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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 12:35HRS

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ELECTIONS 2004: MINISTERS FACE DEFEAT OVER POSTAL VOTING PILOTS ...
ELECTIONS 2004: MINISTERS FACE DEFEAT OVER POSTAL VOTING PILOTS

The government is facing defeat in the Lords today over its plans to extend postal voting in the European and local elections on 'super Thursday', 10 June, reports The Times. Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are banding together to stop trials of all-postal balloting in four regions in the north-west, Yorkshire and Humberside, which have about nine million voters.

CENTRAL GOVERNMENT REPEATS COUNCIL TAX CAPPING THREATS

John Prescott has told The Times(p10) he will use his powers to cap council tax rises if local authorities did not keep them in 'low single figures'. Local government minister Nick Raynsford also suggested that council tax rises would be 'significantly' smaller than last year. He told Sky TV's Sunday with Adam Boulton: 'The levels are coming down very, very significantly. The sort of figures I am seeing are very different to last year. In general the figures are well into single figures.'

THINK-TANK'S REPORT OPTIMISTIC ABOUT ELECTED MAYORS

The 11 mayors in the New Local Government Network's latest report (see LGCnet) include those of Hackney LBC, Lewisham LBC and Newham LBC, Watford BC, Stoke on Trent City Council and North Tyneside MBC, but exclude London mayor Ken Livingstone, notes the Financial Times(p4). The network believes this summer's mayoral contest in London will stimulate fresh interest in creating more elected mayors, and its report suggests ways of encouraging more referendums, which can be triggered by a petition bearing 5 per cent of local voters' signatures.

PUBLIC SECTOR PAY MODERNISATION HIT BY SPENDING CURBS

Following Incomes Data Services' report that the Treasury's attempt to modernise public sector earnings and recruit staff has collided with its desire to hold pay back to control spending and borrowing (see LGCnet(p4), the Financial Times(p4) considers the long-term pay deals and pay restructuring being put in place in local government and the public sector. The independent pay monitoring body cites the Treasury's staging of teachers' pay increases as a step towards holding rises down to 2%.

SHADOW CHANCELLOR SAYS COLLEAGUES ARE 'SIGNED UP' TO PUBLIC SPENDING CUTS

The shadow cabinet is united over Conservative plans to cut public spending by up to£35bn a year, shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin insisted yesterday in the face of a frontbench battle over defence, transport and international development spending, reports the Financial Times(p4). Under the Tory proposals health, education and pensions would be protected from the drive to put a lid on spending, with savings from across the rest of Whitehall.

LABOUR MP DESELECTED IN FAVOUR OF COUNCILLOR

Labour MP Jane Griffiths has been deselected as the party's candidate for the Reading East constituency. Despite having successfully fought the seat in the last two general elections, local party members voted to replace her as their candidate for the next election with Local Government Association transport executive vice-chair Tony Page, reports the Financial Times(p4).

DIXON AND DIXONS - DELIVERING MODERN NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICING

London's Metropolitan Police will today announce a radical plan to sell more than half its buildings, currently valued at£900m, with the money used to finance a huge overhaul of the Met's ability to deliv er modern neighbourhood policing, reports the Financial Times(p1). Under the shake-up, some police station 'front offices' will be relocated to places such as shopping centres and public libraries. The aim is have a 'flexible estate that is deployed close to crime 'hot spots'.' The paper notes that the Met already has a desk in a Tesco supermarket in Rainham.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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