Former Westminster City Council Tory leader Shirley Porter has finally failed to clear herself of the disgrace of having sold council homes at a discount in order to influence council elections, reported The Guardian(31/5/03, p11). The European Court of Human Rights threw out her appeal as 'manifestly ill-founded'. On hearing the ruling, former Labour Westminster councillor Peter Bradley, now MP for The Wrekin, urged Porter to pay a £26.4m surcharge for gerrymandering, saying: 'This ruling means that Shirley Porter does not even have the suggestion of a fig leaf to cover her guilt. There is nothing left.' The paper is doubtful that Dame Shirley will ever pay up, although it notes that Westminster is still pursuing the money.
Activists fighting plans for any new runway at Gatwick have broken ranks with national anti-airport groups by pointing out the benefits of expansion at Stansted, triggering claims of civil war among environmental campaigners, reports The Guardian(p7). The Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign has published a document suggesting that a new runway at Stansted or a new airport at Cliffe in north Kent would be preferable to Gatwick expansion in terms of noise, air pollution and economic impact.
NEW PLANNING RULES INCREASE INTEREST IN EUROPE'S LARGEST SHOPPING CENTRE
The Bluewater shopping centre may be put up for sale, its owners Lend Lease said yesterday. The move would trigger a huge amount of interest, reports The Independent(p15) as new planning rules mean that Bluewater is likely to remain as one of just half a dozen gargantuan retail sites in the UK.
FURTHER DELAY FOR LONDON TERRORIST DRILL
Plans to simulate a successful terrorist attack on central London have been delayed until September at the earliest, prompting fresh criticism of the government's ability to cope with a chemical or biological attack, reports the Financial Times (p3). The drill, involving members of the public, the emergency services, ministers and local authorities, was originally postponed from 23 March due to the firefighters' strike.
CAN 'THE BILBAO EFFECT' AID REGENERATION OF CULTURE CAPITAL CONTENDERS?
With the Newcastle & Gateshead bid favourite to become European Capital of Culture, narrowly leading Liverpool and Birmingham, The Guardian(G2, p2) considers whether 'pouring money into cultural landmarks' can regenerate run-down areas.
BURNLEY BACKGROUND OF DEPRIVATION ALLOWS BRITISH NATIONAL PARTY TO SUCCEED
In addition to charting '100 Days of Congestion Charging', the Financial Times Magazine(31/5/03, p14) looked at Burnley, where it looked at the poor housing and social conditions behind the British National Party's disturbing successes.
by assistant editor Neil Watson