The Local Government Association says it is 'good to have the chancellor on board' over double devolution, in a letter published in The Guardian (pg31).
LGA chair Sandy Bruce Lockhart writes that Gordon Brown's backing, given in a speech at a public sector reform conference (see LGCnet), will 'enable councils to deliver higher quality services that are responsive to local circumstances and enable them to devolve power to local communities'.
HOUSE OF LORDS BACKS SIGN-TO-VOTE PLANS
Everyone will have to sign their name and date of birth to get a vote under an amendment backed in the House of Lords yesterday, reports The Times (pg24).
Conservative local government spokesperson Baroness Hanham tabled the amendment to the Electoral Administration Bill. She expressed concerned about local election votes made in Coventry in the name of people who were out of the country at the time.
The amendment was accepted by 167 to 144 and now faces the Commons.
Labour opposes the plan, arguing that local authorities in areas affected by vote-rigging should introduce tougher measures, rather than tightening the rules for everyone.
Liberal Democrat chief executive, Lord Rennard, said:
'Liberal Democrats supported a significant tightening up of procedures to prevent, detect and deter electoral fraud. There has been much concern recently about the potential abuse of the postal voting system in particular. We backed an amendment which stipulated that all voters should provide their signature and date of birth when they apply to go on the voting register. The independent Electoral Commission also strongly backed this proposal.'
WORLD CUP SEEN AS BIG TEST FOR NEW LICENSING LAWS
The LGA today warns pubs that councils will be closely monitoring how it manages customers during World Cup games, reports The Daily Telegraph (pg3).
Guidance issued by the association urges residents disturbed by pub patrons to keep a diary of rowdy behaviour, contact the environmental health department and local councillor and contact police over serious incidents.
Bryony Rudkin, chair of the LGA's safer communities board, said pubs should be warned that councils and police would have no qualms about using new licensing powers that allow the closure of establishments that encourage binge drinking which leads to violence. Councils would be paying particularly close attention to irresponsible drinks promotions, she added.
LGA press release.
PRESCOTT 'FORCING KELLY TO TREK ACROSS WHITEHALL'
Ruth Kelly has to make a daily trek across Whitehall to keep in touch with her officials because John Prescott is holding on to his old office, reports The Daily Telegraph (pg8).
It quotes Conservative MPs who claim Mr Prescott has retained his office in the Old Admiralty building. The rest of the building is occupied by staff from the Department for Communities and Local Government. Ms Kelly has been forced to decamp to Eland House, a mile away.
LIB DEM LEADER PLEDGES TO EMPOWER LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell is pledging to empower local government, in an article published in The Independent (pg29).
The article comes ahead of a speech today in which he is expected to launch radical changes to the party's policies and propose new taxes.
Sir Menzies writes: 'We need to bring an end of the monolithic centralised state that allows the chancellor to dictate education and health policy to local communities. We need to empower local government and place greater influence in the hands of the electorate.'
He adds that party should investigate the possibility of targeting education funding by pupil to incentives schools to accept and improve the education of the poorest in society.
You can read Sir Menzies' full speech here.
CITY TO IMPOSE BLANKET 20MPH LIMIT
Plymouth will become the first city in Britain to impose a 20mph limit on all resident roads, reports The Daily Telegraph (pg12).
The limit will come into force by the end of 2008. It aims to reduce road injuries and noise pollution and improve air quality.
SMOKING BAN HITS BINGO HALLS THE HARDEST
Bingo operators are the big losers from Scotland's smoking ban, reports the Financial Times (pg4).
Carlton Bingo, the UK's biggest operator said the ban had struck the sector like a brick wall, as an estimated 70 per cent of customers smoked. This meant players arrived late, departed earlier and took any opportunity to leave the building to pursue their nicotine fix outside.
Meanwhile pubs are complaining that planning authorities in Scotland are being inconsistent in decisions over outdoor seats and shelters for smokers.