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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEWS IN THE NATIONAL PRESS

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LGA CALLS FOR 'NEW SETTLEMENT FOR ENGLAND'...
LGA CALLS FOR 'NEW SETTLEMENT FOR ENGLAND'

The Local Government Association today calls for power to be shifted from central government to local government and beyond to community, voluntary and neighbourhood organisations, in a letter published in The Times (pg20).

It warns that central control has 'wasted the public's money, sapped energy, enterprise and innovation of frontline staff, denied local choice and eroded local democracy'.

Councils need to rise to the challenge by being more ambitious for those they represent and push on with improvements and delivering value for money. 'Council leaders must also accept that the buck stops with them when things go wrong,' the letter adds.

An opinion piece written by Philip Johnston in The Daily Telegraph (pg16) backs the LGA's aims, saying that 'the biggest problem with local government in England is that it is so constrained in what it can do'.

LGA sets out vision for how power should be removed from Whitehall and put into the hands of local people, voluntary organisations and local councils

Closer to People and Places.

BAD NEIGHBOURS FORCE HALF A MILLION TO MOVE HOME

A survey has found that noise and bad behaviour in neighbours has forced about half a million people to move home in the last year, reports the Daily Mail (pg26).

People living in London, or renting council properties, suffer the most problems. But residents are more likely to call in police rather than council staff responsible for noise, even though local authorities now have extra powers to deal with disturbances. Full details here.

The Ipsos Mori poll of 1,962 people was commissioned by the environmental charity NSCA for Noise Action Week, which starts today.

ROW OVER RESULTS AT ACADEMY SCHOOLS

The number of pupils getting five good GSCE grades at city academy schools has risen by just 0.2 per cent, reports The Guardian (pg4).

The rise in GCSE A*-C attainment is equivalent to three pupils across the first 11 academies, according to a report prepared by an Edinburgh University academic. He also claims some academies are diverting children away from GCSEs towards the vocational GNVQ qualification, in order to boost their standing in league tables.

Opposition MPs and unions said the government had misled the public in claiming that academies bring a dramatic improvement in achievement.

The DfES hit back by saying it believed good results had risen by just over one per cent, and 'outstripped' those of their predecessor schools.

Building costs of the academies have also come under fire again, as it emerged that the company of top architect Lord Foster had been hired to design nine of the academies, reports the Daily Mail (pg28). But the company said it was 'insulting to kids to suggest they don't deserve nice, beautiful inspiring buildings'.

PLANNING DECISIONS ON SUPERMARKETS 'HURT COMMUNITIES'

Planning decisions that back huge supermarkets in favour of smaller markets could cut jobs and choice for residents, reports The Independent (pg14).

A report produced by the New Economics Foundation found that local street markets generate twice as many jobs as big supermarkets and sell goods at half the price.

Report author Guy Rubin said: 'The irony is that planning decisions are being taken which are undermining the small enterprises that can prevent us from becoming a nation of clone towns, as well as impoverishing local communities and economies and reducing consumer choice.'

The report follows the launch of a full competition inquiry into the grocery sector.

REFORMS ENCOURAGE DISADVANATGED STUDENTS TO SET THEIR UNIVERSITY SIGHTS HIGHER

Ministers are due to announce a radical reform of university selection procedures, reports The Times (pg1).

From 2008, a new upgrade week will allow those who do better than expected in their A-levels to seek places at universities they may not have considered previously. The changes aim to address concerns that talented state school pupils are missing out on places at the best universities because their teachers tend to predict lower grades. Around 9,000 students are expected to benefit each year.

SCHOOL 'WEIGH-INs' INTRODUCED TO TACKLE OBESITY

Children will be weighed just before they start and leave primary school and parents warned if they are too fat, reports the Daily Mail (pg1).

Ministers are worried that one in three 2-15-year-olds is now overweight or obese and believe parents have the greatest influence over their size.

But critics believe it is 'a dramatic extension of the nanny state'; will be costly and bureaucratic; and lead to bullying and stigmatisation of children.

School nurses will carry out the first checks of four and 10 year olds this summer.

COUNCIL TACKLES TOP GEAR PROGRAMME OVER NOISE

Waverly Council has served a noise abatement notice on the site of a track used by BBC motoring programme Top Gear, reports The Daily Telegraph (pg7).

The show is in breach of planning conditions and at risk of an enforcement order, according to a council spokesperson.

Its last permission to film at Dunsfold Park, an old war airfield in Surrey, ran out on April 30.

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