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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 13:35HRS

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CAPITA 'BROKE RULES' FOR LARGEST EVER PUBLIC SERVICE CONTRACT ...
CAPITA 'BROKE RULES' FOR LARGEST EVER PUBLIC SERVICE CONTRACT

A£1bn contract to run Westminster LBC services is likely to be awarded by default, it has emerged, after one of the frontrunners deliberately submitted a bid that broke the rules. The ground-breaking outsourcing deal, which was designed to be a model for other local authorities, will see a private sector company take over almost all council services from school admissions to planning. As the sole remaining bidder, Vertex, the customer service subsidiary of United Utilities, is now in pole position to win the ten-year deal after a bid by rival Capita failed to match the council's tendering conditions, reports The Times(p27). The controversial pay and shares deal received by three of Capita's top executives is discussed in The Guardian(p27).

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS WIN BATTLE OF ELECTRICAL WASTE PRODUCTS

White goods and electronics manufacturers will be responsible for financing the disposal and recycling of old appliances under new laws backed by the European parliament yesterday. The assembly voted through a number of amendments to tighten the draft rules and enshrine the concept that manufacturers should only pay for handling their own waste products, reports the Financial Times(p10 and leader, p18 ).

IN DEPTH: CONSERVATIVES RENEW CALLS FOR BYERS' RESIGNATION

Stephen Byers last night faced fresh calls from the Conservative Party for his resignation after being charged with 'buying' votes in next month's local government elections by promising housing regeneration schemesin key town hall battlegrounds, and slipping out bad news on road tolls under cover of the Queen Mother's funeral. He also faced criticism over the Tube after claims he made 'extraordinary', last-minute concessions to the private sector , giving banks a legal right to transfer a£4.3bn debt back to London Underground if the partial privatisation deal collapsed, reports the Financial Times(p1).

EDUCATION ADVISOR ATTACKS GOVERNMENT'S 'STALINISM'

The government's education policy came under savage attack from one of its most trusted advisors last night over the 'Stalinist' national curriculum and its over-reliance on primary school testing. Professor Tim Brighouse, who announced his retirement as chief education officer for Birmingham City Council last week, called for primary school test league tables to be scrapped to avoid as many as one in four youngsters being labelled failures at 11, reports The Independent(p1). His full speech is available on LGCnet .

ANTIPATHY BETWEEN POLICE AND ASIAN YOUTHS REACHING 'PRE-RIOT' LEVELS

Relations between the police and Asian youths have deteriorated to a state similar to that between officers and the black community at the time of the Brixton riots, a report published today warns. The tension and anger is building among a new generation of Pakistani and Bangladeshi youths, according to a report into policing in London since the 1981 riots. General levels of satisfaction with the police and confidence in Scotland Yard's ability to catch criminals and deal with victims has also fallen in the past 20 years, it notes. The study, which took the views of 5,500 adults, warns that new frictions are developing between police and groups within poorer Asian communities. Criminologists from two universities compiled the 18-month study, Policing for London, to examine policing in the capital in the aftermath of the Macpherson inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It also examined what changes had been made since the Brixton riots, reports The Independent(p10).

COUNCIL TAX ARREARS AT RECORD LEVELS

Council tax arrears have reached record levels, leaving a£1.4bn hole in local government financing. The outstanding debt, which leapt by£200m last year, is the highest since council tax replaced poll tax in 1993. The Government has ordered councils to crack down on non-payers as ministers faced growing embarrassment over the mounting debt. The level of the arrears - equivalent to 0.5p on the basic income tax rate, reports The Independent(p2).

INWARD INVESTMENT FALLS IN UK AS A WHOLE, BUT LONDON IS STILL TOP LOCATION

According to figures from Ernst & Young, Britain was one of Europe's biggest losers last year as inward investment collapsed across much of the continent in the wake of the US economic slowdown. The UK remained Europe's top location for investment projects, with 19 per cent, and the London region was the best-performer for the second successive year. However, the number of new projects in the UK fell by 34 per cent, nearly three times the 12 per cent contraction across Europe, reports the Financial Times(p6).

IN BRIEF:

- Writing in the Financial Times(p19), Ken Livingstone defends his power to appoint a 'cabinet' of executive directors charged with improving services.

- DTLR minister Nick Raynsford and others discuss electronic voting on the letters page of The Times(p23), while the new codes of conduct for councillorsis a hot topic elsewhere on the same page.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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