Stephen Byers has been forced to drop his opposition to road tolls after Tony Blair insisted that they be considered as a solution to chronic congestion. The transport secretary has now belatedly conceded that access to overcrowded motorways and A roads may have to be controlled through tolls within ten years, reports The Times(p3).
The government is planning to introduce a tax of 9p on every plastic shopping bag in an attempt to reduce litter and pollution, according to the environment minister, Michael Meacher, reports The Guardian(p1). The move mirrors a successful scheme in the Irish Republic, and is part of a refreshed green agenda for Labour, which may also include introducing anti-litter and anti-graffiti wardens with the power to fine offenders, Mr Meacher tells The Guardian(p9) today. In the interview, he reveals a personal idea with 'the authority of the prime minister' and 'well in advance of government policy'. It is for environmental wardens: someone on patrol, with some kind of uniform, who would be employed by local authorities to stop littering and dog-fouling and graffiti, with the powers to take names and addresses and impose fines. 'Now I think that's terrific, I think that's exactly right and I'm keen that we do it. Obviously you have to pay the environmental wardens in the first place, but if they had the power to say 'look, pick that up' or 'I saw you do that, what's your name and address, I'm fining you', they would pay for themselves several times over, you could have more wardens.' In the first of a three-part investigation into 'the world of waste', The Guardian(G2, p2) focuses on bin men.
FREE SWIMMING SCHEME FOR UNDER-18s IN HEALTH DRIVE
The success of a year-old experiment by Glasgow City Council in allowing all under-18s free swimming has prompted ministers at Westminster to encourage a similar trial south of the border. Use of swimming pools by children and young people in Glasgow has risen by 120%, more in some of the city's most deprived areas, raising hopes that permanent improvements in the health and lifestyle of Glasgow's children can be achieved. The public health minister in England, Yvette Cooper, will today invite councils and their local partners in tackling social problems to compete for funds aimed at widening community opportunities for exercise. She wants at least one of the winning bids from the nine English regions to offer a free swimming package, although other proposals will be welcomed, reports The Guardian(p6).
LONDON MAYOR KEN LIVINGSTONE PRESSES LABOUR PARTY TO READMIT HIM
Ken Livingstone will today increase the pressure on Tony Blair to readmit him to the Labour fold by writing to every senior figure in the London party calling on them to endorse him as their mayoral candidate. In a carefully-timed intervention, as Labour's ruling executive considers the selection process for the mayoral election in 2004, Mr Livingstone declares he has been loyal to Labour values in his two years as mayor, reports The Guardian(p10). No party decision on Mr Livingstone is expected before August.
UP TO A FIFTH OF TEACHERS TAKE A SECOND JOB TO MAKE ENDS MEET
Analysis by the Office of National Statistics has concluded that 84,000 teachers moonlight at weekends and during holidays to supplement their earnings, which teaching union leaders have said supports their demands for higher pay. The figures, which do not include undeclared work, show that half the moonlighters took teaching-related jobs such as private tuition, with the remainder taking casual work in bars and factories, reports The Times(p8).
OWNERS MUST PAY FOR USING COMMON LAND TO ACCESS THEIR HOMES.
Hundreds of homeowners can expect hefty bills for the privilege of driving on common land to reach their houses under new rules designed to clear up anomalies in land law. Owners homes were built after 1930, when the Road Highways Act made it an offence to drive on all common land, will have to pay the maximum 2 per cent of the value of their property to landowners in order to acquire permanent right of access, reports The Times(p6).
- Cllr Diane Packham, a member of Newcastle City Council's social services committee, has a letter in The Times(p19) on the issue of jailing the parents of truanting children. 'If the law were to be applied fairly, Estelle Morris should be calling for the imprisonment of councillors who, as corporate parents, have the ultimate responsibility for looked-after children.'
AND FINALLY ...
Nudists from the Lakeland Outdoor Club near Millom in southwest Cumbria are celebrating victory in a planning dispute with ramblers who wanted to create a right of way through their camp. Millom Parish Council applied to Cumbria CC in 2000 to have the path reinstated as an official right of way. Now, after a public inquiry last October, Tom Millington, planning inspector, says in his report that the evidence supplied by the county council was insufficient to establish that a right of way existed on the path, reports The Times(p5).
by assistant editor Neil Watson