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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 14:05HRS

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POST-RAILTRACK, BYERS SAYS GOVERNMENT MUST TOUGHEN UP IN DEALINGS WITH PRIVATE SECTOR ...
POST-RAILTRACK, BYERS SAYS GOVERNMENT MUST TOUGHEN UP IN DEALINGS WITH PRIVATE SECTOR

Stephen Byers, the besieged transport secretary, makes the front page of The Guardian* with his criticism of New Labour's 'third way' for being 'flaky' round the edges in its admiration for the private sector. It is the first time a senior minister has openly criticised Tony Blair's favoured political philosophy, and the strongest evidence yet of a change of heart in Labour's attitude to private sector involvement. In an interview for The Guardian(p4), Mr Byers, an ultra-loyal Blairite, claims Labour has learned lessons from the Railtrack saga and needs to be 'hard edged' about its dealings with the private sector. * Click hereto read the paper's front-page interview summary coverage.

LABOUR ON COURSE TO FAIL ON SEVERAL OF ITS KEY PERFORMANCE TARGETS

The prime minister's plans to launch a fightback over public services could be undermined by the government's failure to meet several of its key performance targets. Some of Labour's most important goals, set in 1998, are due to be achieved by this year but alarm bells are ringing in Whitehall that some will be missed. They include a pledge to improve the literacy and numeracy standards of 11-year-olds, reports The Independent(p1).

GOVERNMENT IS EXPECTED TO FORCE COUNCIL INTO REFERENDUM FOR DIRECTLY-ELECTED MAYOR

The government is expected to underline its commitment to introducing directly elected mayors by forcing Birmingham City Council to hold a referendum on the issue. Local government minister Nick Raynsford is expected to force a ballot after the Labour-run council refused to water down its opposition to the reform, reports The Independent(p2).

OUTGOING ARCHBISHOP VOICES STRONG OPPOSITION TO ALL-CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS

Popular Church of England schools should take in pupils of other faiths or none, even if they have to turn away the children of practising Christians, believes the archbishop of Canterbury. George Carey, who announced his retirement last week, insists in The TES(p1) today that Anglican schools must be inclusive. His comments will upset some of the church's holders of conservative views, as traditionalist and liberal wings fight over his successor.

IN BRIEF:

-- The ministers of the Scottish executive have admitted defeat in a lengthy battle to persuade Whitehall to help to fund free personal care of the elderly, reports The Times(p11).

-- Those who travel by rail tend to be middle-class, male and middle-aged. Poorer people and the young predominantly use buses and bikes, or walk. Older people travel less and when they do, they walk, take the bus or drive, reports The Guardian(p5).

-- Salaries for primary heads broke through the£60,000 barrier for the first time last year, a survey from Education Data Surveys reveals today, reports The Guardian(p11).

-- The Guardian(p19) carries a letter from the cabinet member for social services at Haringey LBC, Cllr Takki Sulaiman, detailing why accountability and better outcomes for service users may soon become a reality.

-- The Independent(p7) looks at Milton Keynes, found to have had the highest employment growth in Britain over the past decade.

-- Chair, North East Assembly, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tony Flynn, has a letter in the Financial Times(p16). His hope is that, if devolution is to be meaningful, it will include some real control of cultural policy.

-- The Guardian(p9) takes an in-depth look at the hot topic of fridge disposal.

-- The TES(p5) looks at the second member of staff to successfully contend his sacking caseagainst the same school.

-- The TES(p9) looks at Essex CC and Surrey CC: 'Two more councils poised to privatise' their support services.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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