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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 17:25HRS

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SOCIAL SERVICES CHIEF PLEDGES TO END BRUM BED BLOCKING IN TWO YEARS ...
SOCIAL SERVICES CHIEF PLEDGES TO END BRUM BED BLOCKING IN TWO YEARS

Hospital bed blocking in Birmingham will be wiped out in two years, a social services chief pledged today. Birmingham City Council cabinet member for social services Susanna McCorry spoke as new legislation comes into force that means local authorities will be forced to pay£100 a day to hospitals for every patient forced to remain in a bed because there is no residential care available, reports The Birmingham Post(p1).

PROSTITUTION 'TOLERANCE ZONES' BACK ON BIRMINGHAM'S AGENDA

Prostitution 'tolerance zones' in Birmingham are to be considered again as part of government plans, welcomed across party lines on Birmingham City Council, to overhaul vice laws for the first time in 50 years. Home Office officials have promised to consider radical options as part of a forthcoming national debate on prostitution, reports The Birmingham Post(p1).

FLAGSHIP REGENERATION PROJECTS UNDER THREAT FROM EUROPEAN UNION FUNDING CRISIS

Scores of major regeneration projects in the west of Scotland are at risk because of European Objective 2 aid falling short of demand by£190m. Councils, education colleges, and economic forums, which are the main recipients of the money, will be told of the over-subscription problem in the coming weeks, reports The Herald(p1).

MONMOUTHSHIRE RESPONDS TO FORMER EMPLOYEE'S VERY PUBLIC COUNCIL TAX IN PROTEST

Monmouthshire CC has defended the council's policies and procedures against the protests of a disgruntled former employee, Gillian Morgan, that the children of senior officers at the authority have been given summer jobs in recent years. 'All appointments are undertaken in accordance with the council's recruitment policies,' the spokeswoman told The Western Mail(3/1/04, p1). 'As a former employee of the council, Ms Morgan will be well aware of these policies.' She added that it was not disputed that the children of the chief officers referred to by Ms Morgan had been employed by the council, but that nder the council's procedures, it is possible to recruit temporary staff without going through exhaustive selection procedures.

SCOTTISH COUNCIL TAX REVOLT IN PROSPECT

A rebellion against the council tax is looming in Scotland as authorities prepare to set a rise in bills next month at double the rate of inflation, reports The Herald (3/1/04, p1). A leader in the paper predicts 'a tamer beast than its wilder ancestors,' i.e. the poll tax pilots, but warns the government against the foolishness of ignoring it.

IN DEPTH: HORRIBLE HOGMANAY CASTS DOUBT ON FUTURE OF EVENT

After Edinburgh City Council's Hogmanay street party was cancelled for the first time because of bad weather, there is concern that international travellers will stay away in future, but most organisers and civic leaders are bullish. Lord provost of Edinburgh Lesley Hinds told The Herald (2/1/04): 'Out on the streets, I think people are just getting on with it and enjoying themselves. Edinburgh is still one of the best places in the world to be for new year and I don't think this year will have put people off from coming back.' However, project manager Norman Ireland has called the future of the event into question by appealing for an inquiry into whether the party should ever be held outdoors again, reports The Herald(4/1/04, p1). A leader in the paper (p15) asks, on behalf of 100,000 people, 'where was Plan B? It is a strong argument for the City of Edinburg h Council to invest in a proper entertainment venue that is weatherproof.'

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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