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

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BIAS TOWARDS NORTHERN AND RURAL AREAS IN ALLOCATION OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT GRANTS ...
BIAS TOWARDS NORTHERN AND RURAL AREAS IN ALLOCATION OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT GRANTS

The government will today risk angering councils and schools in south-east England and London when local government minister Nick Raynsford announces changes to the Whitehall system of distributing£36bn each year to English councils. LGA head Sir Jeremy Beecham, said last night: 'What most authorities are looking for is something that takes more account of deprivation, low income and health, as well as a council's ability to pay.' A source told The Guardian(p8) that the shire district councils' hopes that the new system would benefit them were being overplayed.

IN DEPTH: EXPENSIVE, 'UNACCEPTABLE' B&B SOLUTION TO HOMELESSNESS IS ON THE INCREASE

The subject of an article on bed-and-breakfast accommodation in The Guardian(p8) is housed in a north-east London bed-and-breakfast at at cost to the taxpayer of£300 a week. More homeless households are living in temporary accommodation than ever before - 81,260, according to government figures - with almost 12,000 of those in hotels, described by the head of the government's bed and breakfast unit, Ashley Horsey, as 'far and away the least acceptable form of housing'. Official figures are alarming enough for the government, which last year made the pledge that no families with children would be in such accommodation by March 2004. It is earmarking£35m of the£125m it is spending to tackle homelessness, to deal with the hotel problem.

GOVERNMENT TO CONSIDER UNION BLOCK VOTE AS PART OF DONATIONS REFORM

Downing Street is to consider radical proposals to put an upper ceiling on all donations to political parties, including money from the trade unions, in an attempt to prevent union leaders from being seen to buy influence over Labour policy. Under the proposals, a cap of between£5,000 and£10,000 would be imposed on any political donation, reports The Guardian(p1).

IN DEPTH: PROSTITUTES' CARDS IN PHONE BOXES MAY LEAD TO THEIR EVITION

Prostitutes with cards advertising their services in phone boxes in central London are being evicted from their homes and in some cases deported as a result of a police crackdown on carding. Police in parts of the London borough of Westminster are carrying out the UK's first surveillance operation of the sex workers and the 'card boys' they employ to place the cards. Westminster LBC wants to rid the borough of prostitutes' cards as part of its initiative to make the West End of London more family friendly, working with telecoms firms on call barring, with BT call baring 500 lines, reports The Guardian(p10).

PLANNING RESTRICTIONS SCRAPPED TO AID REGENERATION OF POOREST AREAS

Planning restrictions on new businesses will be thrown up in up to 2,000 areas in a move to revive some of Britain's poorest regions, chancellor Gordon Brown and deputy prime minister John Prescott have agreed. Developers in 'business planning zones' will be able to build without planning permission as part of measures to be set out alongside the chancellor's three-year spending review which will be published next week, reports the Financial Times)p1).

IN BRIEF:

-- The driver of a digger used by Rushmoor BC contractors revamping a small park and pulling up a few bushes hit the foundations of resident Roop Samplas' five-bedroom house next door, reports The Sunp9). Workmen pulled down more of the linked house yesterday amid fears of a new collapse, and the council is investigating.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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