The Treasury is trying to cut growth in civil servants' earnings by a third this year - as a string of long-term pay deals aimed at boosting staff quality and quantity in schools, hospitals, local government and the civil service itself are taking effect. Guidance issued to departments, which the Financial Times(p1, p3) has seen, sets a 3.5 per cent ceiling on earnings increases for the civil service and its agencies in 2004. That is 35 per cent lower than the 5.4 per cent rise that public sector workers had last year.
COUNCIL ACTS OVER RESIDENT TAKING SEA DEFENCE INTO HIS OWN HANDS
When householder Peter Boggis constructed a sea defence to protect his home from coastal erosion, Waveney DC said that his actions needed planning permission. He countered that by saying that it was agricultural work, which did not need permission. He was then told that he was contravening European Union rules and needed an environmental impact assessment, to which he replied that he was creating a national defence, which did not need one, and quoted the Coastal Protection Act. The council has now handed the problem to their barristers, reports The Times(p5).
REPORT CALLS FOR PUBLIC SMOKING BAN
A ban on smoking at work and in public places should be considered if the government is to tackle a growing public health crisis, a report commissioned by the Treasury will say today. Derek Wanless, the former banker whose 2002 study on the National Health Service paved the way for record increases in spending, will try to enlist schools, local authorities and the private sector in an attempt to tackle problems stemming from obesity and smoking, reports the Financial Times(p2).
LOCAL AUTHORITIES COULD PLAY A NOVEL PENSIONS ROLE
Richard Murphy and Colin Hines from Finance for the Future, co-authors of the New Economics Foundation report People's Pensions, have a letter in the Financial Timeson the next step after limitless prudential borrowing (see LGCnet). They believe this can be used to, 'open the door not only to the encouragement of more savings into pensions but also to provide an answer to the need to find a further source of demand for UK equities. In terms of UK equities, all companies involved in the improvements of public infrastructure, be it health, education, transport, housing or energy, would then become excellent candidates for equity investment. A truly prudent but virtuous circle.'
EUROPE REBUFFS 'METRIC MARTYRS'
Five market traders prosecuted for selling goods in pounds and ounces only were told yesterday that they could not take their cases to the European courts, reports The Daily Telegraph(p2). Steven Thoburn, Peter Collins, Colin Hunt, Julian Harman and John Dove - the so-called metric martyrs - argued that their convictions had breached the European Convention on Human Rights. But the European Court in Strasbourg said that their argument was inadmissible.
POLICE CRITICISE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER OVER SOHAM VETTING
In its formal submission to the Bichard inquiry, the Association of Chief Police Officer s hit out at the organisation in charge of overseeing the Data Protection Act in documents published yesterday as part of the inquiry into how Ian Huntley got a job as a school caretaker, reports The Guardian(p8). ACPO claimed that the repeated intervention of the commissioner, Richard Thomas, was leading to 'inconsistent standards' and had an impact on the 'safety of the public'.
BRITISH NATIONAL PARTY 'TRAWLS FOR VOTES' IN QUIET CORNISH PORT
A new campaign drive by the British National Party is trying to induce fear or foreigners in Cornwall, reports The Guardian(p10).
DECENT HOMES FOR COUNCIL TENANTS
A letter from Camden LBC leader Jane Roberts in the New Statesman (23/2/04, p36) considers arm's-length management organisations for housing. 'Only if direct control is relinquished in this way can the council access the investment needed to reach the decent-homes standard,' she writes.
COUNCIL INVESTIGATES LOO-LOCKING INCIDENT
Yesterday two staff were suspended on full pay by Sandwell MBC as a probe was launched into why a man was locked in a public loo overnight, reports The Sun(p13).
by assistant editor Neil Watson