The chancellor has rejected the idea of larger city-regions run by elected mayors, reports the Financial Times (pg2).
Treasury minister Ed Balls, an ally of Gordon Brown, told a conference that the government could not afford 'to get bogged down' in creating similar structures to the London model in other parts of the country. There could be a place for regional select committees to scrutinise local and regional authorities, he added.
His full speech is available here.
MINISTER SAYS WEARING A VEIL HINDERS COMMUNITY RELATIONS
Cabinet minister Jack Straw has provoked anger from Muslim leaders after claiming Islamic women who cover their faces with a veil hinder community relations, reports The Guardian (pg1).
He said the full veil - the niqab - was 'such a visible statement of separation and of difference' and those people who do wear it 'should think about the implications for community relations'.
Meanwhile a new 'diversity index' of the UK shows seven per cent of local authorities are highly ethnically diverse, reports The Independent (pg1). It also shows that Muslims have higher rates of unemployment and overcrowded housing than other religions.
CLAMPDOWN ON MIDDLE-CLASS 'HI-JACKING' OF SURE START
The government has ordered action to stop middle-class parents 'hi-jacking' the Sure Start programme, reports The Times (pg11).
Managers of the Sure Start schemes will next month be asked to monitor the class and ethnic origin of the centres and to take action if users fail to reflect the neighbourhood's social mix. A Whitehall source said middle-class parents would not be prevented from using the centres, but more working class mothers would be recruited.
LITTER FINES REMAIN UNPAID
An LGA survey shows almost half of the fines issued by councils for environmental nuisance remain unpaid, reports The Daily Telegraph (pg11).
Since new powers were introduced in April, more than 17,000 fines had been issued for litter, dog mess and fly-tipping, but only 55 per cent have been paid.
The LGA said it expected recovery rates to reach 100 per cent by November, as the new powers had only been used in earnest in the past two months.
GCSE COURSEWORK ABOLISHED IN 10 SUBJECT AREAS
Coursework will be replaced by more external exams and controlled assessments in 10 subject areas by 2009, reports The Guardian (pg11).
The areas include business studies, classical subjects, economics, English literature, geography, history, modern foreign languages, religious studies and social sciences. The government has already announced an end to coursework in GCSE maths from next year.
LIVINGSTONE'S SUSPENSION QUASHED
A High Court judge yesterday quashed London mayor Ken Livingstone's four month suspension over a remark to a Jewish reporter, reports The Guardian (pg7).
Mr Livingstone was appealing a decision by the Adjudication Panel for England. A final judgement on the appeal has been reserved but Mr Justice Collins said he would quash the suspension, regardless of whether he found the panel's finding correct or not.