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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 12.13HRS

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TURNING DOWN£2BN PFI ROADS PLAN 'WOULD HIT SOCIAL SERVICES' ...
TURNING DOWN £2BN PFI ROADS PLAN 'WOULD HIT SOCIAL SERVICES'

Birmingham's deputy leader, Stewart Stacey, has claimed money would have to be diverted from social services and housing to repair the city's roads if the council turned down a £2bn private-public highways investment scheme. Mr Stacey, replying to Conservative and Liberal Democrat claims that work on preparing the PFI bid was being rushed through, insisted there was no alternative way to raise funding, reports The Birmingham Post (p3).

HOWARD PROMISES COUNCILS MORE POWER

Conservative party leader, Michael Howard, has promised to restore power to local councils to govern in the best interests of their communities instead of ring-fenced pots of money that have to be spent on 'certain things'. In an interview in The Birmingham Post (p10), Mr Howard said the ability of local authorities to spend money on local objectives has been squeezed by Labour.

EDINBURGH COULD GET NEW CHILDREN'S SERVICES DEPARTMENT

A children's services department could be created in Edinburgh following the death of 11-week-old baby Caleb Ness, reported The Herald (6/12/03, p6). The plans, being considered by the city council, could result in the merger of the social work department's child protection unit and the edcation department.

EDUCATION LEADERS CALL FOR COUNCIL TAX RISE TO STAVE OFF BUDGET CUTS

Head teachers have called for a double figure council tax rise of 10.7% to avoid budget cuts, reports The Hull Advertiser. The move comes ahead of today's East Riding of Yorkshire Council's cabinet meeting where councillors are being urged to back £2.8m of school cuts.

NEW CHAIRMAN APPOINTED TO MONITOR HULL COUNCILLORS

A city magistrate has been appointed as chairman of Hull City Council's standards committee to oversee the behaviour of councillors, repor ts The Hull Advertiser. JP Chris Fenwick said the committee has an important role to play in monitoring standards at the council, particularly in the light of recent criticism by the Audit Commission (see LGCnet), which labelled the behaviour of some councillors as 'immature and confrontational'.

HOMES REFORM SCHEME IN TURMOIL

Up to half of the 82,000 homes involved in the transfer of Glasgow's social housing stock out of council control face demolition after allegations of cost overruns and mismanagement, according to sources in The Scotsman (6/12/03, p4). It also claims that repairs have been suspended by some local managers, despite suggestions that the Glasgow Housing Association is sitting on a £45m bank balance.

COUNCILLOR'S AGENT CLEARED OF CORRUPTION

Redbridge LBC councillor, Dev Sharma's agent, Andrew Lester, has been cleared of allegations that he lied during an investigation into alleged local election corruption, reports the South London Press (p13). Mr Lester was working for Mr Sharma, when he was accused of misleading the police when they probed election expense forms he submitted in a council by-election last year.

BUSINESSES EXPRESS CAUTION OVER REGIONAL ASSEMBLIES

A new survey has found business leaders in Rotherham are 'extremely cautious' about the proposed regional assemblies because of fears of increased bureaucracy and a lack of understanding, reports the Yorkshire Post (p8).

ENVIRONMENT AND LAW DIRECTOR LEAVES AT SOUTH LONDON COUNCIL

Lambeth LBC's director of environment and law, Ged Curran, is leaving to take over as chief executive of Merton LBC, reports the South London Press (p11). He has been with Lambeth council for seven years.

SCOTTISH COUNCIL FORCED TO APOLOGISE AFTER SPELLING ERRORS

Edin burgh City Council has been left apologising after a series of spelling errors appeared in the newsletter it sends to more than 200,000 city homes, only days after it was forced to reprint its official Christmas card because of misspellings, reports The Scotsman.

COUNCIL SHEDS CREDIBILITY AFTER DUPLICATE BALLOT PAPERS

Thousands of tenants voting on Camden LBC's plans to introduce an ALMO to run its 33,000 council homes have received duplicate voting papers, because they own a shed, according to the Hampstead and Highgate Express (5/12/03, p17). But the council insists it has identified everybody who has received a duplicate ballot paper because each one has a unique security number which means the extra papers will be removed from the counting system.

By reporter Bansri Shah

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