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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 13:40HRS

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IN DEPTH: PRIVATE SECTOR PARTNER CRITICISED FOR TRAINING PROGRAMME COLLAPSE ...
IN DEPTH: PRIVATE SECTOR PARTNER CRITICISED FOR TRAINING PROGRAMME COLLAPSE

A report by the education and skills select committee will say that ministers failed to draw up properly the contract at the heart of the public-private partnership established to deliver the£260m flagship training programme. The MPs will find that the contract was flawed from the start because the programme was uncapped, had indefinite targets and failed to define properly the role of the private sector partner. Capita, which is understood to be in line to run any successor scheme, is severely criticised for promoting itself as the most experienced operator in the sector, when one of the safety features of the proposed scheme - a database of trainers - was not fit for the purpose and should have been flagged up immediately. Capita is also attacked for failing to carry out those duties for which it had direct responsibility, such as dealing with complaints, reports the Financial Times(p4).

ALL HANDS TO THE PUMP IN LABOUR PARTY'S CAMPAIGN

Roy Hattersley comments in The Guardian(p12) on why Labour is becoming a 'local loser', after: 'Central government has utterly emasculated Britain's boroughs,' a view echoed in The Daily Telegraph(p4). He writes: 'Labour seems likely to lose seats in Thursday's municipal elections - a prospect which, though it depresses me, ought to be accepted by the party leadership with something approaching jubilation. Thursday's results will be a comment on the standing of the prime minister and the cabinet.' Even Ken Livingstone is pitching in to help Labour's local election campaign, doing some discreet campaigning in the capital for the party, reports The Guardian(p6).

CALL FOR MORE MAYORS, AND ELECTED POLICE CHIEFS OR PUBLIC TO HAVE SAY IN AGENDA

A new, centre-right Conservative Party think-tank formed by allies of Michael Portillo will today call for elected mayors in every major English city and people to be given a direct say in the choice or priorities of their local police chief and NHS trust chairman. The call by Policy Exchange, a new centre-right think-tank, runs ahead of Conservative Party policy, which favours strengthening local councils, report The Times(p8) and The Guardian(p6).

POOR AREAS HAVE NOISIEST ROADS IN UK

The noisiest roads in Britain, where poor surfacing meets high traffic volume, have been identified in a new noise survey conducted by the UK Noise Association . 'Thousands of people are trapped in run-down areas afflicted by city roads that are motorways 'in all but name,' the study says, reports The Independent(p6).

IN BRIEF:

- 'Why bother to vote?' questions a leader in the Financial Times (p20), highlighting the many reasons why electors do not turn out to vote, reports the Financial Times(p20), while on p21, the Financial Timeslooks at elected mayors, 'local heroes to spearhead reform', and asks 'why aren't we getting them?'

- The Timeswaxes lyrical about 'Livingstone Towers', the new headquarters for the mayor of London, and the openness and accessibility of its council debating chambers, with their superior 'ringside seats'.

- Davy Jones of the Audit Commission has a letter in The Guardian(p13), drawing attention to his organisation's year-long pilot process with 90 councils to develop indicators to measure 'quality of life' and asking national and local government to recognise - and act on - its findings that 'activities for teenagers' feature are a high priority for the public.

AND FINALLY ...

Trade secretary Patricia Hewitt has drawn flak from the Institute of Directors for comments reported in the Daily Mail (p5) that employers should encourage flexible working during England's World Cup games to avoid the 'unnanounced sickie'.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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