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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS

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TO AVOID GRIDLOCK, DRIVERS WILL HAVE TO PAY 50P A MILE ...
TO AVOID GRIDLOCK, DRIVERS WILL HAVE TO PAY 50P A MILE

A report out today from The Commission for Integrated Transportconcludes that the Government has made little or no progress towards any of the most important transport targets that it had set for this decade, reports The Times(p2). Transport secretary Alistair Darling will on Wednesday announce the biggest road-building programme since Labour came to power, including widening 60 miles of the M25 and possibly adding lanes to the M42 around Birmingham, the M60 around Manchester and the southern ends of the M1, A1 and M11 (see LGCnet.

NO SOLUTION TO BRINGING THE NORTH AND SOUTH CLOSER TOGETHER

A leader in the Financial Times(p16) believes the parliamentary committee charged with suggesting policy prescriptions aimed at reducing the north-south divide has failed to pinpoint the solution. The paper notes that, 'the public purse has often subsidised inefficient industries; and national pay-setting in the public sector has exacerbated quality differences, leading to worse public services in the south,' and suggests that one of the most promising areas for government action may be 'to allow greater local determination of regulations. For example, strict planning restrictions in Hampshire would probably be detrimental if applied with identical rigour to Hartlepool.'

MORE POWERS TO ASSEMBLIES TO REDUCE 'NORTH-SOUTH DIVIDE'

HOME SECRETARY LOOKS TO AMERICA FOR SOLUTION TO LESSER CRIMES

David Blunkett is planning to introduce community courts to crack down on minor crime and anti-social behaviour, reports the Daily Mail (p8). Today the home secretary is due to reveal details of the US-style courts described by the Home Office as 'one-stop crime-busting shops.'

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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