CABE - the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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