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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 17:05HRS

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NATIONAL UNION OF TEACHERS SAYS TEACHING STAFF SHOULD GO ON TRIPS ...
NATIONAL UNION OF TEACHERS SAYS TEACHING STAFF SHOULD GO ON TRIPS

Midland teachers refusing to take children on school trips could be stunting their pupils' personal, as well as intellectual, development, according to the National Union of Teachers. The union's regional secretary for the west Midlands, Brian Carter, criticised in The Birmingham Post(20/2/04, p3) the second biggest teaching union, the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, for urging its members not to take children on educational trips or holidays.

'ALL SCHOOLS COULD BE FORCED TO END TRIPS'(ALARM)

HATCHING, MATCHING, DISPATCHING, PRICING

Islington LBC plans to raise the price of town hall weddings from£37.50 to£300, and the fee for cremations from£11 to£66. Finance spokesman Arnie Gibbons told the Highbury & Islington Express (20/2/04, p3): 'The council chamber will be hired as a commercial venue for weddings. It is an opportunity for the council to raise some more money.'

BARNSLEY MBC SELLS OFF WORKING MEN'S CLUB FREEHOLDS

Barnsley MBC has made the controversial decision to sell off the freehold of four working men's clubs. There are fears rents could spiral forcing them out of business and the clubs demolished for housing if the authority presses ahead with an auction of freeholds next month. Although Barnsley MBC told the Yorkshire Post(20/2/04, p8) that it was willing to discuss the fears raised by the clubs, it stopped short of suggesting that it could change its decision. A council spokesman said: 'The authority did write explaining its intentions to each of the clubs. However, in light of the clubs feeling that there has been inadequate consu ltation, we are prepared to consult further and discuss any concerns.' However, he warned: 'Whilst the issues raised with the council are important, we are duty bound to give considerable weight to the economics of the matter.'

LABOUR REBELS BID FOR PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION REVERSAL

Scottish Labour Party opponents of the Scottish Executive's plans to introduce PR for council elections intend to force a reverse on the party's leadership on the first day of their party conference in Inverness this week, reported The Scotsman(p12). It is understood that they will try to amend or vote down the party's annual report, which is presented to conference before any formal debates get under way.

PAY HIKE MAY BE ONLY OPTION TO RESOLVE NURSERY NURSES' STRIKE

Following this month's vote by 5,000 Unison nursery nurses in favour of indefinite walk-outs, a private briefing paper being discussed by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities this week says the coming months could be a 'very difficult time' for the councils' relationship with unions and the public. In it, employers' secretary Lynne Dickson writes: 'In the light of this sort of vote it is difficult to see what would settle the dispute apart from an across-the-board substantial pay increase - non-affordable to many councils - undermining grading reviews and a move that would demonstrate that strike action pays off.'

INDEPENDENT AUDITORS ASK HOW BARNET'S FINANCES CAN BE TURNED AROUND

An independent audit report of Barnet LBC for the financial year 2002-3 says: 'The financial standing of the council is a matter of extreme concern. Despite budgeting to use£10m of reserves in 2002/03, the council overspent by£7m, reducing available general fund balances to£2.86m.' The situation is so serious, reported the Hampstead & Highgate Express (20/2/04, p7), that the auditor issued a Section 11 order under the Audit Commi ssion Act 1998, forcing the council to meet in public to show how the situation will be improved.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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