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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 12:10HRS

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BLAIR BACKS BENEFIT CRACKDOWN BILL TO REDUCE ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR ...
BLAIR BACKS BENEFIT CRACKDOWN BILL TO REDUCE ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

Tony Blair is intensifying his law and order crackdown by backing plans to dock housing benefit from tenants the courts find guilty of antisocial behaviour twice in three years. The measure, originally tabled by former Labour social security minister Frank Field, has won support from the department for work and pensions, as well as the DTLR. Mr Field has already had discussions with the local government secretary Stephen Byers and is in talks with the home office, reports The Guardian(p1). Also see LGCnetfor 'ANTI-SOCIAL NEIGHBOURS COULD LOSE HOUSING BENEFITS'

JEWISH COMMUNITY FEARFUL OF ANTI-SEMITISM'S SPREAD FROM MAINLAND EUROPE TO BRITAIN

Worshippers at a Finsbury Park, north London synagogue yesterday were greeted by the sight of the desecration of their place of worship. The vandals forced their way into the synagogue late on Saturday night, smashing at least 20 windows and ransacked the building, tossing personal possessions to the ground. The timing, ahead of a record number of British National Party candidates standing in Thursday's local government elections, may be significant, reports The Independent(p1).

SHOW ME THE MONKEYS

Under the headline 'Let's breathe some life into our local councils before the monkeys take over', an editorial in The Independent(p16) gloomily opines: 'As local government matters less, so do local elections. This week turnout is expected to be at an all-time low.' Thankfully, the 'monkeys' in the headline refer to Hartlepool United's monkey mascot mayoral candidate H'angus.

IN BRIEF:

- Will innovation - from powerful mayors to text message voting and all-postal ballots - conquer electoral apathy? 'The dismal likelihood is that it will not,' believes The Guardian(p19), but the leader also provides a potential solution. 'Perhaps the lesson of this week's elections is that linking local voting to local change is the only way to prevent its demise.'

- Under the headline ''Tome Raider' faces jail term after ransacking libraries for rare books', The Independent(p3) reports on a member of the public who faces a lengthy jail term after being convicted of plundering£1.1m worth of historic books from libraries. illiam Jacques ransacked hundreds of first-edition books from the British Library, Cambridge University Library and the London Library, and then sold them at auction houses.

- A news analysis in The Independent(p15) looks at why the UK thelong-hours culture is as strong as ever, when European employees are spending less time in offices and factories.

- Coopers & Lybrand has lost its appeal over its role as auditor to Barings, the investment bank that collapsed in 1995 under the weight of losses run up by 'rogue trader' Nick Leeson, reports the Financial Times(p3).

- The European commission has launched a formal investigation into whether the part-privatisation of the London Underground infrastructure breaches European union rules on competition and state aid, reports Financial Times(p2).

- Cllr Patrick Kelly, member for education, Southwark LBC, has a letter in The Independent (p17) about Labour's commitment to education as a way of tackling crime and drawing attention to Peckham's brand new£20m city academy, opening shortly.

- The Independent Review (p4-p6) looks at the insouciant new breed of urban supermouse, Mus nusculus, which is posing a threat to both housing and public health.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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