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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 12:25HRS

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ALLIES TELL PRIME MINISTER TO COMPROMISE ON SCHOOLS OR FACE DISASTER...
ALLIES TELL PRIME MINISTER TO COMPROMISE ON SCHOOLS OR FACE DISASTER

Former health secretary Alan Milburn and former education secretary David Blunkett warned Tony Blair yesterday to compromise over his education reforms or face a political disaster if he crashes to defeat at the hands of his backbenchers. The warnings came as a YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph showed that approval ratings for education secretary Ruth Kelly, who drew up the policies, had plunged to new lows. Just 13% thought she was doing a 'good job', 61% said she was doing a 'bad job' and 26% did not have a view, the paper reports.

About 100 MPs and senior party figures - including Alastair Campbell, Neil Kinnock and former ministers Nick Raynsford and Estelle Morris - are opposed to key proposals in the white paper. But yesterday the rebels said they were discussing which changes to admissions policies and the role of local education authorities could win them over, reports The Guardian.

IN DEPTH: GLASGOW 11-YEAR-OLD ADMITTED TO HOSPITAL WITH APPARENT HEROIN ADDICTION

Yesterday a spokesman for Glasgow City Council told The Guardian that an 11-year-old girl had been admitted to hospital 'on an emergency basis with what appeared to be heroin intoxication', and that they would be continuing to monitor her today. Her parents were allowed to visit her with a team from the city's social work department. The girl later told social workers she had been catching a bus to Pollok shopping centre in south Glasgow where she bought£10 packages of heroin from a woman dealer, repaorts the Daily Mirror. Strathclyde police and social services have announced that they are launching separate investigations. A member of the council's policy and resources (community safety and health) sub-committee, Gaille McCann (pictured), claimed that the case was 'not an isolated incident', reports The Daily Telegraph. Ms McCann, the co-founder of Mothers Against Drugs, said: 'This is the harsh reality of the drug problem today and it must not just become a seven-day story but instead act as a wake-up call to us all, particularly the policy-makers in their ivory towers. They must look at the whole issue and the policies in place, from prevention and treatment to enforcement, because they have clearly failed this wee girl.'

COUNCIL TAX TO RISE BY MORE THAN INFLATION IN MOST AREAS

According to The Daily Telegraph, a Local Government Association study says today that more than a quarter of councils may have to cut services in a struggle to keep council tax bills to a minimum (see LGCnet).

'CONFIRMATION COUNCILS ARE STRUGGLING TO KEEP COUNCIL TAX DOWN' (Conservative Party)

LABOUR'S FITNESS REGIME IS 'HYPE' SAYS FITNESS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION DIRECTOR

Government plans to improve the health of the nation through more exercise and better diet are 'spin and hype', according to the chief executive of the nationwide chain of fitness centres LA Fitness. Fred Turok, who is also an FIA director, told The Times that since the publication of the Public Health White Paper 15 months ago there had been much talk but little action. There was no evidence of the£500m earmarked for primary care trusts to fulfil the promises in the White Paper, including the provision of 'health trainers' on the National Health Service. NHS PCTs

LONDON OLYMPICS ORGANISERS TO BLITZ BUILDING SCAMS

The organisers of the 2012 Olympics are preparing to use undercover surveillance to prevent construction firms from cheating to win£3bn of contracts to stage the London event, reports The Times.

John Alexander, head teacher of Abbots Farm Junior School in Rugby, learnt last week that Howard Evans (Roofing) had colluded with competitors to win a less Olympian contract, for replacing a flat roof at his school, the paper reports. He told The Times he was not surprised, as the workmen were caught having a round of golf on the playing fields, sunbathing on a school roof and sleeping in their van during the day, according to staff.

BANK TO LAUNCH MASSIVE COSTS CLAIM AGAINST BCCI LIQUIDATORS

The Bank of England is expected to begin one of the biggest claims for costs in English legal history today when it demands up to£80m from liquidators of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, reports The Guardian. The claim follows the collapse last November of an£850m suit brought by the BCCI liquidators against the Bank.

IN DEPTH: FORMER HOME SECRETARY HINTS AT EXIT DEAL BETWEEN PM AND CHANCELLOR

Senior Labour sources have dismissed speculation that Tony Blair had offered a timetable for his departure from Downing Street to Gordon Brown, prompted by David Blunkett's comment that there was 'a new understanding' between them, reports The Guardian. Asked about the relationship between the two men, Mr Blunkett told BBC1's Sunday AM programme: 'My sense is that there is a new understanding, yes ... When Tony Blair and Gordon Brown work together we are a winner, and when they are divided our opponents can divide us, it is as simple as that.' He added that it was 'self-evident' that the chancellor would succeed Mr Blair. 'And whether it is a year or two years, it actually will be a sensible process of combining the talents that we have.' A source close to Mr Brown said: 'The prime minister has made it clear he is stepping down during this parliament and that he wants a stable transition. Any suggestion that there is a new deal on that transition is totally wrong.'

PUPILS TOLD TO KEEP HEADS UP AND HANDS DOWN

Jo Richardson community school in Dagenham, East London has banned pupils from putting their hands up in an attempt to increase the attention of pupils and encourage those scared to put their hands up to become more involved in lessons, reports the Daily Mail. Instead of eager youngsters shooting their arms into the air, under the policy put in place by head master Andrew Buck, teachers will choose who answers the questions. The policy was welcomed by Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers. He said it was the first time he had heard of such a ban and added: 'When you listen to what the head says, there may be method in what at first appears to be madness.'

HOME SECRETARY FURY AT MET CHIEF'S SOHAM REMARK

Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair has been ordered to appear before Charles Clarke for what the Daily Mirror calls 'a carpeting' over the police chief's comments on the Soham murders. A Home Office source told the paper: 'The meeting will take place this week, possibly today. I think it would be fair to describe them as showdown talks.'

SKY PLANS SWITCHING TEACHERS' TV CHANNEL TO A 'SPECIALIST' CATEGORY WITH DATING AND PORN SKY'S BLUE THINKING: PLANS TO PUT TEACHERS' TV AMONGST PORN AND DATING CHANNELS

The broadcasting watchdog Ofcom is investigating plans by BSkyB to switch the Department for Education and Skills-funded Teachers' TV channel from its current slot to sit alongside pornography. National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers general secretary Chris Keats told the Daily Mirror: 'Expecting teachers, parents and children to scroll through inappropriate and potentially damaging channels shows a complete lack of awareness of the nature of Teachers' TV.'

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