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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 12:20HRS

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LONDON MAYOR BACKS MORE RUNWAYS AT GATWICK OR STANSTED...
LONDON MAYOR BACKS MORE RUNWAYS AT GATWICK OR STANSTED

Ken Livingstone is about to become deeply unpopular in parts of Essex and Sussex, having decided to throw his weight behind the construction of runways at either Stansted or Gatwick airports. In a blow to the green lobby and militant protestors in both areas, Mr Livingstone has concluded that the capital's economy is growing so fast that extra airports will be essential within the next 20 years, reports The Guardian(p8). See also POLLUTION EXPERTS ADVISE BANNING OF NEW RUNWAYSon LGCnet.

COUNCILS ATTACK WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION FOR TRADE LIBERALISATION THREAT TO PLANNING

The government was accused last night of giving up control of issues at the core of local government in WTO agreements being resolved in Geneva. The LGA is concerned that councils could lose their right to set tough planning laws in the little-known talks about deregulation of services. Alarmed at demands from Britain's trading partners, the LGA has written to its members warning that their ability to set rules in areas such as land use, licensing and environmental health could be threatened by provisions in the WTO's general agreement on trade in services (Gats), reports The Guardian(p23)

SCHRODERS TO HINT THAT EXPECTATIONS FOR FULL-YEAR PROFITS ARE TOO HIGH

The chief executive of investment group Schroders, Michael Dobson, is expected to warn the market of bad news this week. The new management team of Mr Dobson and financial director Jonathan Asquith is expected to hint that market expectations for full-year profits may be too high after continuing poor stock markets and fund outflows, reports the Financial Times(p27).

CONGESTION CHARGING TESTING CONTINUES TOWARDS ZERO STAFF GOAL

The Financial Timeslooks at the London congestion charging scheme - 'the biggest and most complex attempted in the world.' The computer hub for the scheme is in Hanbury Street near Spitalfields market, is run by support services company Capita, and housed in the London offices of Interxion, a Dutch company specialising in 'secure' locations for databases and back-up facilities.

A-LEVEL REPORT BLAMES ONE MAN AND URGES TIGHTER CONTROLS ON EXAM BOARD CHIEFS

One man plunged Tony Blair's government into the biggest examinations crisis in more than 50 years, the Tomlinson inquiry into the A level 'grade fixing' scandal has concluded. The chief executive of the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) Board, Ron McLone, triggered the chaos that led to a review of 350,000 exam papers by his insistence on grading A levels too harshly, the investigation by the former chief inspector of schools, Mike Tomlinson, has found, reports The Times(p1). The second part of his report is published tomorrow, in which he will reject Dr McClone view that A 2 had to be set at a harder standard than the old A level because the AS exam was easier.

IN BRIEF:

-- The Guardian(p10) reports on the 'agony of living with debt on your doorstep,'

in a report highlighting the Meadowell, Tyneside estate where 65% of homes pay a third of their income to credit companies. The paper looks at the establishment by Margaret Dolan of a credit union on the estate, and the New Economics Foundation thinktank's new report, 'Profiting from Poverty', which believes predatory lending is stripping out money from poor neighbourhoods in the UK.

-- Free bus passes for the elderly and disabled should be abolished, with the money saved going on discount travel for the unemployed, according to the government's Commission for Integrated Transport, reports The Times (p1). See PUT THE BUS AT HEART OF TRANSPORT DELIVERYon LGCnet.

-- Dirty and unhygienic school lavatories are threatening the health of children, say nurses working in education, reports the Daily Telegraph (p11). The nurses' union, the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors' Association, has raised its concerns with education departments in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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