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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 12:45HRS

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EXPERT HIGHLIGHTS PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION GAP ...
EXPERT HIGHLIGHTS PUBLIC SECTOR PENSION GAP

Public sector final salary pension schemes - a key recruiting tool for civil servants, NHS staff, teachers and local authority staff - could fall victim to the kind of crisis that hit private sector pensions. Association of Consulting Actuaries chairman Gordon Pollock warned on Thursday that public sector schemes, often funded by the taxpayer and paying up to two-thirds of final salary, 'do not look sustainable' given cuts elsewhere in pension provision', reports the Financial Times(p1). The best answer to the unsubstainable gap between the two sectors is to reduce the cost of public service schemes - for example by raising the retirement age as life expectancy rises, according to a leading article in the paper ( p16).

EXAM CHEATS ON THE INCREASE

The Times Educational Supplement(p1) reports that more than 2,000 pupils had marks cancelled for breaking the rules in last year's GCSE, A-level and vocational exams. Of these, half were penalised for either bringing mobile phones into the exam hall or cheating on coursework. The OCR exam board reported a 57% increase in pupils punished for GCSE and A-level rules, and a fourfold rise in pupil misbehaviour.

ELECTIONS 2004: CONTROVERSIAL DOCUMENTARY PULLED FOR FEAR OF VOTING VIOLENCE

The documentary Edge of the City, which claims that Asian men in Bradford are grooming under-age white girls for prostitution was pulled from the Channel 4 schedules last night after West Yorkshire Police said that it could provoke racial violence and disorder during the local election campaign. The British National Party, which is fielding ten candidates in Bradford, had described the film as a 'party political broadcast' and promoted it on its website. Channel 4 screened the documentary, which had been made in co-operation with Bradford City MDC social services, for West Yorkshire Police on Wednesday, reports The Times(p1). The paper's television reviewer adds ( p3) that according to the film, one of the four social services offices in the area has noted 60 to 80 possible cases, some involving girls as young as 12.

BEACH LIABILITY FEAR RESPONSIBLE FOR END OF WELSH COUNCIL POST-10 JUNE

Elections for seats on Pendine Community Council have been cancelled because no one wants to stand, reports The Times(p14). Apathy is not to blame, rather fear of liability for accidents on the council-owned Pendine Sands beach lies behind the decision by the seven members of the council not to stand for re-election.

MANCHESTER SUSPENSIONS CENTRAL TO NEW FIRE DISPUTE

Firemen in Dorset and Cleveland joined the unofficial action sweeping the country yesterday when they refused to provide non-emergency cover, reports The Daily Telegraph (p2). Sixteen officers were sent home in Greater Manchester for refusing to work on new 'instant response' vehicles, bringing the number of suspensions to 48. Nine Salford officers wouldn't sign an agreement to use the new equipment and were also sent home. Read the Greater Manchester chief fire officer's response on LGCnet.

ON THE MERGING OF EQUALITY BODIES

Labour MP for Leicester East and former minister for Europe Keith Vaz writes in The Guardian(p28) about the government's plans to merge race, sex and other public equality bodies into one new streamlined commission for equality and human rights. He believes the proposed new commission would be less than the sum of its parts, with these parts losing their character and bite if merged, and that the Commission for Racial Equality: 'Rather than rolling over and accepting these proposals ... should be taking a tough line to ensure that race remains at the top of this government's agenda.'

AND FINALLY ...

After resident Harry Sas complained to North Somerset DC that his street was dirty, council officials delivered tools for him to do the job himself. The council told The Daily Telegraph (p3): 'We try and clean the roads but there are nearly always cars parked there. We have also gone and picked up litter by hand. We did go out of our way to deliver a brush and litter picker to Mr Sas, but we will continue to clean the road at different times of the day.'

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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