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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 13:20HRS

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NO PUBLIC FUNDS WILL BE USED TO COMMEMORATE JUBILEE ...
NO PUBLIC FUNDS WILL BE USED TO COMMEMORATE JUBILEE

No public funds will be used to subsidise street parties, or pop concerts at Buckingham Palace in the summer. A survey in The Mail on Sunday showed that 49 out of 130 local councils questioned had no plans for any events to mark the occasion, reports The Times(p8).

PRESCOTT DETERMINED TO STAY TO SEE FRUITION OF LOCAL GOV'T AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS

John Prescott indicated his determination last night to continue his government career beyond the next election, after claims that he was planning to leave parliament in three years' time. Friends of the Deputy Prime Minister said he wanted to see long-term projects, in such areas as local government and the environment, through to fruition past the next election, which is expected to take place in 2005, reports The Independent(p2).

BUS INDUSTRY'S PROBLEMS MAY BE COMPARABLE WITH RAIL

About 2 million bus services are to be axed next year, amid growing concern in the industry that bus transport is more troubled than the highly-publicised problems on the national rail network. Local government transport managers said rising labour costs meant they would need a 10 per cent increase in budgets to stop 2 million subsidised and commercially-operated journeys being cut, reports the Financial Times(p4).

IN DEPTH: CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO LIST BRITAIN'S LIDOS

A campaign has been launched the the Twentieth Century Society, aiming to persuade the department for culture, media and sport to preserve the 1920s and 1930s lidos of Britain by granting them listed status. Emmanuelle Morgan, a spokeswoman for the society, said the aim was to use lottery funding. Outdoor pools had failed to win sports lottery fund money, so salvation lay in getting them listed, the only route to heritage lottery cash. 'Despite the indifference of generations of councillors, the lido provided the equivalent of today's gym: combining fitness and social interaction,' Ms Morgan said.

High Court asked to end '15 years of planning blight hell' ...

HIGH COURT TO BEGIN JUDICIAL REVIEW OF CONTROVERSIAL 15-YEAR PLANNING BATTLE

A couple's 15-year fight for compensation after they lost their home, their business and their savings through plans to build a bypass 12 ft from the bedroom window of their property, will enter its final round tomorrow. The treatment that Maurice and Audrey Balchin received over the years from Norfolk CC, the department of transport and the local government ombudsman has been branded 'a disgrace' by a high court judge. Tomorrow, the high court in London will begin a full judicial review of the case which, if it finds that the planners acted unlawfully or against natural justice, will entitle the Balchins to compensation running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, reports The Daily Telegraph(p4).

GAY COUPLES TO REGISTER DEATHS

Homesexual men and women will be allowed to register the deaths of their partners under changes to the registration procedure for births, deaths and marriages. The move, aimed at formally recognising different family units, will also enable heterosexual couples who never married to register the death of partners, reports The Times(p9).

CBI URGES GOVERNMENT TO CURB ANTI-ROGUE TRADER MEASURES

The Confederation of British Industry is lobbying the government to curb what is perceived as the misuse of rogue trader measures to target high street businesses. The organisation is alarmed by plans to extend the 'Stop Now Orders' - known as Snores - to all consumer protection measures in the forthcoming enterprise bill. The CBI claims that safeguards are needed to protect legitimate business from the office of fair trading's heavy-handed use of the measures, reports the Financial Times(p4).

IN OFFERING LEGAL ADVICE, SUPERMARKETS GET NEW BAR-CODE

Supermarkets could offer legal advice along with the weekly shopping if plans being drawn up by solicitors are accepted by the government. The proposals, which could see lawyers advising on wills, housebuying or consumer problems in 'law shops', come ahead of Whitehall plans to relax restrictions on the legal profession. An office of fair trading (OFT) report to be presented in the spring is also expected to call for the scrapping of the rules governing how the public can obtain legal advice, reports The Times(p1).

IN BRIEF:

The Guardian(p16) looks at the apathy, incompetence and 'spatchcockery' of the latest 'rash' of referendums for elected mayors.

-- It emerged yesterday that the Florida State Board of Administration, which manages the pensions of public employees, had continued to pump money into Enron shares even when the company was collapsing. The fund is now suing Enron to recover its losses, reports The Times(p22).

-- The Mirror (p11) reports that the courts will have problems recovering the£26m and£12m interest owed by Dame Shirley Porter over the 'homes for votes' scandal, as she claims she only has a few thousand pounds and few valued assets to her name.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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