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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEWS IN THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS

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OVERCROWDING 'AFFECTS 500,000 PEOPLE'...
OVERCROWDING 'AFFECTS 500,000 PEOPLE'

The government believes the way councils define overcrowded households underestimates the extent of the problem, reports The Guardian (pg5).

Only 20,000 households are deemed overcrowded, but a modern analysis suggests this figure should be closer to 500,000, according to a report published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The standards for measuring overcrowding class a one-bedroom flat as suitable for a couple with a teenage boy and teenage girl, but under a modern definition the family would be entitled to a three bedroom flat.

RURAL SPEED LIMITS MUST BE REVIEWED

Local authorities will be required to review speed limits on all roads, particularly those in rural areas, by 2011, reports The Times (pg20).

The Department for Transport will announce the review this month, but will not prescribe what councils should do, according to a department spokesperson. Councils will need to look at the roads' engineering and safety record.

Motorists are 3.5 times more likely to die driving in the countryside than in towns. Ministers believe that the default 60mph limit on rural roads is too high in many cases, but also want the limit raised on some safe 30mph and 40mph roads.

The worst road is the A682 in Lancashire, between the M65 and the A65, where 23 crashes in three years have left people dead or seriously injured.

CALL TO OVERRIDE AUTHORITIES ON NUCLEAR WASTE SITES

The government should carefully decide where to bury nuclear waste rather than allow 'an unholy bidding war' between councils, writes Magnus Linklater in a column in The Times (pg17).

He writes that the government's proposals to invite 'host communities' to come forward in return for 'involvement packages', sounded like bribery and would result in 'an unwholesome scramble for benefits, with cash-strapped councils attempting to outbid each other to attract funding for their latest bypass or a brand-new housing estate, in exchange for allowing a nuclear waster facility to be built in their backyard'.

He calls instead for a new and detailed geological survey, which local authorities would not be allowed to refuse, in order to determine the best sites.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCHEMES SET TO GO UNDER DEFRA CUTS

Flood defence schemes, nature conservation and canal repair schemes are set to suffer under government cutbacks, reports The Guardian (pg3).

Defra has been told to cut its budget by nearly£200m over the next six months. The Environment Agency will be particularly hit hard, and is expected to cut£14.9m on flood defences and£9m on environmental protection. Natural England, which takes over from the Countryside Agency in October, also faces£12m of cuts.

TEACHERS 'NEED TRAINING ON VOICE CONTROL'

Teachers should receive training similar to that given to actors to project themselves better in the classroom, reports The Independent (pg13).

Research shows that more than half of all teachers suffer from voice problems, the annual conference of the Professional Association of Teachers was told. It also heard that children were put off by teachers who spoke in a boring, monotone voice.

NUISANCE RIDERS OF MOTORISED SCOOTERS FACE NEW PENALTIES

The law covering mini motorised bikes has been tightened to tackle riders who use them in an antisocial way, reports the Daily Mail (pg25).

Anybody caught riding one on the road, pavement or in a public park, will for the first time be subject to motoring penalties such as dangerous or careless driving and driving without insurance. Punishments could include points on their future driving licences.

Manchester has identified mini-motos as one of its top five antisocial behaviour priorities.

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