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

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KENT CC LEADER'S NEGATIVE REACTION TO BYERS' AIRPORT PLANS MAY BE FIRST OF MANY ...
KENT CC LEADER'S NEGATIVE REACTION TO BYERS' AIRPORT PLANS MAY BE FIRST OF MANY

The leader of Kent CC, Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, said yesterday he had told transport department officials that there would be protests if transport secretary Stephen Byers pursues the 'unrealistic dream' of an airport on the marshes near Cliffe, a small village north of the cathedral city of Rochester. The warning is typical of the reaction Mr Byers is likely to get from council leaders all over the country as he struggles to provide capacity to cope with a forecast doubling of air traffic movements in 15 to 20 years, reports The Financial Times(p11)

HOME SECRETARY'S POLICE REFORM BILL FACES DEFEAT IN HOUSE OF LORDS

David Blunkett's flagship police reform bill is facing defeat in the house of lords, where peers say it is the first step towards 'people being taken away in the night'. Conservatives and Liberal Democrats claim the home secretary's plan to take powers to sack chief constables threatens the rule of law and is a step towards a police state, reports the Financial Times(p4).

ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF PROPOSED CROSS-LONDON RAIL LINK OUTWEIGH COST

Economic analysis of plans for a main line rail service linking Heathrow airport to the City of London and the booming docklands area shows that the long-term benefits would be double the costs, the government will be told next week. Cross London Rail Link, the company set up to develop the Crossrail 1 scheme, will tell a high-level group chaired by transport minister John Spellar, that the project has a cost/ benefit analysis ratio of almost 2:1, reports the Financial Times(p4).

IN DEPTH: PUBLIC SECTOR PAY STRIKE LOOMS AS UNIONS REACT TO COUNCILLORS' WAGE HIKE

The first national strike in more than 20 years is in prospect after trade unions last night threatened to ballot more than a million public sector workers on industrial action in a dispute over pay. Three big public sector unions - Unison, the GMB and the Transport and General Workers' Union - said they were urging their 1.2 million members to reject a proposed 3 per cent pay rise. Jack Dromey of the TGWU warned that local government was on the brink of the first national strike since the 1978-79 'winter of discontent'. Citing big pay awards for councillors, union negotiators are demanding the bigger of either a£1,750 increase in basic pay or a 6 per cent rise, reports the Financial Times(p4).

PERFORMANCE-RELATED PAY INCENTIVE FOR NEW MANDARINS TO ACHIEVE GOVERNMENT OBJECTIVES

The maximum pay of newly-recruited top civil servants will rise from£179,000 to£245,000 a year in a shake-up announced yesterday, designed to encourage recruitment from the private sector, reports The Independent (p8). The salaries of MPs and ministers, which are linked to those of senior officials, will also rise by 2.5%.

WELSH POLICE DEFEND THEIR USE OF RUBBER BULLETS

The first person in mainland Britain to be shot with a rubber bullet was lucky not to have been fired at and killed with live ammunition, a police officer said yesterday. The deputy chief constable of north Wales, Bill Brereton, said that last year's use of a baton round against a man threatening to stab his two children was justified and had given his officers a 'non lethal' option not available to them, The Guardian(p15).

WALES SWAMPED BY TIDE OF SETTLERS FROM ACROSS THE BORDER

Cymuned, a new pressure group dedicated, like others before it, to protecting the culture and language of Wales, claims claims that Welsh culture is at risk as 'foreigners' push locals out of housing market. But it is also fighting a housing crisis prompted, it claims, by English incomers who snap up homes for holidays or retirement at prices locals cannot match, reports The Guardian(p14).

IN BRIEF:

-- The Guardian(p11) looks at examples of people in the 'cash trap', where property prices keep public sector staff out of expensive areas such as Reading in Berkshire, leading them to commute long distances from their homes to their workplaces.

-- Oldham MBC leaders insisted yesterdaythat they could not afford changes recommended by an independent inquiry into race disturbances last May, and that they would not engage in 'artificial social engineering' designed to abolish Asian ghettos, reports The Independent (p3).

-- A law report in The Times (p43) look at the education case of Merton v South Ayrshire Council, where it was ruled that equal salary rate comparators need not be employed by the same local authority.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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