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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS

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COUNCIL PAY DISPUTE COULD LEAD TO SETTLEMENT ...
COUNCIL PAY DISPUTE COULD LEAD TO SETTLEMENT

Talks between unions and council leaders may lead to a £3m settlement over Walsall MBC's equal pay dispute, reports The Birmingham Post(28/10/03). Last week Unison had been given the go ahead to pursue £45m of back payments for its women members at the council in a Birmingham tribunal preliminary hearing. But it has emerged that union members will discontinue the claim if equal pay adjustments worth £3m are in workers' Christmas pay packets and no jobs are axed. A council spokesman said a 'reasonable and affordable offer' had been made to the unions, which it was 'hopeful' will be accepted. Unions are currently balloting members on the proposals. A meeting between council and union leaders is scheduled for 20 November this year.

U-TURN ON FILMING BAN AT SCHOOL EVENTS

Edinburgh City Council is to make a U-turn on its controversial plans banning parents filming school events such as nativity plays, according to The Herald. The newspaper also reports that sources at the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said many councils were awaiting the outcome of the Edinburgh situation before acting.

CASH BID LAUNCHED TO IMPROVE SECONDARY SCHOOLS

Members of Birmingham City Council's cabinet have agreed to launch a phase one bid, worth between £150m and £200m, for 36 secondary schools to be redeveloped under the government's £2.2bn Building Schools for the Future initiative, reports The Birmingham Post(28/10/03). Click herefor full details on Building Schools for the Future.

COUNCIL SUPPORTS LEADER AT CENTRE OF PUBLIC FUNDS ABUSE

Rotherham MBC's Labour group has said it has 'full confidence' in its council leader, Roger Stone, after fresh allegations in the Yorkshire Post (p5) that he had spent three nights in hotels paid for out of public funds, courtesy of the authority's former deputy leader, Garvin Reed, (see LGCnet), who is currently serving a three year jail term for misusing £172,000 of public money. Mr Stone had earlier made a false expenses claim, which he told the newspaper was a 'genuine mistake' and that he had repaid the money.

ANOTHER COUNCIL REJECTS ROAD TOLLS SCHEME

The introduction of Edinburgh's controversial road tolls scheme has been thrown into further doubt after Midlothian Council called for it to be blocked, reports The Herald(p9). The council has joined a growing band of authorities calling for the congestion charging regime to be dumped. It dismissed the scheme, the only one planned in Scotland, as 'divisive' and said it was launching a campaign to encourage the Midlothian community to examine the proposals.

BUS MALL CLOSURE IS 'START OF PLANS TO STOP TRAM EXTENSION'

A decision to close part of the Bullring bus mall (see LGCnetfor details) is a 'prelude to a political battle' to stop a street level tram line in Birmingham city centre, according to sources in The Birmingham Post. It is believed an objection to the Midland Metro extension could be raised by bus operator Travel West Midlands at the public inquiry into the line, which starts on December 2.

FREE DAYS AT THE RACES FOR COUNCILLORS AXED

Free days at the races for Doncaster MBC's councillors have been scrapped by the local authority following a recommendation from the council's internal audit office, reports the Yorkshire Post (p4). Councillors said the decision is a sign that the council is 'moving away' from the 'Donnygate'scandal days.

PEOPLE TO SCRIPT OWN FUNERAL IN WALES

Swansea could become the first place in Wales to allow people to set the script for their own funeral at burial grounds and crematoriums run by the local authority, under proposals outlined by Swansea City and County Council, reports The Western Mail (p7).

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