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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 17:00

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WAR OVER COMMUNITY SENTENCE ROLE IN SCOTLAND ...
WAR OVER COMMUNITY SENTENCE ROLE IN SCOTLAND

Scotland's Councils are to launch a major offensive against plans to strip them of powers to deal with criminals, reports Scotland on Sunday (p5). The Scottish Executive proposes to hand responsibility for community service to a new national body that will also run Scottish prisons. Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson claims it will create a seamless service and reduce re-offending, but all Scottish councils, the unions and other groups working with offenders oppose the move.

GAYS FACE HOUSING PROBLEM IN WALES

New research shows that gay people in Wales face greater housing problems than heterosexuals, reports The Western Mail (p9). The Welsh Assembly funded study, commissioned by Stonewall Cymru and the Triangle Wales housing project, said homosexuals were more likely to suffer 'isolation, unrecognised need, prejudice and harassment'.

TORY REBEL WILL NOT QUIT COUNCIL SEAT

A councillor that defected from the Conservative Party to join the British National Party has refused to resign his seat, reports the Yorkshire Post (August 20, p4). Roger Roberts, town councillor for Mirfield, said he had become disillusioned with the Tory party and was concerned about immigration issues.

CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED TO SAVE HOSPITAL IN CAERPHILLY

A group of county councillors have launched a campaign to save the Caerphilly District Miners Hospital, reports The Western Mail (p9). The hospital and four others in the borough are due to be shut down and replaced by a new£100m hospital. Despite extensive public consultation last year and support from the county borough council and Gwent Community Health Council, campaigners fear that the closures will leave the most populated area of the borough without a hospital nearby.

CHILDREN UNDER RACIST ATTACK AT SCHOOL

Scottish schools have seen racist attacks on children as young as five, according to The Scotsman (21 August, p33). Figures from East Dunbartonshire Council show that the number of alleged racist incidents in schools has more than doubled in the last two years, and racial equality campaigners say that similar problems can be found elsewhere. The increased numbers of asylum seekers and a growing confidence of victims to report incidents are contributing to the rise. The Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland has called upon the Scottish Executive to record and publish figures at a national and local level.

TEACHER TAKES ABERDEEN CITY COUNCIL TO TRIBUNAL

A teacher who exposed an alleged dumbing down of maths exams is taking his former employers to tribunal, reports The Scotsman (21 August, p35). Ian Kerr resigned earlier this year but is claiming constructive dismissal by Aberdeen City Council. A maths expert endorsed his claims at the hearing, voicing concern over the exam marking.

EAST RIDING PULLS OUT OF REGIONAL ASSEMBLY

The Government's regional devolution agenda has suffered a blow as a leading council pulled out of the Yorksire and Humber regional assembly, reports The Yorkshire Post(21 August, p1). East Riding Council has withdrawn its membership complaining that it's a waste of time and money. Last month, plans to hold a referendum in the region on the issue of elected mini-parliaments were postponed amidst allegations of fraud, and it's feared that East Riding's withdrawal will prompt other authorities to reconsider their membership. Further analysis in the paper (p4) looks at how the assembly spends its£3.7m budget.

GLASGOW TEACHER SHORTAGE REACHING CRISIS POINT

Unions have warned that schools have begun the new term without a full complement of staff, reports The Herald (21 August, p2). The Educational Institute of Scotland highlighted serious shortages in Glasgow and feared that other authorities would be facing similar difficulties. Primary schools have had to take on extra staff to cover for changes implemented as a result of the McCrone Agreement on primary teacher contracts.

CONCERNS OVER SHEFFIELD RETAIL DEVELOPMENT

Local businesses near to Sheffield's landmark regeneration project, the Quarter, have raised serious concerns over the proposed redevelopment, according to the Yorkshire Post (p8). The project has been hit by delays and businesses say that they are being kept in the dark over developments. Sheffield City Council said delays were not unusual on such a complex scheme and that good progress was being made.

COUNCIL WAITS FOR REPORT ON FAILED CHILD-ABUSE INQUIRY

A report into Western Isles Council's handling of a child-abuse investigation is due in October, reports the Scotsman (20 August, p28). An interim report from the Social Work Services Inspectorate has been presented to councillors, but conclusions and recommendations have yet to be made. Charges against eight people accused of sex offences involving girls under-16 were dropped last November. Some of those charged are considering legal action.

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