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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEWS IN THE NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS

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JUDGE OVERTURNS FINE FOR HOLIDAY IN TERM TIME...
JUDGE OVERTURNS FINE FOR HOLIDAY IN TERM TIME

Peterborough City Council has expressed its disappointment with the overturn by magistrates of penalties it issued on parents who took their children for an 18-day trip in term time. Ian Donaldson and his wife Donna were given an unconditional discharge with no fine or costs, reports The Daily Telegraph (pg5).

They were originally fined£100 for taking their two sons, aged 7 and 5, out of school to see family in South Africa, after being refused permission by the children's head teacher. The penalty doubled when it was not paid within 42 days.

The parents argued they had paid for extra tuition for their sons, and that the experience had let their boys see wild animals and a way of life in a different country.

A spokesperson for Peterborough City Council said the council had acted in accordance with instructions issued by the Department for Education and Skills. A council statement read: 'The city council is disappointed with the decision reached in this case and the matter will be reviewed. The parents were told by the head teacher prior to their holiday that their request, made in October 2005, to remove the children for 18 school days during a total holiday period extending from 14 December to 20 January inclusive would not be authorised because it exceeded the school's limit of 10 days' absence in any year. Despite this advice the parents chose to proceed with their holiday. The city council issued a£50 penalty notice in respect of each child at the request of the school on 3 February. When unpaid within 28 days the penalty automatically doubled to£100 and their failure to pay within 42 days automatically triggered court action. Education welfare officers have provided information, both in telephone calls and by post, about this process in response to requests from the parents for information. However, once legal proceedings were commenced it was appropriate that further communication was handled through the city council's legal officer.'

COUNCIL WARNS CABBIES NOT TO FLY ST GEORGE FLAGS

Cheltenham BC has raised the ire of taxi drivers after banning them from flying the England flag during the World Cup for 'public safety issues', reports the Daily Express (pg7).

Cab firms say the ban is 'ridiculous', and plan to defy it, despite risking fines or revoked licences.

Nigel Denby, licensing services manager at the council, said: 'We have policies in place and people must ask for permission if they want to put something out of the ordinary on show.' He added the flags could obstruct drivers' views of the road. More comment from Cheltenham BC.

The newspaper says the ban comes days after Blackpool BC outlawed taxi drivers from wearing England shirts in case they offend foreign visitors. A Blackpool Council spokesperson said: 'Taxi drivers are often the first point of contact with visitors and at a time when Blackpool is investing millions driving up standards it is important that we all ensure we offer our visitors a high quality service. That is why - after consultation with the drivers themselves - this particular dress code came into place last September to ensure that the town's greatest ambassadors are smart. Banning the wearing of all football shirts was at the request of the majority of taxi firms indeed some had already banned the wearing of any football shirt by their own drivers. It was never our intention to stop support for the England team during the World Cup and indeed many of the town's taxis are already flying the flag. For the duration of the World Cup taxi drivers will be able to wear England football shirts providing they are clean and tasteful.'

NOTTINGHAM DEEMED MOST DANGEROUS CITY

Nottingham is the most dangerous city in England and Wales, according to a league table of crime in urban areas, reports The Daily Telegraph (pg1).

The information was compiled by thinktank Reform, which obtained detailed crime rates per head of population through the Freedom of Information Act.

Nottingham was followed by Leeds, Stockport, Bradford and Manchester. Southend in Essex was deemed the safest.

Rankings were based on serious crimes, including murder, rape, assault, burglary, gun crime and vehicle crime.

NOTTINGHAM LEADER SAYS CRIME REPORT FIGURES ARE WRONG

HUGE REVOLT TIPPED FOR EDUCATION BILL VOTE

Labour whips have accepted that at least 60 Labour MPs will vote against the education bill tomorrow, reports The Daily Telegraph (pg10).

New education secretary Alan Johnson failed to convert hardline rebels at a meeting yesterday. Opponents of the bill object to restrictions on the ability of local authorities to build new schools.

Labour will rely on Tory votes to get the bill through.

SOCIAL CARE SPECIALIST PROFITS FROM PUBLIC SECTOR CONTRACTS

Social care provider Care UK has yet to see any trend that it may be hurt by local authority funding cutbacks, reports the Financial Times (p18). The company yesterday reported a seven per cent rise in pre-tax profits.

COUNTRYSIDE TO BE 'TRAINED' TO WELCOME ETHNIC MINORITIES

'Country entrepreneurs' are to be trained to give people who are black, Asian, disabled or young, a warmer welcome, reports The Times (pg27).

Countryside Agency research suggests these groups fear exclusion from close-knit communities. A£25m campaign is underway to persuade them to visit rural areas. Further details here.

GOVERNMENT FAILS TO INCREASE BUS USE

A group of MPs has concluded that the government is behind in its efforts to boost the number of people travelling by bus, reports The Daily Telegraph (pg2).

The finding comes in a report prepared by parliament's public accounts committee. Further details here.

BANANA SKIN SLIP COULD COST RESIDENT DEAR

A motorist is being taken to court by Braintree DC over a banana skin he dropped in the road, reports The Daily Telegraph (pg2).

Andrew Shepherd is refusing to pay the£50 fine because he believes the council is being 'ridiculous', he told magistrates in a letter. He said he removed the banana after youths threw it on his windscreen.

The council is also seeking nearly£400 in costs.

The case has been adjourned to allow Mr Shepherd to attend.

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