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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL AUTHORITY STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS

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COSLA SET FOR SHOWDOWN WITH FIRST MINISTER OVER ELECTIONS ...
COSLA SET FOR SHOWDOWN WITH FIRST MINISTER OVER ELECTIONS

The Conventional of Scottish Local Authorities is to clash with the first minister in his battle to reform local government elections. Cosla, which represents 29 of Scotland's 32 councils, is expected to declare its formal opposition to any change in the current first-past-the-post system on Friday. This rejection of proportional representation will ratchet up the pressure on Jack McConnell's coalition with the Liberal Democrats, for whom PR is a touchstone policy, reports The Herald. Cosla will also call for pensions and£12,000-plus salaries instead of the£7000 basic allowance, which could cost taxpayers an extra£12m a year.

TREVOR PHILLIPS PULLS OUT OF LONDON MAYOR RACE

Trevor Phillips has today withdrawn from the race to become the next mayor of London, reports The Evening Standard(p2). Mr Phillips, the Labour chairman of the London Assembly, said he would not seek the Labour nomination for mayor because it would not be best for his family, the Labour Party or Londoners. Mr Phillips is likely to throw his weight begind the former sports minister, Tony Banks, should he decide to stand.

KILSHAWS STILL HOPE TO ADOPT THEIR 'INTERNET BABIES'

The couple at the centre of last year's 'internet babies' row believe they could still adopt the American twins, now that a barrister and QC have offered to fight their corner for no fee, reports The Western Mail. Judith and Alan Kilshaw were forced to give up the baby girls in April 2001 by a legal action brought by Flintshire CC. The couple, then living in Buckley, were unable to appeal against the decision because they could not afford the legal fees. But yesterday Mrs Kilshaw said two sympathetic lawyers were willing to represent them in the High Court for free and were formally applying for an appeal.

MORE DEVOLUTION IN THE PIPELINE FOR WALES

Decisions on controversial planning issues such as large-scale wind farms and the management of foot-and-mouth outbreaks could soon be take by the Welsh Assembly, rather than Westminster, reports The Western Mail. The assembly is in negotiations with the Department of Trade and Industry over the transfer of the powers. The move is the latest in a step-by-step process of devolving more power from Westminster to Wales and the negotiations are revealed in the latest monitoring report on the work of the Assembly from think tank the Institute of Welsh Affairs.

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