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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 14:25HRS

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BRITAIN'S RECORD ON SOCIAL ISSUES UNDER ATTACK ...
BRITAIN'S RECORD ON SOCIAL ISSUES UNDER ATTACK

Britain's record on social issues ranging from discrimination to poverty has been strongly criticised by a United Nations committee. A report prepared by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, seen by the The Telegraph(p1) yesterday, is critical of the government's record on low pay, workers' rights, domestic violence, homelessness, poor housing and student loans. It chides Labour for not adopting comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation as required by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which took effect in 1976.

RAPID CHANGE OF DIRECTION ON SPEED CAMERAS

Speed cameras placed to trap the most drivers will be ripped out and in future, they must only be used at accident trouble spots, reports the Daily Mail (p1). Police will be banned from hiding them behind trees, hedges, lamp-posts and road signs and there must also be clear advance warning, giving drivers time to slow down.

IN DEPTH: A FLOOD OF INFORMATION AVAILABLE FROM THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY

The chairman of the EA, John Harman, has a letter in The Times(p23) about the sources of flood risk information held and shared by his organisation, which is 'working with councils in Lincolnshire regarding their concern over the agency's indicative flood plain maps, and has as yet received no notice of any legal action. The maps are a statement of the geographic flood plain - a simple indication of where flood risk is a reality. These indicative maps allow the public to see quickly on the internet the area at risk, and seek further local advice. Likewise, planners can use them for an overview. The agency advises planners on a daily basis.' He concludes: While we would never advise planners to develop in an area that we considered to be at risk from flooding, the final decision rests with them, and not with the agency.'

BYERS 'MOST UNPOPULAR CABINET MINISTER SINCE LABOUR CAME TO POWER'

The personal poll rating of the transport secretary, Stephen Byers, has plunged to minus 49 points, making him more unpopular than Margaret Thatcher ever was in office, while Gordon Brown's popularity has soared. This month's

Guardian/ICM poll shows that the Byers effect is now dragging down the government's popularity, with the public's dramatic loss of confidence in him. Only a year ago, an ICM poll gave him a plus 11 points rating as transport secretary, but the last 12 months has seen a 60 point drop in his rating, reports The Guardian(p1).

AND FINALLY ...

Britain's first cowpat-fired power station will begin producing electricity before the end of the month, 'bringing a new meaning to the concept of wind power', according to The Times(p1). The plant in Holsworthy, Devon, will use 146,000 tonnes of liquid slurry a year. As well as generating an estimated 1.4 megawatts for the National Grid, the plant will provide hot water to heat local public buildings.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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