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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 12.03

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NO CAPPING FOR HIGH TAX WELSH COUNCILS ...
NO CAPPING FOR HIGH TAX WELSH COUNCILS

Announcing a 5.2% increase in Welsh assembly funding for local authorities, finance and local government minister, Sue Essex, said Wales should not see an excessive rise in council tax next year. Ms Essex also insisted capping councils which tax too much was against local democracy and does 'not fit easily with our style', reports The Western Mail.

SCOTLAND'S NEW VOTING SYSTEM ATTACKED

The Scottish executive's proposed new voting system for council elections could provoke electoral chaos, according to claims made by the Society of Local Authority Lawyers and Administrators in Scotland, who said the change could create 'widespread confusion' for voters and delay the result, reports The Scotsman.

EDINBURGH OFFICIALS MEET WITH LONDON'S CONGESTION CHARGE COMPANY

Transport Initiatives in Edinburgh (TIE), the company behind plans to introduce road tolls in Edinburgh, has held informal talks with Capita, the company which runs London's congestion charging scheme. But council managers and TIE have stressed there were no plans to have Capita run the scheme in Edinburgh, reports The Scotsman.

HULL SENIOR COUNCIL OFFICER INVESTIGATED

The district auditor is to investigate the business interests of Kingston-upon-Hull City Council's chief legal officer, Margaret Taylor, after it emerged she is personally involved in the affairs of nine companies as well as her full-time, £80,000-a-year job, according to the Yorkshire Post.

TRADE UNION LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO END LABOUR-TORY PACT

Birmingham's Trades Union Council has condemned a Labour-Conservative power-sharing deal - which saw Labour take the council cabinet posts and the Tories getting most of scrutiny committee chairmanshipson - as 'shabby collaboration', which it says is not in the interests of working people, reports The Birmingham Post. But Mick Rice, cabinet member for local services and community safety, defended the unofficial pact saying that the Birmingham Labour group did not operate in isolation and any arrangements it made would have been approved by Labour's national executive committee.

AUDITOR GENERAL URGED TO INVESTIGATE SCOTTISH HOUSING ASSOCIATION

Glasgow MSP, Sandra White, has called on the Auditor General to investigate the financial management of the Glasgow Housing Association amid claims that high rent arrears figures will threaten a £4bn reform programme, reports The Scotsman. Earlier the Scottish executive offered to convert a 10-year loan of £300m to a grant, if the GHA handed over control of 80% of the 82,000 homes it has to tenant-led bodies.

WLGA DIRECTOR HITS BACK AT WALES-ONLY BILLS ROW

The director of the Welsh Local Government Association, Sandy Blair, has described as 'arrant nonsense' any suggestion that devolution should be judged on the number of Wales-only Bills in the Queen's Speech. It is thought assembly members expressed serious concerns about the fact that all five proposals for primary legislation proposed by the national assembly earlier this year failed to make it into last month's Queen's Speech, reported The Western Mail(8/12/03, p 11).

TOLL ROADS PROPOSED FOR M4

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain called on the National assembly yesterday to consider road tolls to ease congestion along the M4 corridor. He believes the planned M4 relief road around the south of Newport could be tolled to improve traffic conditions, reports The Western Mail. His comments came on the same day Britain's first tolled road opened around Birmingham. Read more on this here.

MORE DEVELOPMENT FOR ABERDEEN TO MAINTAIN PROSPERITY

Aberdeen councillors were yesterday warned that almost 6,000 homes will have to built in the next seven years and extra land freed for industrial development if the city is to maintain its prosperity, reports The Scotsman. The warning was issued by Bob Reid, the authority's head of physical development, in a detailed report on the city's proposed new local plan.

MEP URGES PM TO REJECT SUPER-AIRPORT PLANS

Midland MEP, Michael Cashman, is set to urge the prime minister to reject proposals for a new super-airport at Rugby when they meet next week, according to The Birmingham Post. It's thought ministers have already decided against giving the go-ahead to the three-runway airport, which would be the biggest in Europe.

NEW PR HEAD FOR GLASGOW COUNCIL

Caryl Jackson, chief of corporate communications for Strathclyde Police, has been appointed the £78,000 head of public relations and marketing for Glasgow City Council and will lead a team of 25, reported The Herald (9/12/03).

COUNCIL AIMS FOR FAIRTRADE TITLE

Cardiff CC is a step closer to qualifying for Fairtrade status with all secondary schools now providing Fairtrade tea, coffee and drinking chocolate in their vending machines. The decision has been made to introduce Fairtrade products to all local authority vending machines, pending approval from the council, with the aim of becoming the first capital in the world to get the Fairtrade title, reported The Western Mail (8/12/03, p5).

By reporter Bansri Shah

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