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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEWS IN THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS

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LYONS RULES OUT OVERHAUL OF BUSINESS RATES...
LYONS RULES OUT OVERHAUL OF BUSINESS RATES

Michael Lyons has ruled out a fundamental restructuring of business rates, in an interview with the Financial Times (pg1).

He said such an overhaul was not the solution to local council funding problems. However, Sir Michael will tell a conference on Thursday that he will call for additional contributions from businesses to promote local economic development.

Businesses have been campaigning against any moves to give control of rates back to authorities.

Sir Michael added that he was on track to complete his report on local government finance by December.

WOOLAS LEADS 'BLAIRITES FOR BROWN' CAMPAIGN

Local government minister Phil Woolas is to launch a 'Blairites for Brown' campaign, reports The Times (pg1).

Mr Woolas is leading a group of Blairite middle-ranking ministers that aims to preserve party unity under the Chancellor Gordon Brown.

The move comes as both Tony Blair and Mr Brown ordered allies to stop briefings against each camp.

Mr Brown gave a television interview on Sunday in which he confirmed that he planned to 'intensify' privatisation of public services - a move that will be criticised by union members at the TUC annual conference this week.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADS CAR SEAT AWARENESS CAMPAIGN

Local authorities are taking a lead in publicising new car seat regulations coming into force this month, reports The Guardian (pg7).

The Local Government Association said the Department for Transport had done little to publicise the rules, leaving councils to mobilise firefighters, trading standards officers and road safety staff to raise awareness among parents. These staff will be posted near supermarkets, schools and car parks.

LGA press release

Cars carrying children under 12 need to be fitted with baby, child or booster seats to ensure seatbelts give adequate protection in the event of an accident.

FAITH SCHOOLS DEMAND THEIR OWN INSPECTORATE

The Association of Muslim Schools and the Christian Schools Trust are calling for a new Faith Schools Inspectorate to take up the role now carried out by Ofsted, reports the Daily Express (pg10).

The faith school representatives also want the power to appoint inspectors to such a new inspectorate.

They claim Ofsted inspectors either have no faith school background or are ignorant about faith issues.

The Department for Education and Skills declined to comment on the calls, but said the school inspection system was already robust.

GOVERNMENT 'BREAKS PROMISES' OVER BYPASSES

The government is accused of abandoning promises to build 70 bypasses by the end of 2010, reports The Times (pg4).

The Road Users Alliance said only 20 bypasses have been built in the past six years from a list of several hundred proposed by local authorities. A further 10-15 are due to be finished by 2010. This is half the schemes promised by the government in its transport plan of 2000.

BASIC SKILLS CERTIFICATE COULD BE GAINED AT AGE 12

The incoming functional skills certificate could be gained by children as young as 12, reports The Independent.

The certificate will be piloted next year as a separate exam alongside GCSEs, to prove to future employers that pupils have reached basic standards in the three Rs and information technology. However children could obtain the certificate as soon as they start secondary school, according to Peter Walker, national director of the secondary school improvement strategy.

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