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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 16:00HRS

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GLOBAL WARMING PUTS EAST COAST AT RISK ...
GLOBAL WARMING PUTS EAST COAST AT RISK
The Country and Land and Business Association warned that a rising sea level caused by global warning threatens most of the coastline, placing the Thames Estuary, Norfolk Broads and the Fens at risk from storm surges and raising the cost of sea defences. It saus the role of farming and rural business has been ignored in plans to reduce levels of greenhouse gas emissions, reports the Daily Telegraph(p12).
NATIONAL HERITAGE 'KEY TO RURAL JOBS'
Two out of three jobs in rural tourism depend on historic buildings and beautiful scenery, according to a report for the National Trust which stresses the need for environmentally friendly farming and tourism. The study suggests that day trippers can generate as much revenue for the tourist industry as those who stay longer, and may prove a more reliable source of income, reports the Daily Telegraph(p12).
BLUNKETT SETS DEADLINE FOR POLICE REFORM
Home secretary David Blunkett told the police to agree to sweeping reforms, resulting in a cut in sickness absence, greater numbers of constables on the beat and improved clear-up rates, or have them imposed from above. He told a gathering of all 43 English and Welsh chief constables there was a need to sweep away arcane practices and change the canteen culture of the police, with reform of rostering arrangements and overtime pay, reports the Daily Telegraph(p16).
PLANT THIEVES TAKE LAST ORCHID
The last remaining specimen of a rare orchid known to be growing in East Anglia has been dug up and removed from a site in Norfolk kept secret from all but a handful of conservationists. Orchids can fetch up to£7,000 on the black market, and Norfolk Wildlife Trust experts believe the two-inch high bog orchid may have been stolen to order, reports The Times.
BYERS ACCUSED OVER TUBE CLAIM
The left-wing Tribune newspaper claims today that local government secretary Stephen Byers falsely claimed the support of a Labour MP and former Downing Street adviser for the government's public-private partnership plan for the London Underground. John Cruddas' name was included on a list of supporters, but he was not asked and does not endorse the scheme, reports The Guardian.
FIRST DAY OF MERSEYSIDE FIREFIGHTERS STRIKE UNEVENTFUL
The armed forces' first day in action on Merseyside after firefighters began an eight-day strike has been without major incident. The walk-out began at 09:00hrs and the armed forcescrews have already dealt with a series of emergency calls, including a car crash and a car fire, reports bbc.co.uk.
BRITAIN NOT YET READY FOR PUBLIC SERVICE REFORM
The idea that Britain's public services suffer because of underfunding does not stand up to scrutiny when comparisons are made with other European countries. Elsewhere in Europe, giving the private sector a say in funding and providing services is commonplace, yet here it remains highly contentious. Meanwhile, the government has braved Labour's traditional commitment to egalitarianism to 'tip-toe' round notions of selective education and private sector involvement in the NHS, but has become stuck on the lesser idea of private management. Only when current investment in the health service turns out not to be the solution will Britain really be ready to discuss public service reform, argues The Economist.
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