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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEWS IN THE NATIONAL PAPERS

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LGA ACCUSED OF BEING OUT OF TOUCH WITH COUNCILLORS...
LGA ACCUSED OF BEING OUT OF TOUCH WITH COUNCILLORS

The new chief executive of the Local Government Association has ordered a review of the association amid accusations that it is out of touch with grassroots members, reports The Times (pg16).

Paul Coen has instigated the review, which will report in January.

There have been complaints that the LGA represents only chief executives and council leaders rather than all councillors. The Labour and Liberal Democrat groups were also angry that a letter written about immigration by Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, the Conservative chair of the association, had not been approved by the other parties before it was sent to home secretary John Reid and leaked to the press.

LGA LAUNCH INDEPENDENT COMMISSION

BLAIR FACES FURTHER PRESSURE FROM MPs AND UNIONS

Prime minister Tony Blair will continue to face opponents who say it is untenable for him to lead Labour into next May's local, Scottish and Welsh elections, reports The Guardian (pg1).

This is despite the PM yesterday confirming he will resign within 12 months, but not spelling out an exact date.

Mr Blair will also face pressure when he attends the TUC annual conference next week, where union members will call for public sector reforms - including greater private sector involvement in health and education - to be put on hold, reports the Financial Times (pg2).

BLACK TEACHERS 'FACE WIDESPREAD DISCRIMINATION'

A report due out tomorrow will warn that black teachers feel isolated and discriminated against, reports The Guardian (pg15).

Commissioned by London mayor Ken Livingstone, the report shows that only four per cent of qualified black teachers become headteachers or deputy heads. Mr Livingstone said that 'it cannot be right' that up to half of pupils were black in some boroughs but only 16-18 per cent of their teachers were of a similar heritage.

RETAILERS CALL FOR COUNCILS TO ACCEPT MONTHLY RENTS

The British Retail Consortium will today ask 471 councils to accept rents monthly instead of quarterly, reports the Financial Times (pg4).

Local authorities own about£112bn of commercial property, much of it in shopping centres. The BRC wants councils to stop the 'antiquated' practice of charging rents three months ahead.

The BRC has also written to Ken Livingstone and the Greater London Authority, because London Underground is also landlord to more than 1,000 shops.

FINAL DECISION DUE ON BLACKPOOL CASINO

The Casino Advisory panel will today consider whether a supercasino in Blackpool would make or break the town, reports The Guardian (pg13).

Today's hearing is the last of public sessions held over the past seven days.

A Lib Dem councillor, along with the owners of the main complex of amusement arcades, oppose a supercasino, but the city council's head of corporate development says the town needs 'shock and awe' to entice visitors in.

JAMIE OLIVER WANTS TEACHERS TO CONFISCATE POOR PACKED LUNCHES

Television chef Jamie Oliver is calling for teachers to have powers to confiscate lunchboxes packed with unhealthy food, reports The Independent (pg10).

He said 70 per cent of packed lunches were 'disgraceful' and it was time to start clamping down on parents who gave their children crisps, fizzy drinks and other junk food.

A new series featuring the chef returning to school dinners starts on 18 September.

JOHNSON GOES BACK TO BASICS FOR MATHS

Primary school maths lessons will focus more on mental arithmetic under plans due to come in from October, reports The Guardian (pg8).

Pupils will have to master their times tables by age eight, a year earlier than currently, and calculators will only be allowed for more complicated calculations.

Education secretary Alan Johnson also said pupils will be taught to read using the phonics system.

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