Proposals to speed up planning decisions for all developments - from nuclear waste dumps to housing - are condemned today by MPs as unworkable, undemocratic and 'in danger of spawning a new generation of Swampies.' The all-party select committee on transport, local government and the regions, which has a Labour majority, is calling on the government to tear up its reforms, the most radical for 50 years, reports The Daily Telegraph (p1).
Councillors warned John Prescott yesterday not to press ahead with government plans to introduce league tables for local authoritiesunless they were all given greater freedoms. Following a heated debate at the LGA conference in Bournemouth, delegates voted overwhelmingly to express 'strong reservations' about the government's plans to divide councils according to their performance, reports The Times (p10).
BLAIR REPEATS PROMISE TO REWARD WELL-RUN COUNCILS
The prime minister will this week underline the government's commitment to give councils more freedom and extra cash in return for passing a 'good performance' test set by the Audit Commission. But writing in the LGA's weekly newspaper to co-incide with the conference, Tony Blair offers little prospect of the government softening its demand that freedoms must be matched by 'new responsilities underpinned by national standards, reports The Guardian (p10).
-- The chair of the community cohesion review team, Ted Cantle, writes on the letters page of The Guardian(p17) to dispute that his team's report is part of a 'Muslim inquest'. Mr Cantle takes issue with much from Faisal Bodi's recent comment column in the paper, and says that his multi-ethnic team - including several Muslims - was virtually unanimous on all 70 recommendations.
-- The deputy prime minister tells the Financial Times (p4) about his plans for the regions and belief that elected assemblies are coming, but gives reassurance that it's not all over and out for the counties.
-- Guardian Society(p12) reports on an initiative where eight councils with a strong track record in communication with local people have been chosen to take a lead in a three-year project promoting good practice more widely in local government. Early results of the project, Connecting with Communities, will be set out today at the LGC conference, which is backing the initiative in association with the office of the deputy prime minister, the audit commission and the improvement and development agency (IDeA). The councils are Borough of Poole, Birmingham City Council, Broxbourne BC, Buckinghamshire CC, Camden LBC, Colchester BC, Stockton-on-Tees BC and Sutton LBC.
-- Guardian Society(p10) looks at the many plaudits won by Chris Holmes in his seven years as director of homelessness charity Shelter, and asks: 'So why his sudden departure?'
by assistant editor Neil Watson